Hello Bro Jim, I now have had 2 guys that have come to me for spiritual help that ended up so depressed that they required meds for depression … The one believed in Lordship salvation for years and the other believed that you could lose your salvation. They both came to me for help asking how they can gain assurance of salvation. Either the problem is in me and what I am saying or it is them. Their problems after my counseling them became identical and that is what has me concerned and that is what I need to talk to you about. The way I counsel people like them is to get them to not see their works, their faith, their feelings but only the truth of God’s word. I have to tell them that Christ accomplished the work so there are no steps that are required to be saved … I will tell them that God has already been reconciled to them. How God is no longer imputing our sins to our account. I try various illustrations that explain the completeness of His work … I tie that into how we are in this world today. God has done it all and that is all one needs to realize … Now the problem happened when these 2 guys I counseled tried focusing on what Scripture says instead of their feelings, sight and so on. Their conscience seems to be hammering them even harder. They come to me and tell me that they feel so depressed and agitated. One guy said he felt like killing himself and that bothered me. One other guy had to go for some extensive psychological treatment. I am now wondering whether I am the cause of this. I believe I am lifting up Christ and these guys fall further into the mire. I tried explaining to the one guy this morning that the carnal mind is at enmity with God … I stressed the need to confess God’s truth regardless of what their feelings were telling them … Do you have any suggestions? Am I counseling these guys wrong? How would you counsel people such people? Thank you, Dave
Hello, my friend, Dave! :)
First, realize that sometimes people who come to you (even in pairs) may simply be those who are ready to take a nosedive, so don’t assume this situation is about what or how you have counseled them. It may have nothing whatever to do with you.
According to your description of your typical counseling approach, I do hear many good points and illustrations (I especially like your comments on faith), but the whole thing sounds a little too formulaic to me. It comes across as if you are trying too hard. You said they came to you to gain assurance of salvation. I understand what that means to you, but what does it actually mean to them? Considering everything you have discussed with these two guys, what one main concern—other than the obviously stated desire for assurance—do you hear from each?
For example, when the rich man came to Jesus with his obvious question, what one thing did Jesus hear behind the words that formed the devastating question he left him with? Now, I know you don’t want to send these guys walking away disheartened, but it may even be possible that they have built their confidence in the flesh so strongly that you have shaken them beyond their ability to deal with it. If so, they were probably ripe for a meltdown. :) What I’m suggesting is that you not be afraid of letting them become shocked at that which they have put their confidence. Don’t worry about trying to make it sensible with another sure-fire illustration, rather listen for that which is being shaken within them. And then respond to what you hear, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.
These 2 guys keep coming back saying, “My thoughts have grown worse. They are nagging me all day long. I “try” to think God’s thoughts, but my other thoughts overwhelm those right out of my head.” Dave
They are telling you something here. Do you hear it? After all, why would their thoughts be growing worse? What do you suppose they consider it to mean to “think God’s thoughts”? And then how would that only lead to frustration and competition between their other thoughts? Listen to the real desperation behind their confusion. It’s all about the difference between the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of man.