AT THE END OF THE DAY
he lady who spoke to me was aware that the Scripture indicates
that it is 'those who endure to the end who shall be saved'; her
father had been a staunch believer, but during the last two years
of his life he had suffered from altzeimer's disease. Would this
affect his hope of salvation?
Just then it occurred to me that many must have asked similar
questions, when elderly relatives had descended into mental
confusion. Where was the Holy Spirit when that happened? Again,
the Holy Bible calls the Holy Spirit the 'Spirit of a sound mind'
- how come, then, that people who have have been staunch in the
faith can deteriorate into mental confusion? Does the Holy Spirit
These are some of the questions which Christians are increasingly
asking. I answer this question by making several points which we
need to be aware of;
1. The Holy Spirit is not a 'possessing' Spirit.
Occasionally Christians confuse the properties of God's Spirit
with the properties of possessing spirits (or demons). We should
not do that. Demons come into a disordered mind and make it even
worse. They set up home there, they strive to push, to dominate,
to dictate the actions of that particular individual. Demons feel
a mission to influence people as much as possible, they wish to
arrive at a point where they can just go in and take inner
possession of people. Of course, Christians don't need to fear
this, but we should also be aware of Satan's devices. Matthew
12:43-45 is a Scripture which describes the demon's desire for
possession well. But we should not forget that, against this,
there are an army of angels which seek to help and protect the
The action of the Holy Spirit is quite different; that Spirit
seeks to guide and lead us into God's will for us, He will guide
us and empower us. Yes, sometimes we say that whereas in the Old
Testament the Spirit of God appeared to create, guide, lead and
empower in a more external sense, in the New Testament the Spirit
of God appears to be more of an indwelling Spirit within God's
people; but that should not lead any to think of the Holy Spirit
as a Spirit which takes possession of people, HE MOST CERTAINLY
DOES NOT DO THAT.
Unfortunately, the concept of the Spirit of God as being a Spirit
which takes possession of people has certainly crept into areas
of the charismatic movement. All too often one finds charismatics
believing that the Spirit should take possession of them, throw
them to the ground, and cause them to do amazing things. Yes, the
Spirit indwells believers; to the degree that they walk with God,
but He does not possess - it is quite different!
Jesus compared the behaviour of the Spirit to the wind in John
"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it,
but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is
everyone who is born of the Spirit"
(John 3: 8 ; NKJV throughout)
We cannot put a lid on the Holy Spirit nor dictate where He is
working at any particular point in time. This whole concept rules
out any notion that 'indwelling' is another way of saying,
'possession'. The Spirit is at work throughout the earth and
throughout creation, though He is mainly involved in magnifying
Jesus Christ, but any notion that the Spirit of God can be
'bottled up' is unscriptural. The indwelling of God's Spirit in
the believer, therefore, is nothing like 'possession'.
In contrast to that, demons are very limited in power and sphere
of influence and are more interested in affecting particular and
localised people and situations. Once we clear our minds of any
thoughts that the Spirit possesses Christians, we find that we
don't need to say, 'Where did the Spirit go?' when elderly
Christians tragically succomb to mental confusion. This is the
first point we need to make.
2.When the Scripture speaks of those who 'endure to the end'
being saved (Matthew 24: 13), that is speaking of those who don't
depart from the faith, it is not even addressing the issue of
people who are prevented from walking as closely to Jesus Christ
as they would wish due to illness!
To be frank, we all know that it is often much harder to pray and
study when we feel really ill. But I am thinking of purely
physical illnesses here, the Lord will hold no one responsible
for the onset of a mental confusion which they would not have
expected nor wanted. It is important to point this out because
oftentimes spouses of those suffering from various forms of
senile dementia, make great attempts to get their partners to
continue in their former habit of Prayer/Bible Study and are
inconsolable when this just does not prove possible. But they
should feel no guilt! Do such people really believe that our
gracious Lord is unaware of the situation?? In some way in which
we cannot fully humanly explain, God has allowed for that
situation, is aware of it and if the sufferer was 'in the faith'
before the onset of illness will still be deemed to be 'in the
Let us always remember that - even in the best scenario - our
works will save none of us! Rather, at our conversion, the very
righteousness of Jesus Christ was imputed to us. We all stand
under the grace of Jesus Christ, and could not stand for one
moment without it!! In our disappointment and frustration at
seeing those we love descend into an illness which makes
concentration on the Christian life almost impossible, we should
remind ourselves of this fact.
3. All of our bodies are in a gradually 'running down'
An important Scripture to consider here is 1 Corinthians 15:
42-44. Paul says this;
"So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in
corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor,
it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in
power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body"
Paul adds more in Romans 8;
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not
worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in
us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for
the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected
to to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected
it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered
from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the
children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and
labors (a reference to earthquakes, volcanoes & extreme
weather? - my insert) with birth pangs together until now. And
not only they, but we also who have the firstfruits of the
Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting
for the adoption, the redemption of our body"
(Romans 8: 18-23)
Like the universe, our bodies gradually 'run down'. This is
something which God has simply allowed in our present state
because of the decision made in the Garden of Eden. We pass -
down here - through a 'vail of tears'. There is no doubt that one
of the reasons that God allows this is for us to learn that
physical life cannot finally satisfy. Our physical lives seem to
be spent searching for what will truly satisfy, but we never seem
to quite find it. We seem to constantly reach out for that
fullness of joy, but even as we do so, it disappears around the
corner. Sure, our lives may contain periods of happiness, yet the
full joy we yearn for always eludes us. In fact, God wants us to
yearn for that fulness of joy, because He knows that we will
eventually learn that it is not be found on this earth while we
are in our present physical 'corrupt' bodies.
There are a group of Christians out there who believe that we can
have radiance of joy and health and prosperity right now, but
they seriously misunderstand the message of the gospel. Quite an
important part of that is learning to give up all self-confidence
and to replace that with total confidence in our Saviour Jesus
Christ. We need to be taking up our crosses and bearing them
daily, not looking for a soft and comfortable life! Paul said
"For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to
believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake"
(Philippians 1: 29)
We should not be surprised when troubles and afflictions come
upon us, rather, we should remind ourselves that this was the lot
of all the righteous people of the Bible!
It is indeed tragic when we see elderly people descend into
mental confusion, especially where they might have been absolute
stalwarts in the faith, but let us all take hope and courage that
any such circumstances will not cut them off from the love and
grace of God. Let me close by reminding us of these great words
from Romans 8;
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or
nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written; 'For Your sake
we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the
slaughter' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death
nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things
present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other
created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"
(Romans 8: 35- 39)
Robin A. Brace
I thank Heidi Campbell for suggesting that we use this lovely
poem on the subject of alzeimer's disease. The poem is written by
Jeanette Smith and appears on EDEN REFLECTIONS.Please read this
fine poem before leaving;
(An alzeimers story)
Do not dwell on what you see,
This is not the real me.
Remember back to other days,
Before this illness, changed my ways.
My love for you will never change,
My life has just been rearranged.
In my heart you'll always be,
A very special part of me.
This I want you all to know,
If I cannot tell you so,
Through this time we are estranged,
And our lives, have been changed.
God is with us through it all,
To give us strength each time we fall.
And when I leave, it's not the end,
I'll be made whole in Heaven again.
I'll wait there on the other side,
Where we forever will abide.
Once again I'll recognize,
The faces that I idolize.
Where heartache, grief, and tears will end,
We'll be together once again.
Jeannette E. Smith
April 9, 2002
COUNTERCULT AND APOLOGETICS UK
TO THE WORD