[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Faith and Illness

by David Wyatt

I had the opportunity of speaking with a person that wants to be a believer. That sounds strange, you say. Either they are, or they are not, right? That is the question I raise in this post. This dear soul believes in Christ as Savior. Yet, this person also has bi-polar disease, & hardly ever "feels" born again. This struggling soul has "asked Christ" for salvation over and over, but wonders if he "did it right." I tried to go over salvation again with him & assured him that if he believes in Christ as his Savior, that the Bible says he is saved forever. We also looked at some Scriptures, including Romans 10:13-14, and 1 John 5:9-13. I asked him if he had believed Christ had given him eternal life when he asked in faith, & the answer was a positive, "Yes!" But, the clouds of doubt & depression remain. I ache for him. What do you think we can tell this person?

36 Comments:

  • It is impossible to make someone believe. If he is persuaded, that through simple faith in Jesus through His promise, he has everlasting life, then he will have certain assurance. If he remains unpersuaded that simple faith in Christ through His promise is sufficient to possess irrevocable eternal life, there are only a few things you can do:

    continue to show this man the promises of Christ in the gospel of John (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-26)

    pray for him

    He must look to Jesus and Him alone by way of His gratuitous promises if he is to have certain assurance of salvation. He must take his eyes of of self and place them firmly on Jesus.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 8:06:00 PM  

  • Persuasion can come by persistently considering the evidence with an open mind, and deliberation upon that evidence. The fact of the matter is that if this man has never been certain that he had irrevocable eternal life by faith in Jesus alone, he is unsaved, even if he has "asked" or "prayed" or whatever. Eternal salvation only comes when one simply believes.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 8:10:00 PM  

  • David, if this person believes in Christ as Savior in the Johannine sense, he will invariably have certain assurance, for assurance is of the essence of saving faith.

    It is impossible to believe that one guarantees your eternal destiny (IOW is your SAVIOR) and doubt that at the same time.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 8:12:00 PM  

  • Oh, by the way, David. Good post. I am sure that it will spark alot of conversation.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 8:12:00 PM  

  • Hey David. I think you should cover the Cross and Resurrection thoroughly, and then ask him to take a look at John 11:25-27 and 20:31. Once someone sees the sufficiency of the Cross in removing all sins the world would ever commit, it becomes so easy to believe the promise of eternal life. Some people think the expression "believe in Him" is complicated, when obviously it's not. Show this man that believing "in" Jesus and that believing "that" Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God are equivalent.

    The expression "Believing that" is more comforting to people. I know it is to me! Explain to this man that faith is not a decision, but a passive conviction THAT they are eternally secure through Jesus. Explain the Cross/Resurrection, as it is the power of God that is instrumental in believing THAT you are eternally secure through Jesus.

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 8:57:00 PM  

  • To elaborate, it seems that this man's problem lies in thinking that faith is a decision. When I used to think faith was a decision, I don't remember having assurance. I was just like the man you are describing. I used to wonder if i "did it right." Antonio and Bob were instrumental in helping me see that faith is passive. Once I studied the issue further, it made perfect sense. I finally was passively convinced that faith is passive conviction :).

    Everything clicked, and I was passively convinced that I am eternally secure through Jesus, since he completely paid my sin penalty and was raised for my permanent justification :)

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 9:02:00 PM  

  • So make sure to explain to this man that faith is passive, that Jesus' Death/Resurrection has completely removed the sin barrier, that faith isn't a feeling, and that believing that Jesus is the Christ, through whom you are eternally secure, is obviously passive. Make sure to emphasize believing THAT. The expression "believe THAT" is easier to grasp than "believe in".

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 9:07:00 PM  

  • I said, "The expression 'Believing that' is more comforting to people. I know it is to me!"

    If it wasn't clear, I meant that it's wonderful to know that "believing THAT" is obviously passive. It's wonderful to know that I didn't have to make a decision. I simply believed that I am eternally secure through Jesus.

    By Anonymous danny, at Thursday, September 06, 2007 11:57:00 PM  

  • If we are faithless, He is faithful for He cannot deny Himself.

    I think there is nothing else to say concerning his salvation, he has believed, "the answer was a positive 'yes!'"

    I think he is in danger of not entering God's rest for His people hear on earth.

    http://okie-dokies.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_archive.html

    The above link is what I believe about God's rest.

    Jesus is alive and will raise him up on the last day even though he may not ever cease from his works and enter His rest here on earth.

    By Blogger Kris, at Friday, September 07, 2007 12:37:00 AM  

  • Wow, that is tough. That would be really hard to have bipolar disorder. Just keep pointing Him to Christ and His completed work. Scripture should answer his doubts, but it may take time.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, September 07, 2007 5:41:00 AM  

  • David asking is not believing. Were not told to ask but to believe! (Asking,,,your always going to wonder if you did it right). I had the same problem with my wife who had to be in a mental ward for months. I spent hours upon hours, years upon years, trying to convince her that God loved her. The seeds that were sown in her early childhood (never told she was loved, always couldn't do enough). Then in her adult life we lost two children. Then told by my brother (5 point-Calvinist pastor) maybe she wasn't one of the elect! This was easy for her to believe!

    In the mental ward she was lying in bed with her head at the wrong end. She had a peace come over her and wanted God to just take her. The nurses came in and were going to move her. She didn't want them to touch her because of the great peace that she was experiencing. From that point she sensed God loved her, healing began. My little daughter and I were able to go get her after a couple more months. And David here is the twist, after that I was telling her if she was really saved she would be doing the Lords work. She told me "I can't do anything unless God does it in me." She new it had to be ALL of Him, I didn't I was a Lordship Salvationist without even knowing it. It wasn't until I got Zane's book "Absolutely Free" that I understood!!! I was persuaded by checking Zane's book against the Bible, I was amazed!!! It's true, it really is a free gift!!! My wife new it before I did, because she was helpless she believed like a little child would. Me I had a healthy mind and thought I could do it, and had to do it, of course with God's help? When I explained it all to my wife, she said "I new it had to be that way."

    David what Danny said was excellent, and worth repeating:

    danny said...

    Hey David. I think you should cover the Cross and Resurrection thoroughly, and then ask him to take a look at John 11:25-27 and 20:31. Once someone sees the sufficiency of the Cross in removing all sins the world would ever commit, it becomes so easy to believe the promise of eternal life. Some people think the expression "believe in Him" is complicated, when obviously it's not. Show this man that believing "in" Jesus and that believing "that" Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God are equivalent.



    alvin said: David, this is what we got over the Calvinist. They don't know if their one of the ones Jesus paid for? We know "NO ONE WAS LEFT OUT!!! Explaining the cross makes it so much easier to believe in Jesus FOR eternal life. And at the moment he believes THAT Jesus is The Christ he has that living water that springs up into eternal life, AND WILL NEVER THIRST AGAIN.

    Jesus is Lord,,,,,,alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Friday, September 07, 2007 5:19:00 PM  

  • Thank you all for your compassionate posts. I apologize for the delay in responding. Much work and church responsibilities lately.
    It is interesting that you, Alvin & Antonio, mention that asking the Lord for salvation is not the same as believing Him for it. I agree that the Bible never tells us to ask. But I must also say that if a person believes in Christ as Savior but has asked in faith, that this person may very well be saved. But, I would be leery of suggesting to person that they must ask, even in faith. Have you brethren noticed the Foreword to bro. Hodges' book "Absolutely Free"? There are actually 2 of them, one by Earl Radmacher, & the one I am interested in here, by Luis Rodriguez. I quote: "How easy it was for a boy of 9 to understand the freeness of the Gospel that was taught (where he was saved). The gift of eternal life was received by just asking for it! But how soon we forget how we came to trust the Lord..." (Z. Hodges, "Absolutely Free" p. ix)
    I think that is interesting, especially as a foreword to THIS book. I must say I personally have no problem with it. Bro. Alvin, I am so sorry that your dear wife had to go through such an ordeal, but I also am thankful that the Lord ministered to her heart. The point that I am making here, is that if a person asked the Lord to save them, & believed that He did, due to His work on the cross, & due to His promise, I would not tell them that they were somehow not saved since they "did it wrong." What do y'all think?
    Also I just want to reiterate that you brothers & sisters in Christ are a blessing to me. Rose. I appreciate your comment.
    The Lord Jesus Christ is SO GOOD!!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Friday, September 07, 2007 7:27:00 PM  

  • Hey David. Yes, if a person who asks Jesus for eternal life is absolutely convinced that they are permanently secure through Jesus, then indeed they have eternal life. But I strongly recommend that we never ask anyone to ask Jesus, as 1) it's not Biblical and 2) Most people who ask are only hoping, not believing.

    Also, Jesus does use the word "ask" as a figure for belief in John 4:10 when he was talking to the woman at the well, but it's only a figure. Jesus uses figures for believing throughout John, including - hear, ask, come, drink, eat.

    Hey Alvin, I'm glad you liked that paragraph of mine.

    By Anonymous danny, at Friday, September 07, 2007 7:42:00 PM  

  • Right, bro. Danny. I agree. That's why I said I'd be leery of telling anyone to "ask".

    I especially appreciate your point about asking being a "figure". Maybe that's what bro. Rodriguez meant in his foreword. Whaddaya thank??

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Friday, September 07, 2007 7:47:00 PM  

  • It is all about clarity and biblical precision, David. Where in the bible are we told to ask Jesus to eternally save us?

    If belief is enough and we are told 150 + times that faith alone in Jesus is the condition, why would we use unbiblical and technically inaccurate terminology that can be confusing at best?

    Furthermore, if someone wishes to look to the bible for objective certain assurance of their salvation, how will he be able to verify that he is saved by a simple appeal to Scripture when none matches up with his evangelistic experience?

    The whole thing with my position is that it is incumbant upon us to use biblical phraseology and terminology. Why would we ever want to tell someone that they must pray or ask for salvation when there is really no substantiation for either of these things?

    If during such asking or praying one is actually placing their certain hope upon Jesus for their irrevocable eternal well-being, they of course are saved. By why must we put in our two cents that can be amiguous and confusing? There is no language like biblical language.

    When one understands that it is by believing they are prepared for the PRESENT possession of CERTAIN assurance. They only must look to Christ through His promise in faith.

    If they have been told that they must pray or ask, then how are they to gain assurance? They will be worried if they prayed or asked right. Maybe they will presently be continuing to pray and ask for salvation. This can lead to many problems!

    But when it is simply by believing, at any moment we may look to Christ in His promise and be certainly assured of eternal life.

    If it is by asking or praying, people may be wondering if they prayed or asked right, or if they want assurance now, they may think that they must continue to ask or pray, wondering if they are now doing it right.

    John 11:26 says "whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die unto eternity [see Greek]. Do you believe this?"

    If someone believes that then they are assured that they will never die unto eternity.

    BELIEF

    not ask or pray

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, September 07, 2007 8:17:00 PM  

  • Right bro. Antonio. Pretty much what we've been saying. I think we agree! Like I said, I would be mighty leery of asking (ha!) someone to "ask", but if they did so in faith as you mentioned, I'd not try to make them doubt it because they "did it wrong." OK, thank you all for your input & friendship in Christ.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Friday, September 07, 2007 8:28:00 PM  

  • Hi David, have you read Luis's life story "Here Walks My Enemy" by Zane Hodges? When Luis was a young boy he went to sunday school with a friend. The sunday school teacher held up a fifty cents and said it was free if someone wanted it they could come up and get it. Luis didn't believe him, so another boy went up and got it. Luis was upset with himself afterwards. So if I remember right he stayed after to talk with the teacher.
    quote:The teacher sat down with him on one of the benches. In simple terms he explained that the Lord Jesus Christ had died for Luis's sins and was only asking Luis to trust Him by accepting the gift which His death had provided. Behind the words Luis was hearing echoed the clear statements of Jesus Himself: "Verly, verily, I say to you, he who believes on Me has everlasting life," and, "Whoever wants to, let him take the water of life freely."
    Then it happened. The most decisive supernatual event of Luis's life transpired while he sat on that rude, handmade bench. With complete childlike simplicity Luis opened his heart to eternal life. In that instant, the Creator of the universe became his own heavenly Father.

    blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Friday, September 07, 2007 8:30:00 PM  

  • David,

    I would never bring up the past EVER when discussing with someone how they might have present certain assurance! We don't cling to a moment in the past for assurance.

    We look presently to Christ in Faith through His promises.

    Certain assurance only comes through looking to Christ in His promise in faith. This is true at the moment of salvation, and everyday afterward!

    Good talking with you, bro. David,

    Antonio

    "JESUS IS LORD!" yeah yah!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, September 07, 2007 9:11:00 PM  

  • Hey David. I know you don't ask people to pray. I didn't mean to imply that you do. I'm glad you're leery of it. As to Rodriguez' foreword, I'm not sure if he meant it literally or as a figure. I think it's more likely that he literally asked Jesus, but he obviously is absolutely convinced that he is eternally secure through Jesus, so it's all good. Still, he should have used the word believe in the foreword. :)

    By Anonymous danny, at Friday, September 07, 2007 11:51:00 PM  

  • Hey I sure do thank y'all for commenting on this foreword! I really appreciated what bro. Luis said. Bro. Alvin, thanks fer sharing that!

    You're right bro. Antonio about present assurance. But I also believe Scripture bears out every now & then thinking on what teh Lord has done is our lives & thanking Him for that. But, you are exactly right on assurance being an up-to-date thing!
    An more thoughts on the original topic of this thread, faith & illness? God Bless y'all!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:05:00 PM  

  • I'm sorry, bro. Danny. I didn't mean to ignore your comment. Thanks. No, I didn't think you were saying that I asked folks to pray. Of course, even this would be acceptable I believe still if the perosn knows it is faith in Christ & not a prayer that saves. Like they just wanted to thank the Lord for savionjg them! I have actually asked folks if they wanted to do that, but not til I was confident that their confidence was in Christ alone!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:09:00 PM  

  • Cowper had these struggles and I heard that he lit up with a big smile on his face as he died. It was as if it was a smile of surprise as I heard Dr Lutzer put it once.

    More on Cowper Here

    By Blogger Only Look, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:50:00 PM  

  • and Here

    Good post David

    By Blogger Only Look, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 2:52:00 PM  

  • Thanks bro. Brian. When I discovered Wm. Cowper I marveled that he experienced such depression. He is a good example of what we are speaking of in this thread, bro. Brian! You win the "best illustration" award! From what I have read about his life, he struggled with some form of mental malady & even attempted suicide at least once. Yet he wrote amazingly Biblically-informed hymns. He may have had what is today referred to as "bi-polar" disorder, I don't know. His case may be much like the one I mentioned in the opening post. Of course, Cowper is gone & we cannot interact with him. But, though he seemed to have genuinely trusted in Christ, he still had terrific battles with uncertainty. It makes one wonder if the mental problems had any influence on this. Any thoughts?

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 5:39:00 PM  

  • Cowper was controlled by his female cousin and she interfered with his life and sometimes that can cause depression and then Mary died and had her own share of physical problems I think. He had a tough life with little sign of victory in it which can lead to more depression. In some of Jeremiahs prayers he seems to be a bit bipolar praising God and then in the same sentence cursing the day he was born. How much is a chemical malady or how much is spiritual warfare I do not know. Even the apostle Paul says he faced times of despair. King David in the Psalms mentions being paralyzed by fear. Joni Earickson has faced this as well. In the end only God knows but we are to encourage people to believe and not doubt and the more we reckon with the promises of God for those of us who have already called on the Lord the more we incourage people in our identification I believe and His resurrection life where he tells us to rejoice and that His joy is to be our strength. Also praying for our taunters and maligners as Job did his friends will break forth our captivity as it did Job. Paul and Silas praised God and it is there in spite of our circumstances that God can deliver us from our prisons that no one else may understand or experience. I posted a beautiful Cowper poem at the end of this post HERE

    Thanks brother Dave. This is a edifying post.

    By Anonymous Brian, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 7:17:00 PM  

  • >It makes one wonder if the mental problems had any influence on this. Any thoughts?<

    Quite possible, but unfortunately often this person gets written off as a King Saul type personality when we all just dont know. The radical nature of the New Covanent trumps everything and He is risen and old things have passed away and we Have newness of life In Him. We must always remember this.

    By Anonymous brian, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 7:21:00 PM  

  • My Dad suffered from mental illness. He and an elder of the church installed a gas stove in our house. My Dad went off to work, and when he returned my mom was dead at the foot of my bed. My brother was almost two and I was six months. If not for the neighbor calling and ambulance right away we would have both died. All the time I was growing up I remember taking my Dad to the mental institute every couple years or so. When he was well he would preach in the parks in Portland. He always seemed to have a mission going somewhere. The last time he was in a mental institute he tried to drown himself, but realized he wanted to live. He swam out of the lake and when they found out they put him in a straight jacket. A couple of his brothers brought him his bible and glasses. They prayed over him. He was delivered by just sitting there reading his bible. He hasn't had to go back since. That was about 10 yrs ago. Since then he has passed out 1000's of traks door to door. He's not to happy with my belief though. Last time I talked to him he told me I was on my way to hell. Anyway I've been around mental illness all my life. Even someone who seems to be strong in faith, can all of a sudden become devistated by mental attacks. He heard voices trying to destroy him.
    blessings alvin goodnight

    By Blogger alvin, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 8:09:00 PM  

  • Alvin,

    God saves. Not only eternally, but temporally. You have been through so much. Praise God that He has sustained you and held you up during all the different afflictions in your life. What a testimony. What a God we serve.

    Thanks for your prayers and partnership with me for my trip to India.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Saturday, September 08, 2007 10:15:00 PM  

  • Amen to that Antonio, God has been faithful!!!

    By Blogger alvin, at Sunday, September 09, 2007 3:53:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Sunday, September 09, 2007 7:13:00 PM  

  • Bro. Alvin,

    Since bro. Antonio said it so well, I will simply second his post to you! God Bless you my brother, & I am thankful to be able to call you so!

    The same goes for you too, bro. Antonio.
    Bro. Brian, I appreciate your friendship in the Gospel as well. You really brought up an excellent point in the post regarding Jeremiah almost seeming bi-polar at times. I know Paul tells us that the Lord uses the weak things to shame the wise! (1 Co.1:27-29)
    Man, I can't wait to meet you brethren, either here, there or in the air!

    By the eay, I deleted the last post because I was so excited to post this, that I made almost 1,887 typos!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Sunday, September 09, 2007 7:15:00 PM  

  • Thank you brother David, when we are weak He is strong! The Lord has blessed me with a loving wife and daughter. I couldn't ask for anymore! And I've had 55 years of good health. The Lord has been good to me,,,,blessings alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at Sunday, September 09, 2007 7:52:00 PM  

  • Amen, bro. Alvin. He certainly has ben & is to me as well. (Ps.107:2,9) God Bless.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Sunday, September 09, 2007 7:59:00 PM  

  • I was making pretty good headway with my Dad on Free-Grace. But then he asked me to make him up a tract. And when he couldn't find repentance on it anywhere he gave me a call. From that point it was pretty much down hill. He was living with my 5-point Calvinist Pastor brother, which didn't help as far as doctrine. I love my brother dearly, and he is about the best person you could meet, but he thinks Calvinism is the gospel. I think at one time they both believed the truth, but got messed up into Lordship salvation.

    I spent most of a summer camping out by myself in Montana. I took my Bible and Zane's book "Harmony With God." I had to know for sure what to tell people. I came away convinced that Zane was right on!!
    My Dad believes I'm giving another gospel. But I'm praying that their eyes are open to the truth.
    blessings alvi,,,gn

    By Blogger alvin, at Sunday, September 09, 2007 8:57:00 PM  

  • We'll have us a tea party going up brother and do like ol Matthew and have a spot of tea.

    I really appreciate you brother Dave. I was having a terrible spiritual battle one weekend and one night I was up all night having a Jeremiah back and forth with God and just constantly calling out to him. I cried out and asked God to give me some kind of sign to let me know he is out there hearing. I felt bad for asking for a sign....but out of nowhere you popped into my blog. I couldnt believe it, I just couldnt believe it. God used you to encourage me to keep the faith. I had no clue that you were out there and if your were I wasnt paying attention or even thinking the BBN David Wyatt was out there. Praise God you encouraged me in such a mighty way that I often think about that long night of prayer and much groaning in my spirit and then the following day seeing you pop in on my blog.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Monday, September 10, 2007 6:45:00 PM  

  • Well, bro. Brian, the Lord just now used you to encourage me. I genuinely thank you for sharing that with me.

    I know it was Him, & we'll just praise Him together for being so kind toward us as we move toward the finish line. Oh, bro. Brian, I want to finish well. I know you do too. That's why I aprreciate all you brethren & sisterns!!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Monday, September 10, 2007 7:59:00 PM  

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