End of Life Issues

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End of Life Issues 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 13, In the year of our Lord, 2014


  1. A man is on life-support for years, and 
    1. decides that he does not want to live that way anymore.
    2. Therefore, he asks for someone to “unplug” him.
  2. Is that a form of suicide? 
    1. What is the difference between “unplugging” and euthanasia?
      1. Euthanasia gives someone a so-called “good” death without their consent.
      2. In this case, the person gave the consent.
        1. Also, the person did not ask someone to take his life, but
        2. only to remove the means to continue to live.
    2. What do you think about euthanasia?
    3. What is the difference between “unplugging” and physician-assisted suicide?
      1. In the case under question, the action is passive, simply withholding.
      2. In physician-assisted suicide, a doctor administers a drug.
    4. What do you think about physician-assisted suicide?
      1. It is not our place to play God.
      2. We have allowed this in Oregon, because
        1. we believe that suffering is unnecessary.
        2. Yet, what does the Bible teach on suffering?
          1. Is suffering always a bad thing?
          2. Can anything good come from suffering?


  1. How do we make end-of-life decisions? 
    1. Does the Bible show us the way?
    2. Does the Spirit through the Scriptures and through our daily experiences,
      1. provide any guidance?
      2. If so, do you know how to discover that guidance?
    3. Consider Second Timothy 3,

      16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2Ti 3.16–17).

      1. What does this passage mean?
      2. What does it mean that God inspired Scripture?
      3. The Scripture profits us in
        1. doctrine,
        2. reproof,
        3. correction,
        4. instruction in righteousness,
        5. making us complete,
        6. equipping us thoroughly for every good work.
    4. What is the place of prayer?
      1. We pray, but how do we know what the answer is?
      2. Pray and then follow the open doors.
  2. What do you think the Bible says about this issue? 
    1. Can we end our own lives?
    2. Do you know of biblical people who wanted to die?
      1. Job 3 shows Job’s desire.
      2. Elijah had no desire to continue (1Ki 19.4).
      3. Jonah 4 shows that the prophet wanted to die.
    3. Consider the case of King Saul, who either took his own life or tried.
      1. First Samuel 31.3–6 shows what happened.
      2. However, notice Second Samuel 1.1–16.
        1. Did Saul take his own life?
        2. It is hard to tell.
          1. However, we want to note the reaction of David.
          2. Does this parallel, “pulling the plug,”
            1. if not,
            2. what can we learn from it?
    4. What about life support?
      1. How far do we go with life support?
      2. Is “pulling the plug” the same as suicide?
    5. What forms your thinking?
      1. Is it the Bible?
      2. Is it the world?
      3. Is it your feelings?
    6. The Bible tells us to ask God for wisdom.
      1. First Kings 3.9

        9 “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1Ki 3.9).
      2. Psalm 32.8–10

        8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
        I will guide you with My eye.
        9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
        Which have no understanding,
        Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
        Else they will not come near you.
        10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
        But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
        (Psa 32.8–10)
      3. Psalm 73.24

        24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
        And afterward receive me to glory.
        (Psa 73.24)
      4. Proverbs 2.6–10

        6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
        From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
        7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
        He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
        8 He guards the paths of justice,
        And preserves the way of His saints.
        9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
        Equity and every good path.
        10 When wisdom enters your heart,
        And knowledge is pleasant to your soul…
        (Pro 2.6–10)
      5. James 1.5–8

        5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (Jam 1.5–8)
      6. Proverbs 28.26 – Beware of following your heart,

        26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
        But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.
        (Pro 28.26)
  3. Some who took or allowed their lives to be taken for a purpose 
    1. Samson
      1. Would you consider this suicide?
      2. If not, why not?
    2. Jesus
      1. Jesus could have prevented the taking of His life,
      2. as He so forcefully told Peter,

        51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26.51–53).
    3. Do these parallel a person on life support not wanting to live anymore?
  4. The will to live 
    1. We eat daily to live.
    2. We protect ourselves.
    3. When we get sick, we seek to get well.
    4. Our question is how far do we go?
      1. Many of us have had life-threatening conditions
        1. that in another time and place,
        2. would have taken our lives already.
      2. Does that mean we should not pursue saving our lives?
        1. What should we do when no other options are available to us?
        2. Do we just give up and die?
      3. Not only has medical and scientific advancement made these questions possible, but
        1. someone else paying the bill has also made it possible.
          1. Even with our medical, scientific, and technological advances,
          2. would we be discussing this if
            1. someone else was not paying the bill?
            2. How has health insurance and the government also made this possible?
              1. Do you realize that insurance and the government
              2. have supplanted the family and church’s responsibility?
                1. First Timothy 5.8
                2. Psalm 71.9
      4. The Book of Proverbs speaks of the power of the spirit to make us well.
        1. Are you reading the Book of Proverbs everyday?
        2. Much of this Book is the result of a man
          1. who asked God for wisdom and He gave it.
          2. If God was present, would you ask Him about this issue?
      5. Consider Proverbs 1.1–6.

        1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
        2 To know wisdom and instruction,
        To perceive the words of understanding,
        3 To receive the instruction of wisdom,
        Justice, judgment, and equity;
        4 To give prudence to the simple,
        To the young man knowledge and discretion—
        5 A wise man will hear and increase learning,
        And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
        6 To understand a proverb and an enigma,
        The words of the wise and their riddles.
        (Pro 1.1–6)

        1. Consider the passages that speak of safety in counselors.
        2. With every year that passes our medical technology advances.
          1. Therefore, you will need to know the teaching of all the Bible, but
          2. especially the Book of Proverbs.
            1. Think about it, how often do people in America today,
            2. die suddenly?
              1. How many die of a disease immediately?
              2. Most Americans die in old age.
      6. God wants us to live.
        1. Yet, He also welcomes the death of His saints.


  1. Consider Ecclesiastes 3,

    1 To everything there is a season,
    A time for every purpose under heaven:
    2 A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
    A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
    3 A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
    A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
    4 A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
    5 A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
    A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
    6 A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
    A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
    7 A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
    8 A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
    A time of war,
    And a time of peace.
    (Ecc 3.1–8)
  2. Are we obligated to try every medical thing that comes along? 
    1. If not, what about the person who does try some medical phenomenon
    2. to save or prolong his life, but then
      1. decides no longer to use that medical tool?
      2. If it was not suicide before, how could it be afterwards?