This is part of an ongoing republication of Vilas Deane’s Vi the Bible Guy series from the original Southview website. Three questions and three answers will get put up each Wednesday morning, so be sure to check back!
Q22: What is a generation in Matt 24:32-35?
Let us first quote Matt 24:32-35 – “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
This is a part of the Olivet Discourse that Jesus taught to his followers.It occurs also in Mk 13:28-31 and Lk 21:29-33. He was speaking about end-times events. A generation varies from about 30-100 years. I think that the best interpretation of this passage is that Jesus was saying that “this generation” would be the generation that would witness the occurrence of the end-times events about which he had been speaking. That generation would see all of those things happen that Jesus had been talking about in this time of teaching. (A different interpretation holds that the word “generation” means “nation or race” in this context.If that is the case, Jesus may be saying that Israel – the nation or race – will continue to exist until all these things are fulfilled.)
Q23: Did the soldier who nailed the sign on the cross at Christ’s crucifixion become a Christian?
It is probably true that one of the soldiers did nail the sign to the cross. What else did the soldiers do? John 19:23-24 says that they divided most of Jesus’ clothing among four soldiers, but then they cast lots (perhaps threw the dice ?) to see which one would get the one-piece tunic. Luke 23:36 tells us that the soldiers joined with others in mocking Jesus. This was a pretty routine event for these soldiers who were probably responsible for putting others to death by this method in previous days. Their attention seemed to be on what material things they could get for themselves rather than on the One on the center cross. What a contrast exists between the 4 soldiers and the several women at the foot of the cross. These women were followers of Jesus – perhaps one of them had made with great care and love the one-piece tunic over which the soldiers gambled. Then when Jesus died things started to happen. Matt 27:51-54 says, ‘At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”’ It would appear that the soldiers at this point do recognize who Jesus was, but the Devil also knows who Jesus is. Were the soldiers saved? Did they become Christians? The Bible does not tell us. So we do not know.
Q24: If a Christian commits suicide, will that person go to heaven?
The short answer is: Yes. If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but quicken his journey to Hell. However, that person will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide. Now for the Christian. The Bible teaches that from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16). The Bible teaches that the Christian can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal lift (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate the Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). If nothing can separate us from God’s love, then not even suicide can separate us from God’s love. Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, that would still be a sin covered by the blood of Christ. Suicide is a serious sin. We are forbidden to murder, and suicide is murder, thus a sin, and a sin that Jesus paid for on the cross.
Why would one commit suicide? It might come from feelings of hopeless, rejection, abandonment, self-pity, anger, bitterness, feeling like you are in the deepest pit and there is no way out. Remember Lk 1:37 – “For nothing is impossible with God.” Jesus is sympathetic with your troubles. Isa. 53:3 tells us that “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Psa 50:15 tells us when we are in difficult situations to “call upon me [God] in the day of trouble; I will deliver you”. Nothing that you have ever done is too bad for Jesus to forgive. Some of His choicest servants committed gross sins like murder (Moses, David, Paul). Yet they found forgiveness and a new abundant life in the Lord. So when the temptation comes to commit suicide, look to the Lord instead.