A “deathbed conversion” is where a person does not accept Christ and accept the gift of Salvation until he/she is about to die.
Are these possible?
Well, if the person is sincere in his/her convictions and truly accepts Christ, then yes, it is very possible.
Some Christians don’t want to think that it’s possible. Mainly because it isn’t fair that these people get to do all the sinning they want to and then get saved right before death, thus having to do nothing for the Kingdom of God, yet they still get to Heaven with the “good” Christians who live and breathe church and ministry all their lives.
Of course, this isn’t the mindset we should have. If a soul gets saved from Hell, we should rejoice, because God sure is celebrating every time someone comes to believe, even if it is a last minute thing. That is the beauty of grace, it makes life not fair.
The Bible even has an example of a deathbed conversion, the story of our friend the “good thief.” When Jesus was hung between the two thieves, the one who had his eyes opened (who was obviously on his deathbed) repented and was saved. Jesus told him that he would be in Heaven that day. Jesus doesn’t grant special favors when it comes to Salvation. Therefore, we must conclude that people can be saved at any time.
This man was a thief, and had been for a long time, but at the end of his life, almost the very end, he saw who Jesus really was, and was saved.
So, I know what some of you are thinking. You’re thinking that I’m giving people a free pass to live unrepentant, sinful lives and then just toss God a “my bad” in the ER and things will be hunky dory.
This is not the case. In fact, even though I think deathbed conversions are possible, I believe that if you PLAN a deathbed conversion, it’s most likely not going to happen.
The danger with planning to convert on your deathbed is putting off salvation.
First off, we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. You could get hit by a bus today. If you wait, you might not get the chance and it’s goodbye Heaven!
Also, if you wait until you are old and gray, you will have spent your entire life thinking you can be saved the last few days of your life and then you could trivialize it. You will have spent so long thinking it was not that important that, in the end, you won’t be able to truly accept Christ. Your heart will have hardened. So, you missed your chance.
Anyone who is planning a deathbed conversion doesn’t understand Salvation, doesn’t understand Jesus, doesn’t know how faith works. It’s not a light switch, it’s not a password, it’s not hocus pocus.
You believe or you don’t. If you don’t believe up until the last moment, logically, how likely is it you can truly come to believe on your deathbed?
So, are deathbed conversions possible? Yes, if someone has a genuine faith experience. Otherwise, you’ve lived your life without ever finding the meaning and purpose behind it.
I wouldn’t put it off. Why wait? How about you live a blessed life now? It’s so much more satisfying.
Matthew Coker is a Media Director at a church in his hometown, where he also is a leader at a Celebrate Recovery program. He’s a huge comic book nerd, Whovian, and Funko Pop Collector. Matthew and his wife live in New Mexico.