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Euthanasia or Man's Choice to Remove Life

©2001 Rev. Paul R. Schmidtbleicher, Th.M.

An increasingly popular concept which is growing with man's rebellion towards God is the idea that men should have legal and moral control over the time of their death. The arguement is again in outright rejection of God's claim in Deuteronomy 32:39 to have sole authority over life, ultimate sustaining of life, and death.

In our study of this area, it is necessary to take up some of the harsh realities of Scripture and honestly face them with God's Viewpoints rather than the mush that is being peddled to us in our day. For some, this is not going to be easy. We do not like to see nor hear of suffering. In the minds of many, the idea exists that we "get it over with quickly" so that there is no possibility of suffering.

How many times do we wince at the thought that somebody suffered long and hard before they died and conclude that it would have been BETTER to have died quickly and not suffer at all. This is human thought and nature. This has contributed to the rebellion of men seeking to take life into their own hands and out of the hands of God. What does the Lord say? It is first necessary to define the problem.

1. Euthanasia focuses upon ending the lives of those who are in terminal pain and of those whose "quality of life" has been deemed substandard.

Some of the effects of sin are illnesses and infirmities which are accompanied by great pain. Sometimes it is not pain, but a loss of abilities once possessed that leads to taking life into our own hands.

Diseases, like cancer, may bring a great deal of pain. Loss of mental abilities, motor functions, and memory, change life as it is lived and tempt some to call for the termination of life under the banner of a (so-called) substandard "quality of life."

Human solutions to these situations are more and more moving towards the option of taking life's last days out of the hands of God and placing it into the hands of men to terminate the lives of such persons. It is into the midst of this issue that the believer must inject biblical understanding and standards if he is to understand and reflect God's thinking in this all important area.

2. God's ultimate purposes in old age is to reflect the full effects of sin while the pain of certain diseases and infirmities are to encourage the sufficiency of God's Grace or to motivate repentance. Gen 2:17; 1 Cor 15:22; Hag 2:17; Heb 12:11; Ezk 33:11

There are two issues here and two sets of persons involved. The subjects are disease and aging. The persons involved are either believers or unbelievers. (a) With the issue of aging and the believer, the contrast of the changed and beautiful soul transformed by the power of God is seen over against an aging body in bondage to sin. It is the ultimate picture of the power of God over the effects of sin. (b) The unbeliever's aging sees the effects of sin in both body and soul. (c) In facing diseases, even painful diseases, the believer has claim upon the sufficiency of God's gracious provisions which turn suffering into blessing. (d) The unbeliever has motivation to realize that their current pain is minimal compared to the promises that are part of the second death.

2.1 Aging and the degeneration of aging into death is a direct result of sin. Gen 2:17; 1 Cor 15:22

On the one hand, God is life. On the other hand man, through his sin and disobedience, brought sin and death into the world. It is therefore necessary that men age and die.

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. [DYING, YOU SHALL DIE]

1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Sin is the ultimate cause of physical death, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for all of us has brought final victory over death and the grave by way of resurrection and eternal life.

APPLICATION: In the overall plan of God, the process of aging as well as the effects of physical aging are a constant visible reminder of sin and its effects upon the human race. Man can see the rewards of sin (wages) on a regular basis in coming face to face with aging and death. It is the visible message of God to the inherent power of sin to bring bongage, pain, and death. For man to "sweep" this visible message "under the carpet" by encouraging the termination of those suffering the final effects of sin is nothing less than censoring the gospel of Jesus Christ as it relates to sin.

2.2 Disease, infirmity and pain are also associated with sin and used by the Lord with the unrighteous to bring about repentance. Hag 2:17; Heb 12:11

Hag 2:17 [In regards to an agricultural plague] I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.

God's purpose in allowing for pain, suffering, and judgement among those in rebellion towards him is to "pressurize" their circumstances of life into consideration of the gospel and a turning to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Heb 12:11 [On discipline/judgement in general] Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

In a similiar way, the general principle of any of God's allowance of or promotion of pain in suffering and judgement is the possible yielding of righteousness. This is what is normally expected as the result. Sometimes men respond and many times they do not. Even when the Lord provides such things at the end of life, they are far less than we actually deserve according to Psalm 103:10.

Ps 103:10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

The toll of aging upon mankind is the direct visual and physical results of sin. God ultimately does not desire this physical degeneration and has provided for victory over it in the Cross of Christ. Nevertheless, God uses what is far less than we really deserve to get us to consider His claims and bring about possible repentance.

2.3 The prospect of death and all that leads to it is used by the Lord to motivate repentance (a change of mind towards Christ). Ezk 33:11

Ezk 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die [eternally], O house of Israel? (KJV)

The reproofs supplied by the effects of sin are for a purpose. God does not take pleasure in death stealing away any member of the human race, for as Peter says "... He is not willing that any should perish..." (2 Pet 3:9).

2.4 The pain, suffering, disease, and infirmity which preceeds death is to motivate repentance, but may bring further hardness and rejection to confirm judgement. Prov 14:32; 29:1

It is a sad fact, but it has to be faced. As the Pharoah of Egypt was faced with the judgements of God, He hardened his heart and God further hardened his heart. This rejection confirmed his judgement. The biblical history may seem remote to us, but many times the same principles of the Plan of God are at work in the sufferings and continued rejections of our loved ones. God is at work up to the point of the tomb as much as He is at work in the womb.

Pr 14:32 The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death. (KJV)

Death is actually the basis of hope for the believer while in the rebellious heart of many of the unrighteous, death and the details leading up to it, provides in their unrighteousness a further driving away. The solution is to respond to the Lord, be saved, and gain victory over death.

Pr 29:1 He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (KJV)

There is NO REMEDY to hell, the second death, and the lake of fire after the opportunities afforded in this life are expired. The effects of old age and death are from sin and not from God. Yet God uses them to motivate repentance. He is at work in disease, in pain, in suffering, and up to the point of death. To administer death, to encourage euthanasia, to offer suicide is once again usurping the perogatives of God and possibly interfering with the final stages of God's Plan to bring about repentance.

2.5 The effects of disease, pain, and infirmity in the life of the believer are to encourage the experience of the sufficiency of God's Grace. Book of Job; Job 42:1-5; 2 Cor 12:9; 1 Pet 4:19

The believer also faces the effects of sin upon the body which is still corruptible. However, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, God's gracious support is available at each and every point. The provision of the Lord is sufficient to gain victory in the soul and the mind over the physical effects of sin in the life. (Victory in the physical area was accomplished by the cross and is administered by resurrection) For the believer, God sometimes allows the physical effects of sin to show the greater sufficiency of His grace to meet these effects with the soul that is saved and walking with the Lord.

Job, and the entire book of Job, is an example of God allowing the great sinning creature, Satan, to touch Job and bring about physical pain. However, Job, in his soul, truimphed over the physical pain and what seemed to be imminent death (from Job's standpoint). In Job 42:1-5, Job would declare the wonders of God and repent over his doubting of the plan and purposes of God allowing Job's infirmities.

The apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh that he asked God to remove. It was God's will for him to keep this infirmity and utilize the gracious provisions of God.

2 Cor 12:9 And he [The Lord] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (KJV)

Every believer is in the Plan of God. God controls the time of the death of the believer. We are to seek out and use the provisions of God, trust in Him, and allow His Plan to be fulfilled in our lives.

1 Pet 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (KJV)

None of us knows what great things in the Plan of God will be accomplished by our sometimes suffering the physical effects of sin in the body. God knows! He has planned for our departure as well as for our lives. We are to leave life in His hands. Euthanasia is one choice - a wrong choice - to take back this area of the Plan of God.

Example: The Death of Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson [Life and Campaigns of T.J. Jackson, by R.L. Dabney; Sprinkle Publications, 1977] Pages 706, 707, 708, 721-724

Stonewall Jackson was wounded accidently by three shots in battle by his own confederate troops. The first ball entered his right hand. A second ball wounded his left forearm and a third broke the left arm at the shoulder and severed the artery. Because of the battle, He would lose time and blood on the battle field. As a result, his left arm would be amputated. There would be an infection from which Jackson would eventually die. The events surrounding his death showed a large measure of the sufficient grace of God that provided great blessing and witness in his death as well as in his life.

The account of Stonewall Jackson's death is well worth reading to see the grace of God in his life even at this time.

3. God's use of disease, pain, and suffering is His final opportunity to motivate faith in Christ and is far better than entering eternity under condemnation and the second death. Matt 25:30, 41; Mark 9:43-44; 2 Thess 1:7-9; Rev 19:20.

Many times the biblical issues of the judgement and condemnation of God are not brought to bear on the issue of ending the suffering and misery of people by some form of euthanasia. As already seen, God uses pain and suffering to pressure the unbeliever into a change of mind about Christ, into a decision, or into the confirmation of their rejection beyond a doubt.

The comparison of the pain and suffering of anything that can attack the body pales in comparison to what the Bible teaches lies ahead for the person who would reject Jesus Christ and refuse the only means of salvation. ("...no man comes unto the Father, but by me." - Jn 14:6; "There is no other name given under heaven..." - Acts 4:12) The fate of the unbeliever in eternity is far worse than the maximum pain of this world. In reality, one moment after administering death, the unbeliever will be in for an eternity of even greater pain, misery, and agony as they have rejected the Lord and His only provision. He offers salvation. Men reject it.

The increased suffering and misery in the next life for the unrighteous is presented in Matthew 25:30, 41:

Matt 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (KJV)

Matt 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: (KJV)

The extent of the fires of hell and the eternality of it is portrayed in Scripture in Mark 9:43-44:

Mark 9:43-44 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (KJV)

The lake of fire is the final judgement for those who reject Jesus Christ. It is shared by the Satan indwelt beast and his false prophet as well as by those who worship his image:

2 Thes 1:7-9 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (KJV)

Rev 19:20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (KJV)

In view of these truths from the Scriptures, a few more days and months exposure to earthly pain along with the possibility of the gospel leading to a change of mind (repentance) and salvation is to be preferred.

Solomon, in his wisdom, even while not walking directly with the Lord, sums up the wisdom of choosing for LIFE as an unbeliever - even during the last stages of that life when the full effects of sin are making themselves known upon the body. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 9:4:

Eccles 9:4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

In Mid-East and biblical culture, the dog was considered to be a low life creature while the lion was pictured as the king of beasts. A living dog is better than a dead lion because in life there is hope!

Therefore, the idea of euthanasia is biblically wrong for the suffering unbeliever. It seeks to remove control of life from the hands of God and deceives the unbeliever into the false idea that they will have "a good death." In reality, euthanasia sends the unbeliever into an eternity of hell without the benefit of the final gospel presentation of impending judgement, highlighted in temporal pain, before it is faced.

4. God uses the death of the believer to highlight the sufficiency of His Grace and the believer's confidence in the gospel message of eternal life. Euthanasia removes control of life from God and cheats the believer out of the final temporal experience of God's grace. Heb 2:14-15; Rom 14:8; Phil 1:21.

The final ploy of Satan in the life of the believer is to instill a fear of death. Satan will try to place the believer into final bondage by discouraging faith in the Lord and His Word concerning death and life everlasting. In place of faith, Satan will substitute fear. Hebrews 2:14-15 speaks of this issue and how the death of Christ and its ramifications has released us from bondage to death and to the fear of death.

Heb 2:14-15 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

The final victory of the believer in facing Satan is to be in our death. While Satan seeks to instill fear the victory of our faith will be to experience the sufficiency of God's grace and the confidence of His promises of life eternal. As we are absent from the body, we will come face to face with the Lord. The Scriptures relate for us the confidence which our faith can bring in the face of death. The Apostle Paul has spoken about this in Philippians 1:21.

Phil 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

In the Plan of God, our death is just as important as our lives. It is a time which the angels, who are watching, should not be cheated out of as well as others by prematurely ending it under the evil of euthanasia. The Apostle Paul again speaks of the importantance of our dying as part of the Plan of God in Romans 14:8:

Rom 14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

Another example of the beauty and the death of the believer is that of Dwight L. Moody. [Life of D.L. Moody; by A.P. Fitt; Moody Press Colportage Library; Pgs 121-125]

To The world December 22, 1899 was the shortest day of all the year, but for D. L. Moody its dawn ushered in that day that knows no night. For forty-four years he had been a partaker of the divine life, and the transition from the seen to the unseen, from the sphere of the temporal to the eternal, was no interruption in his life. In other realms he continues to serve the same Master whose cause he loved with devotion and served with tireless energy. His one aim in his earthly life had been to do the will of God, and with characteristic readiness he responded to God's last summons.

Until within a few hours of the end, Mr. Moody shared with the family the conviction that he was improving. The day before he had seemed rather more nervous than usual, but spoke cheerfully about himself. In reply to an inquiry if he was comfortable, he said:

"Oh, yes!. God is very good to me - and so is my family."

No man loved his family and life work more devotedly, and frequently he had been heard to say:

"Life is very sweet to me, and there is no position of power or wealth that could tempt me from the throne God has given me."

It was not that he was tired of life and wanted to be done with service that made him so ready to leave, for he knew such joy of Christian service as few have experienced.

The final summons came unexpectedly. During the first half of the night, A. P. Fitt, his son-in-law, had been on duty at his bedside. He slept the greater part of the time. At three in the morning his son, W. R. Moody, took the place as watcher in the sick chamber. For several hours the patient was restless and unable to sleep, but about 6 A.M. he quieted down, and soon fell into a natural sleep.

He awoke in about an hour. His son suddenly heard him speaking in slow and measured words, and he was saying:

"Earth recedes; Heaven opens before me."

His son's first impulse was to try to arouse him from what he thought was a dream.

"No, this is no dream, Will," he said. "It is beautiful! It is like a trance! If this is death, it is sweet! There is no valley here! God is calling me, and I must go! "

Meanwhile the nurse was summoning the family and the physician, who had spent the night in the house. Mr. Moody continued to talk quietly on, and seemed to speak from another world his last messages to the loved ones he was leaving.

"I have always been an ambitious man," he said; "ambitious not to leave wealth or possessions, but to leave lots of work for you to do. You will carry on Mount Hermon; Paul will take up the Seminary, when he is older; Fitt will look after the Institute; and Ambert [his nephew] will help you all in the business details."

Then it seemed as though he saw beyond the veil, for be exclaimed :

"This is my triumph; this is my coronation day! I have been looking forward to it for years."

Then his face lit up, and he said, in a voice of joyful rapture, "Dwight! Irene! I see the children's faces!" referring to his two little grandchildren, whom God had taken home within the past year.

Then, as he thought he was losing consciousness, he said:

"Give my love to them all."

Turning to his wife, he added:

"Mamma, you have been a good wife to me!"

The doctor turned away, seeing that the patient's life could not be saved. In a few moments more another sinking turn came on, and from it Mr. Moody awoke in the presence of Him whom he loved and served so long and faithfully. It was not like death, for he fell on sleep quietly and peacefully, and it was not hard to imagine his reception in that other world among the host of loved ones awaiting his coming. The whole occurrence was such, in the mercy of God, that the substance as well as the sting of death was removed.

A friend wired from a distant city: "Mr. Moody's love for music is at last satisfied this Christmas morning."

As the Psalmist records for us in Psalm 116:15:

Ps 116:15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

The death of the believer is meant to be left in the hands of the Lord so that we can be glorified on our coronation as well. Euthanasia robs the believer of this blessing. In rebellion, control of life is removed from the hands of the Lord and put into the hands of man who really knows NOT what he is doing in this area!

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