Initially, a non-believer does not accept the idea that there is a Hell. If they do, they usually think that only "very bad people" are sent to Hell. They also usually think that "good" people are going to Heaven. They try to find comfort in believing that the close relative they lost to death is now in Heaven because he was a nice person. Unfortunately, the truth is that anyone who does not place their faith in Jesus Christ is going to Hell, no matter how "good" he was. So, how do we comfort and share the Gospel to an unbeliever who just lost a nonbeliever friend? How do we talk about the fact that his friend is in Hell, without pushing him away from God? Ex: - How do we tell a mother who just lost her only son in a car accident that he is now burning in Hell for all eternity? - What do we say to a daughter who just lost her mother due to cancer?
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It is true that only Jesus can give us entry into Heaven through His sacrifice on our behalf. I have faced this dilemma before, and I have told the person who has lost a loved one that only God knows what was in that loved one's heart. We know that Jesus appears in visions and dreams to people all over the globe. It could be that Jesus appeared to him/her just before death. We just don't know. Our prayers for unsaved loved ones are very important, too. The Holy Spirit does respond to us when we lift up these people to Him. Never underestimate God's working in a person's life! I should add, too, that if this is an unbeliever asking the question, it's prime time to share the good news of salvation with him/her!
When I was 18 years old, my unsaved parents were killed in a place crash. Although I wasn't a very strong Christian at that point in my life, I had committed my life to Jesus and was fumbling along the best I could as I endeavored to grow in Christ with no support from my family. Facing the reality that my parents might be in hell was the absolute hardest part about losing them. For a long time I beat myself over the head for not being the best example I could while they were alive. Guilt smothered me every day, as well as the pain of their death. God was faithful to speak to me and He comforted me in the days, weeks and years that followed. The first thing I heard from God was this: "My ways are higher than your ways; my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) God knows best, no matter what, no matter how it hurts, no matter what is happening in our lives. We can trust Him in ALL situations that He is working all things together for good for His people (Rom. 8:28). As to the guilt I felt about not seeing them saved while they were on earth, God kept telling me that it really wouldn't have mattered if they had lived any longer than they did. Our merciful and loving God would NOT cut short the lifespan of His unsaved children for no reason, especially when those children needed more chances to surrender their lives to Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:4) Last, I kept believing that in their dying breaths, my parents had called out to God for mercy. A few years ago a dear friend told me that when plane crash incidents are being reviewed by the FAA, without exception, the pilot and the people on the plane can be heard on the black box shouting, "God save us! We need your help!" and other such things. Romans 10:13 says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." I have comforted myself with these things: Knowing that God knows best, knowing that if my parents were meant to be saved, God would have accomplished that while they were living, and that since it's the job of Holy Spirit to convict sinners of their need of God, I was absolved of my guilt for not being successful in seeing my parents meet Jesus with certainty. John 6: 44 says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." Every day I take comfort in the hope that with their dying breaths, my parents called out to Jesus for mercy and salvation, and for their lives. Who knows? Maybe THAT is the only way they would have come to know Jesus: DESPERATION! Desperation and their lives literally flashing before their eyes. "For nothing shall be impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)
As an old Christian friend of mine used to say years ago..."take advantage of any opportunity put before you to be the best witness of the Love and Holiness of Jesus Christ and that divine everlasting Love that God has for those that deep down in their hearts yearn for God's peace, comfort and holiness; for, in so doing, that person "will see Jesus in you and will be receptive to God's blessed Holiness and Grace that surpasses all understanding." One of my sayings: "A friend in need, is a friend indeed that has dire need of the goodness and the blessings of God." My saying that I like to close with: "Praise God that He provided a Savior! And, His name is Jesus Christ"! ~~Andy~~
My Father used to preach a lot of funerals for people he did not know. He always said we can not know whether a person has believed or not, because once a person believes even if they never believe it again are saved. Second Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, He abideth faithful, He can not deny himself. Once a person just believes John 3:16 they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise unto the day of redemption. Ephesians 1:13-14. John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me HATH EVERLASTING LIFE. There is always hope that at one time in their life they did believe and will be in heaven. John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent me, that ALL that seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. God sees our faith the second we believe and gives us eternal life by faith alone. Romans 4:5-8.
You can comfort them by saying "I feel sorry for your loss." Show kindness by listening to them and taking cues from them about what to say. Always remember wherever you go, your deeds go ahead of you.
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