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Featured Backsliding vs. Having Never Been Saved

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by StefanM, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    This is an issue that makes me do a decent amount of thinking.

    How do you know if you've just been backsliding vs. having never been saved in the first place?

    I wonder for personal reasons. Due to my mental illness, I periodically enter mood states (both "up" and "down") that can last for several weeks or more. During some of these extended periods, I occasionally become more religious and end up with a better devotional life. More frequently, though, I end up either having some sort of religious delusion (although not very often) or (quite often) turning away from God and looking into other religions, atheism, etc.

    When I emerge from the mood state, I typically move back toward God and the church, seeking to undo the damage, as much as is possible. I usually have some sort of sin for which I need to repent (sometimes more extreme than others).

    I know that I can't necessarily generalize my experience because it has factors from my bipolar disorder (such as delusions), but I would still be saved the same way as any other person. I'm just not sure how to interpret my inconsistent experiences.

    I've done the whole getting rebaptized thing because I thought my initial profession of faith was false, but I honestly don't know that it was. It's hard for me to get a real grasp on my experiences because I can't truly trust my own mind.

    Anyway, any of your thoughts are welcome. Just try not to bash me too much :).
     
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  2. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Moderator
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    I won't bash you. :)

    If you were genuinely saved at one point in your life, there is no delusion, bipolar extreme, deception of your own mind, or any other onslaught of any mental illness that can take that away. While you are in turmoil of the mind, you are also safe in the hands of Christ and nothing can pluck you from his hands.

    If you were not genuinely saved at one point in your life, there is no amount of baptisms or "seeking to undo damage" that will save you.

    My advice - for what it is worth? Seek out someone in person, such as a pastor or reliable/mature Christian and tell them face to face about your conversion experience as you remember it. How did God save you? Can you explain that in simple terms - no need for flowery or lofty words or Christianese-babble. Get some personal counsel and if you can recall that time when God called you and saved you, then take comfort in that.

    I'll be praying for you.
     
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  3. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    Thank you for your response. One major problem that I'm facing is my poor memory. Unfortunately, both my illness and the treatment I've received for the illness have wreaked havoc on my memory. It's hard for me to remember much of anything most of the time.

    Basically, all I can remember is praying as a child. I couldn't tell you what I prayed exactly or even the general overview of what I was praying. I just know that whatever I prayed, it was considered a conversion experience, and I was baptized.

    As an adult, several years later, I had some doubt about that experience, so I wanted to "get it right" by having a genuine conversion experience (at least I think so). I don't remember anything about this experience, though. I only know that afterwards I was baptized again.

    In subsequent years, I've had periods of backsliding that were rather extreme, but, so far, I've always returned.

    But I'll take your advice into consideration about speaking to someone. I'm supposed to meet up with one of the pastors at my church sometime in the next week or so after he returns from a mission trip. Hopefully, I won't forget to bring up the subject!
     
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  4. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Moderator
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    And again .... a loss of memory does not affect your salvation.

    That's why it's important to talk to someone. Even if you can't recall enough to give legitimacy to your conversion, someone else can. I truly believe that the fact you are concerned about it is a good sign.

    Keep us posted.
     
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  5. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    Oh I know the loss of memory wouldn't affect it. I just meant it would just affect my ability to describe my experiences to someone like my pastor. He might still be able to smash things together, but I can't paint him a good picture.

    What troubles me with respect to memory is that I DO seem to be able to recall most of the major sins/mistakes I've made over the years. Not all of them have been in a bipolar episode, but the majority of them (and definitely the worst ones) were, and I struggle with that. When I've been "out of my mind" (occasionally to the point of thinking I can move objects through mental energy or that I can control the devil through sheer willpower), I've made some really bad decisions, and I know I have to take responsibility for them (apologize, etc.). Even with mitigating factors like a bipolar episode, would my actions just be too much?

    Are they beyond what a Christian would be capable of doing, even an impaired one? And why do I almost always seem to turn away from God in an episode instead of toward him? Why is it that when I'm in such an episode that Christian teachings stop making sense to me? They end up making sense again eventually when I get past the episode, but why does my mind work like that?

    I apologize if I've rambled. I've just needed to get some of this off my chest, I suppose.
     
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  6. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    StefanM, welcome to the human race! :)

    We all, if we are honest about it, have ups and down in our life of faith. Perhaps not as extreme as yours, due to the chemical imbalance in your brain (which is no different from the chemical imbalance which results in diabetes or any other more "socially acceptable" illnesses), but nevertheless we all have those ups and downs. (By the way, I have never heard a diabetic apologize for being diabetic, and you own nobody an apology for being bipolar. It is not something that is in your control. If others fail to understand that, the fault lies with them, not with you.) :)

    There have been times in my life, and in my ministry, when I just had no desire at all to read and study the bible. But I knew that, at that time, it was then I needed that time in the bible the most. So I forced myself to read and study it. I set a bible reading schedule and stuck to it. Even when I didn't want to.

    The same has been true of my prayer life. I often just don't feel like talking to God (I tend not to like to talk to people all that much either, which is pretty odd considering I spent 45 years in ministry, which is all about talking to people). But when I don't feel like talking to Him is when I need to talk to him the most.

    Sometimes my prayer time is a long silence. Not saying anything. Just being in a state of communication. Some of the very best communication is when nothing at all is being said. Just an open heart before the throne of God.

    Just remember, the you at the bottom of your cycle (depressive phase) is not the real you. Nor is the you at the top of your cycle (the manic phase). The real you, like all of us, is the guy somewhere in the middle. And, as God is a gracious God who overlooks our faults and infirmities, that is good enough. :)

    Hang in there. Things will get better. I promise. :)
     
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  7. HeDied4U

    HeDied4U Well-Known Member
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    Here's another one that won't bash you. As someone who struggles with depression, I can relate to what you're going thru. I've had people tell me that my two attempts at suicide prove I was never really saved over 30 years ago. I let those people influence my thinking and that led to what I believe was additional bouts of depression.

    The advice Scarlett gave is sound and wise. It wasn't until I talked with Godly people that I was able to once again know that God did indeed call me to Him and saved me on that night so long ago.

    May you be able to find that assurance as well.
     
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  8. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    The fact that you are consistently drawn back to God is extremely strong evidence that you are part of God's people.

    We do not come into right standing with God by our faithfulness or our actions, but our actions can improve our ability to remain faithful to God so that we do not struggle with as many doubts. I encourage you to find some trusted friends who are passionate about following Jesus and pursue character formation and acts of service together. Spiritual disciplines probably won't cure mental illnesses cause by chemical imbalances, but I have heard testimonies that it helps moderate the extremes.
     
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  9. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    Thanks, TCassidy. I appreciate the encouraging words.

    One bit of clarification--when I mentioned apologizing---that's mostly for how it has affected my wife. I've hurt her by my actions, and, even if I had an impairment at the time, those actions still have painful consequences. This is a big reason why I want to try to stay as stable as possible---for the sake of my marriage and my family.
     
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  10. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    Thank you for the kind words. I've not had any attempts myself, but I've been in the hospital twice (including a few weeks ago) in order to prevent them from happening.

    I wish you the best, fellow traveler!
     
  11. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    That's an interesting thought about being drawn back.

    I see your point regarding service, etc. I'm in the process of trying to be in touch with a couple men (my lifegroup leader and one of the pastors on staff), and I hope to get with them soon. (They've been busy and/or out of town.) I know my big thing is going to be trying to find the right avenue of service. I've been very unstable recently, so I definitely can't do something like helping with 5th graders--that would drive me even more crazy than I am! But perhaps something will come up at the right time.
     
  12. Reynolds

    Reynolds Well-Known Member
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    If you are really saved, you know it. If you have the indwelling of The Holy Spirit, you are confident of it. "Religion" and being born again have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Some of the most religious people I know are going to bust Hell wide open.
     
  13. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    I'm not so sure it's that simple. Even Christ cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" It seems to me that we lesser ones (who aren't the Son of God) might also have some times of doubt and concern.
     
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  14. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    Nonsense! There is a HUGE difference between salvation and assurance of salvation.

    Mark 9:24b "said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

    More nonsense.

    We know the Holy Spirit is with us because God's Word says so.

    Every born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, but not every believer is fully controlled by the Holy Spirit, and there is a HUGE difference.

    Paul comments on this truth, and he uses an illustration that helps us to understand. “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The context of this passage is the walk and the warfare of the Spirit-filled believer. Therefore, there is something more here than just a warning about drinking too much wine.

    When people are drunk with too much wine, they exhibit certain characteristics: they become clumsy, their speech is slurred, and their judgment is impaired. Paul sets up a comparison here. Just as there are certain characteristics that identify someone who is controlled by too much wine, there should also be certain characteristics that identify someone who is controlled by the Holy Spirit. We read in Galatians 5:22-24 about the “fruit” of the Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit’s fruit, and it is exhibited by the born-again believer who is under His control.

    What is important to understand is that trees bear fruit in their season, but there are times when the tree is barren. Our Christian lives are not perfect. We do not bear the fruit of the Spirit continually.

    But the point is that we are not filled with the Spirit because we feel we are, but because this is the privilege and possession of the Christian.
     
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  15. Calv1

    Calv1 Active Member

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    Brother, you may have Scrupulosity, Religious OCD. I had it when I was young, suffered beyond suffering, and now counsel people with it. Yeah you can have full assurance, then you might get a frightening fantasy.

    Tell me do you get intrusive thoughts? That is thoughts opposite of how you think that enter your mind and scare you? Like blasphemous thoughts? If so I can get you better. Good news you join a great case, Martin Luther, John Bunyon, millions of others in silence as the Church is pretty naive on the topic, though the medical world is well aware.

    If you are worried enough to put up this post, don't worry, the unsaved don't care. If you believe Jesus is God, have ever had affections for Him, and most of all WORRIED, don't, well you can't help it. Your problem is not theology, though I haven't looked at yours, but mental. Get back to me, as I say this is what I do.

     
  16. StefanM

    StefanM Well-Known Member
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    I don't really have intrusive thoughts. I may have blasphemous thoughts, especially if I'm in a psychotic state, and I may have anti-Christian thoughts at times, but I typically seem to believe them (or at least think I do) at the time.

    I'm sure that the problem is heavily related to my mental health, without a doubt.
     
  17. Reynolds

    Reynolds Well-Known Member
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    I would respectfully disagree that my statements are "nonsense."
    Mark 9:24 is not dealing with salvation or assurance of salvation.
    Ones relationship with The Holy Spirit is not about a feeling. One who has been filled with The Holy Spirit has a definite confidence of that relationship. The relationship has a realness and a confidence.
    As Bailey Smith used to say, if one questions their salvation, its because they are not saved.
     
  18. TCassidy

    TCassidy Late-Administator Emeritus
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    There is a HUGE difference between being indwelt and being filled with the Holy Spirit.
    Then Bailey Smith is a fool.
     
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  19. Mr. Davis

    Mr. Davis Active Member
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    I know a brother in the Lord who also has bipolar disorder. Sometimes he doubts his salvation, too.

    Besides taking medicine, he attends Church regularly, reads the Bible, and prays for his family and those who attend his Church.

    When this friend has stopped taking his medication, he gets delusions of grandure and becomes very paranoid.

    He went 10 years without a relapse. Then, three years ago, wanting "more energy," he stopped taking his meds. VA hospitalization ensued and now he looks forward to extending three years of stability in to the years ahead.

    God loves you very much. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will guide you through the difficult times and clear your thoughts so that you can concentrate on Him.
     
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  20. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer Well-Known Member
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    In a normal situation, yes. Most people can have confidence in their salvation if they are walking in obedience.

    Bailey Smith has a long history of saying unbiblical, damaging things about salvation and many other topics, including his infamous, "...God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew" teaching.

    While I do believe there are many who are on the church rolls who have not truly come to faith, a simple assertion that a period of doubt is evidence of not being in the family of God is false. Especially in an age and culture where the church does not emphasize discipleship and spiritual formation. If one is not being discipled and experiencing the reality of the Kingdom of God each day, then it is quite reasonable that someone would doubt.

    I have had friends who passed through the baptismal waters four and five times trying to get the salvation "feeling" (no doubt) because they believed the lie that Bailey Smith and other evangelists teach, when they simply needed to relax and engage themselves in the Kingdom and experience the life of Christ developing in them.
     
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