death of nonbelieving relative

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Puritan Board Freshman
If I could, I'd like some advice on dealing with the death of a non-believing relative. He never confessed Christ during his life nor at his deathbed, although he did pre arrange to have a minister present upon his death and he was semi conscious as I spoke scripture to him and urged him to turn to God. (apparently, the hospital chaplain was a realy tactless jerk when they prounounced my brother-in-law as dead the first time)
The relatives all know I'm an evangelical believer.
They know I believe that people who don't believe in Christ go to hell.
The widow let my wife and I do the 'last rites', where I assured them that God knows how much they loved him and that God is good and can be counted on to do the right thing with my brother-in-law's soul.
Those present as we prayed appreciated it.

The widow is adamant that he was always a good man and that her influence on him only brought out the good in him. (He bacame a considerably kinder man after he met his present wife)

I also posted something on fb which was considered to be fairly disrespectful to his memory so soon after his death, so I'm in their bad books right now.

So what do I say to them now?


Puritanboard Commissioner
apparently, the hospital chaplain was a realy tactless jerk when they prounounced my brother-in-law as dead the first time

Mote, log, eye?

And did you perhaps get this second hand from folks who might say the same about you?

My advice? When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.


Puritan Board Sophomore
Praying for you, Bob. All of my relatives are unbelievers, and I don't know how I'll handle these sorts of things if/when they come to pass. I think maybe just being a listening ear for them, any physical help you can give(food, cleaning, whatever of that sort). Be the Lord's hands. God bless you.


Puritan Board Freshman
I don't know if this helps or not but I still live with my mom and sister (and her husband and kids) every day I get to hear her yelling at the kids at the top of her lungs and they won't take constructive criticism, they all claim Christ but there is no fruit but thistles; my mother has enough dust on her bible cover to write the words "damnation" across. Now my grandparesnts who have a false assurance instilled in them from the organized religious system they have been influenced by their entire life, but my grandpa's dementia is to the point where he doesn't recognize me or can he carry on a conversation at all, they are the hardest for me to talk to about Christ because they believe that no one can understand the bible but their pastor.

So that was the dark side now for some light. My father and I got in a drag out full on fist fight when I was in high school in 03'. They got divorced then. Life went bad for me I did drugs and questioned christianity. But now I am well saved and God fearing and have been for about 7 years. My Dad is too and our relationship is better than it ever has been.

This slightly relevant story I hope just says your're not alone. It is really hard when those we love hate the object of our deepest affection, or sometimes worse are indifferent to God, but God is sovereign and He does what He pleases, and he has saved my dad, and me and a host of others and for that I praise Him and I know there is much to hope for some to many of your loved ones.

I will finish with this last story. I had a friend I used to pal around with in middle school for a few summers, spent the night at his house a lot, got into a lot of trouble together, and we were in a band together too, out of all my old friend he was one of the nicest, most likeable and less pretentious. A little over a year ago now he was hit by a drunk hit and run driver and he is in hell right now to the best of my knowledge. I had witnessed to him and there was no regeneration in him, from my understanding he was still hanging out with the old crowds and he himself was drunk the night he died walking home from the bar. So all odds point to him being in hell. I went to his showing and it was strange, the sadness and weeping was there but at the same time I was not questioning God. I was not yelling out "why Gog why?!?!" I was not saying "He was such a good guy" I knew he had his chance to repent, I knew God was sovereign, I knew that none are righteous and none deserve salvation; the question eventually became more of an "why me?" And the answer "Not anything I saw in your just My sovereign pleasure." Trust.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I knew he had his chance to repent, I knew God was sovereign, I knew that none are righteous and none deserve salvation; the question eventually became more of an "why me?"

I also have lost unbelieving friends, relatives and enemies. The worst boss I ever had was diagnosed with bladder cancer several years ago. He was passive-aggressive and made my life miserable. Yet, the Lord taught me to love him. I began to pray for him tenuously at first, and then in earnest when the cancer returned after his first round of treatments. Our relationship remained difficult, but I kept praying and came to truly love him. He told me in a threatening manner not to ever come quoting Bible verses or talk to him about God.

Finally, when he entered hospice and had his aging, ailing dog put down, I found the courage to share the gospel with him and gave him a Bible. He took it better than I had expected. I left the door open, letting him know he could call me at any time of the day or night and I would be happy to talk or just listen. He died several days later. I cried from the bottom of my heart over this man's death - not knowing if he repented and came to Christ or not. Sometimes I think of him and still cry. It seemed very strange not to pray for him after he was gone.

But, at his service, I met two other folks who were believers, whom God had sent into this man's life to share the gospel with him. None of us knew the others were in his life. He was almost a recluse and lived with his homosexual partner and dogs. A former employee who I had not met before, was praying for him and took him to lunch and shared the gospel with him.

Another former employee (this guy rarely left his house, except to work,) was a cancer survivor. When she learned of his diagnosis, she reached out to him and offered him encouragement and invited him to her church and he came one time. The three of us shared a sweet time of fellowship after his service. Though we had not met each other before, God had moved each of us to reach out to this man who so resisted him. It is amazing to see the demonstration of His love and mercy in reaching out to us in our sin. Yes, he had a chance to repent. I don't know if he did, but I trust God.


I will pray you will be comforted and that your relationship with your family will be healed. I also do not know what to say to those left behind after their loved ones have died, presumably without Christ. If you act in love towards them, perhaps in time they will respond to the fruit of the Spirit in your life. If you believe you spoke out of turn (even if well meaning), maybe you could send them a card expressing your apology and your desire for healing in your relationship?


Puritan Board Freshman
I found the courage to share the gospel with him and gave him a Bible. He took it better than I had expected.

That really encourages me because i've been told by family member's to "have my faith and let them have their own faith" and they claim to be christians but won't let me encourage or take prayer requests from them, so I have backed off speaking to them at all (kind of a pearls to swine thing) but that refreshes me to not give up and take any opportunity that Christ gives me without fear. Thank you much.

Your story about how the 3 of you who have never met but had been independently used of God to show His mercy to this man... wow... intensely beautiful, though such a simple thing, it really shows the truth of the scriptures and that God was working behind the scenes in such powerful ways, and on top of all that you guys ended up fellowshipping together. Just beautiful.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face. ~ Cowper


Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragements and your testimonies. It is very much appreicated. Blessings to you all.


The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Brother, There was probably a reason why the man wanted a minister there. That in and of itself is some form of confession. Maybe even like the thief hanging next to our Lord telling others Christ is innocent. Christ replied to that man, "today you will see me in paradise." That is not cheap grace either. Remember the parable Jesus spoke.

Mat 20:1    "For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.Mat 20:2    After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.Mat 20:3    And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,Mat 20:4    and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.'Mat 20:5    So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.Mat 20:6    And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?'Mat 20:7    They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.'Mat 20:8    And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.'Mat 20:9    And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.Mat 20:10    Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.Mat 20:11    And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,Mat 20:12    saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'Mat 20:13    But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?Mat 20:14    Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.Mat 20:15    Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'Mat 20:16    So the last will be first, and the first last."
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