Death bed conversions Q&A

question-mark.gifQ. Can someone convert to Christianity on their deathbed and still be forgiven and go to Heaven?
A. Yes. See the story of the criminal on the cross as well as many other stories of people who converted late in life or on their death bed, such as the father-in-law of Lee Strobel (author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith). Just before a life-ending stroke, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

I heard a true story about an American Indian who converted 2 weeks before his death. The man was a life long bigot who hated African Americans. Yet an African American minister heard that this man was dying and went to visit him in the hospital, even though they didn’t know each other. When the man’s daughter went to visit him, she found the minister there with her father, who was on his knees praying to accept Jesus! Only an awesome God could wipe away a lifetime of sin and hatred by having the minister – who had presumably suffered from the prejudices of others – be the one to lead the man to Christ.

Q. Is the death bed conversion strategy a good idea?
A. No. That type of faith probably isn’t the true faith that will save you. And you might die suddenly. Consider Hebrews 3:15: As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts . . .” Eternity is a mighty long time, so you don’t want to take chances with your final destination.

Finally, by waiting you are missing out on the joy in life that starts now when you trust in Jesus. He can transform you starting today.

Q. Is it fair that someone can convert on their deathbed after leading a sinful life and still go to heaven?
A. No, it isn’t fair. But probably not for the reasons you are thinking. Grace is never fair. That is why it is called grace. It is a gift you don’t deserve. God can give the gift whenever and to whomever He wants to. None of us deserve Heaven.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

10 thoughts on “Death bed conversions Q&A”

  1. Thanks for the feedback. I think I’ll use that style from time to time, as it breaks up long posts and feels more conversational. The challenge is to ask authentic questions and not “lead the witness” or set up straw men.–>

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  2. That one illustration of the thief on the cross blows away so many false teachings (The need for works, the need for baptism, we need to “earn” salvation). That is why I believe we have that episode in Scripture–to show that none of us is good enough. And that yes, even with our final breath, we can be reborn by the Spirit of God.

    But, nah, I wouldn’t go putting all my eggs in that basket. I’ve heard too many stories of kids that say, “I’m too young. I’ll think about all that Jesus stuff later” and then go out and smash up their car and get killed soon after.

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  3. Q. Is it fair that someone can convert on their deathbed after leading a sinful life and still go to heaven?

    If it is a true conversion, then it carries true repentance. That is likely to be quite a load to bear.

    Also the convert has missed a lifetime of advantages of being a Christian. Following Jesus is still the best life, even with suffering and persecution.

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  4. A deathbed conversion truly displays the awesomeness of God’s grace. I know personally of several conversions that happened just before death – and each time it was someone who had spent their whole life rejecting efforts by their loved ones to witness to them.

    God’s grace is truly amazing. What the Word says is true… He’s not willing that any should perish, and He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

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  5. Neil, in your first answer to the question, you said there are “many other stories of people who converted late in life or on their death bed, such as the father-in-law of Lee Strobel (author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith). Do you have links to the stories so that I can use them for discussions I am currently involved in? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Mr. Green,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I heard him tell that on the radio. I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find anything. If I come across something I’ll send you an email!

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