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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

28 September 2008

Losing Salvation: An Upsetting Vision

Q: A while ago I prayed and felt very connected to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I was becoming a Christian. Then I felt I wanted my old life back. I didn’t want to live as a Christian; I wanted to keep my old life and to have God on the side, praying only when I needed too. Then my body shook and I shivered. It felt like the Spirit left me. In my head I saw how a body was pulled out from me and carried to the dump where many other bodies lay. I don’t know if it was my imagination; this happened when I had a psychosis. Have I blasphemed the Holy Spirit? I really wish I will be forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit. I’m afraid that God won’t take me in again and am afraid of going to hell. Please help!

A: First of all, dear friend, if you were praying in faith, you weren’t “becoming a Christian,” you were one. However, our selfish, sinful nature — our “Old Adam” (cf. Romans 5:12) — continually rebels against the Lord. Each of us desires to have things our own way, “cutting God down to size,” and using Him as a last resort, when all our own efforts fail. If we were damned without possibility of salvation for ever saying or thinking “my will be done” instead of “Thy will be done,” none of us would see eternal life.

The Great PhysicianThose who fear losing their salvation usually have less to worry about than do those who assume that they’re constantly right with God. We find a parallel to this in Luke: “Jesus answered [the Pharisees and scribes], ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. (5:31-32)” Those who are “well” often only think that they are well — many times, they believe that they are “self-healing” or incapable of serious spiritual illness.

Just as a fever testifies to physical illness, your guilty feelings reveal a sinful condition. However, the Great Physician brings healing even before you “call for a doctor.” Trust that the forgiveness He won on the cross for all mankind is yours for your rebellions, your doubts, and your fears.

As for your vision, I won’t presume to interpret it beyond your own thinking. Whether from God, from Satan, or from yourself, you received a graphic warning of the dangers of trying to live apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether or not it stemmed from a psychotic episode, rest assured that you’ve not been cast aside. Continue to seek peace and healing in the hands of your loving God.

For more on salvation, see these earlier posts, Losing Your Salvation and Losing Salvation and Eternal Guarantee. Also, if you still have concerns about psychosis and the like, you’ll probably benefit by reading Mental Health Help and the posts to which the article links.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Column #557:1


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