The terminology “deathbed confession” is generally understood to mean that a person who is near death or believes that he or she is dying feels the need to confess their sins.  In determining whether or not a deathbed confession is an acceptable means of obtaining forgiveness of sins, let us analyze the inspired scriptures.  First of all, we ask, is the person who confesses their sins while in the process of dying an alien sinner or an erring child of God?  An alien sinner is a person without Christ, God, or hope of eternal life (Eph. 2:12).  Alien sinners are those souls accountable to God who have never obeyed the gospel of Christ.  Those individuals are not in the spiritual family of the Heavenly Father.  Children of God, who sin, are among those who have obeyed the gospel, but have become unfaithful.  

   There are two laws of pardon under the Christian dispensation.  Those two avenues of pardon are for the alien sinner and the erring child of God.  Since an alien sinner is not in the spiritual family of God, he or she needs to “be born again of the water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).  This is accomplished when a person obeys the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16; Rom. 6:17-18).  In obeying the gospel to be saved, every alien sinner must receive the Word of God by either hearing or reading it (James 1:21; Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31); believing it (John 8:24; Heb. 11:6); repenting of sins (Acts 17:30-31); confessing their faith in Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Matt. 10:32-33); and to be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16).  There is not anyone who can bypass the law of pardon for the alien sinner by attempting to pray through for salvation. 

   The erring child of God must repent, confess his or her sins, pray to God for forgiveness of their sins, and become faithful unto the Lord (Acts 8:18-24; I John 1:8-9; Rev. 2:1-5). 

   No one should wait until dying before turning to the Lord.  We should devote our entire life to Him (Eccl. 12:13).  You and I cannot look into the spiritual heart of a dying person who confesses their sins.  Nevertheless, it is dangerous for any person to procrastinate until their dying moment to turn unto God.  There is the danger that a person’s heart will have already hardened (conscience become seared) because of their continually rejecting the will of God (Heb. 3:13; I Tim. 4:2).   

   It is true that some in their sunset years of their life obey the gospel.  However, a “deathbed confession” is not a substitute to obeying the gospel of Christ (II Thes. 1:7-9).

--Dub Mowery


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