Why do you keep stressing the need for endurance? (Part 3)


In the first two parts of this three-part series, we looked at why it is vital to stay with “our calling” and the “Way of Life” to which we have been called.   Nothing less will do.  To repeat the key Scripture in this review, once again, it is in Matthew 24:13: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”

But what about those who have succumbed to the dreadful disease of dementia?     We will now address the dementia question for those Church members and their families who are affected.

We quote briefly below from the following sources to show what a traumatic time this can be for those families who have to deal with this problem.

The Biblical Counselling Coalition gives this description of dementia: “In brief, dementia is a cognitive disorder. The affected person’s thinking ability gradually deteriorates. It interferes with judgment and memory and also can create confusion, fear, and irritation. There are several types of dementia. The best known is Alzheimer’s, which was experienced by former president, Ronald Reagan.”

According to the website verywellmind.com, there are seven stages of dementia from “no cognitive decline” to “very severe cognitive decline.”

“Stages 1 to 3 are the pre-dementia stages; whereas Stages 4 to 7 are the dementia stages. Clinicians typically compare the person’s symptoms to the criteria listed for each stage and use their judgment to determine which stage the patient is at.  

“In the final stage, the brain appears to lose its connection to the body and becomes incapable of telling it what to do. The person is likely to progressively lose their motor skills as well as the ability to speak. They may only be able to utter unintelligible sounds or words, if at all. They will need assistance with all personal care tasks such as eating, walking, and using the bathroom.”

The Alzheimer’s Society has this to say on their website:

“The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that over time can affect memory, problem-solving, language and behaviour. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia.

“People with dementia often experience memory loss. This is because dementia is caused by damage to the brain, and this damage can affect areas of the brain involved in creating and retrieving memories.

“For a person with dementia, memory problems will become more persistent and will begin to affect everyday life. This can be difficult to cope with, both for the person themselves and for the people around them.”

John Dunlop, a medical doctor, wrote the following about dementia: “Dementia can inflict its victims with memory loss and render them unable to care for themselves. It can cause them to wake up every morning not knowing where they are or who is feeding or bathing them. People with dementia often want to say something but are unable to organize their thoughts or even form the words.”

Many of us may have come into contact with those who are struggling with this alarming, distressing and grievous health problem.  It is a very fair question to ask what happens when a Church member develops these symptoms.   Does this affect their salvation in any way when they can no longer remember their calling and commitment to God’s Way of Life that will result in them being in the Family of God for eternity if they endure to the end?

An obvious but important point to make is that God is fair, unlike our adversary, Satan the devil. 2 Peter 3:9 is instructive: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Also, in 1 Timothy 2:4, we read that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

God does not want anyone to fail, but God would like to see that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. However, He knows that some will be rebellious and turn down the opportunity.  Those refusing God’s offer will be thrown into the lake of fire, as Revelation 21:8 confirms: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Further proof of God’s mercy that He will give everyone an opportunity for salvation is in the message of the Last Great Day, which directly follows the Feast of Tabernacles.   On our website is our Statement of Beliefs where we read under the “Observation of God’s Commanded Holy Days” the following information:

“The Last Great Day which immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles, once a year. This day symbolizes a 100-year period called the “Great White Throne Judgment,” during which all persons who have ever lived and who were never called by God for salvation during this life, will have their first opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior (Leviticus 23:36; John 7:37; Revelation 20:11-12). At the end of that period, there will be a judgment during which all people who have ever lived and who have refused to accept Christ as their Savior, will be finally condemned to eternal death and destroyed in Gehenna fire (Revelation 20:13-15).”

This shows God’s great compassion for human beings – would He be any less compassionate for those who were faithful until the time of their reason and brain functionality was taken away?   Of course, the answer must be no as He is supremely fair to all.

In the first part of this Q&A, we mentioned 2 Timothy 4:7-8 where Paul said that he had finished the race – he had endured to the end of his life and his life’s work.  It is worth repeating here to make a further point.   The passage reads:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

It is very well worth noting that Paul was still alive when he said this!  Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers observes that “the tense of the Greek verb—the perfect—’I have fought,’ is remarkable. The struggle had been bravely sustained in the past, and was now being equally bravely sustained to the end. His claim to the crown (2 Timothy 4:8) was established.”

Those faithful Church members with dementia will have run their race until they were prevented from continuing to do so.   When is the end of the race?   For those with dementia, it may be at the stage where they no longer remember their “calling” and “Way of Life,” when their personal mental control and memory ceases to function.

God does not want anyone to fail.

In the final analysis, God determines the outcomes in such cases as He knows the hearts of all people.

There is the story of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, when he lost his mind [compare Daniel 4:16, saying that his heart of man would be replaced with the heart of an animal] – but regained his mind after seven years through a miracle from God.   However, there is no indication that this was anything other than punishment from God for His arrogance. 

Today, dementia sufferers don’t recover and regain all the faculties that they lost. The website of bigthink.com states that “Dementia involves the loss of memory, cognition, and speech. It’s caused by changes in the brain due to injury or disease, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and it’s progressive, meaning the symptoms get more severe over time.” 

In Philippians 1:6, Paul writes: “… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Barnes Notes on the Bible explains: “Will perform it – Margin, ‘Or, finish.’ The Greek word – ἐπιτελέσει epitelesei – means that he would carry it forward to completion; he would perfect it. It is an intensive form of the word, meaning that it would be carried through to the end.”

God will have begun a good work in the lives of those called by Him who have faithfully lived the true Christian Way of Life, and not even such a crippling disease as dementia will change that reality.

Further encouraging words can be read in 1 Corinthians 1:6-9:

“… even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We read on the website ncbi.nlm.nih.gov the following information about a sickness, which affects so many in the world and some few in the true Church of God:

“Dementia is a progressive condition which affects over 55 million people worldwide, with nearly 10 million new cases every year.  The term ‘dementia’ indicates not a single disease, but rather a spectrum of different conditions with different clinical phenotypes, which can be caused by a multitude of pathologies that cause changes in the structure and chemistry of the brain. While the most common cause of dementia-related symptoms is a neurodegenerative disease, other causes do exist (e.g., chronic inflammatory disease, alcoholism…). The exact pathological cascade of events which causes the development of symptoms is still unknown, but overall it is thought that a combination of genetic and environmental factors results in the abnormal accumulation of misfolded, toxic proteins in the brain, which then triggers both chemical imbalance and neuronal loss in the brain (a process called atrophy), ultimately leading to the hallmark clinical symptoms that eventually impair the daily functioning of affected individuals.” 

When someone has given themselves faithfully to the true Way of God from the time of their calling and a disease such as dementia removes understanding and recognition of previous learning later in life, Scripture reveals that God will honour that person.

And 1 Corinthians 9:25 reveals that it is “for an imperishable crown.”   It is great news for those who suffer from dementia and for all of God’s faithful people!

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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