Has there ever been a time when you doubted your salvation? Have you ever wondered if you said the right words or if you were sincere in your prayer?
I asked the Lord to come into my heart at the age of fifteen in the fall of 1975. My family had been attending church for about four months, and the Holy Spirit had been convicting me of my sin. During an invitation prayer, I prayed to receive the Lord as my Saviour. I was baptized and began growing in my faith. At the age of sixteen I read through my Bible for the first time. A year later an evangelist visited our church who said, “If you don’t know the date of your salvation, you’re probably not saved.” That made me think, “What was the date of my salvation?” I had no clue—I could only remember that it was in the Fall.
For the first time, I began to doubt my salvation. I began to wonder, am I really saved? Will Jesus say to me, “I never knew you!”? It really bothered me—deeply. I remember getting on my knees by my bed and praying, “Lord, I love you. I believe Jesus died for me and rose again. If I’m not saved, I trust in you right now. I believe in Jesus Christ. Please give me assurance of my salvation and peace in my heart.” Do you know what? He did. I didn’t write that date down either, but I know that I’m saved.
In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says, examine yourselves—test yourselves—to make sure that your faith is real. Don’t just pretend that you are a Christian; make sure you really are on the road to Heaven!” There are only two kinds of people in the world—saved and lost; believers and unbelievers.
In Matthew seven, Jesus said those on the narrow road are headed to Heaven; and those on the broad road are headed for Hell. He couldn’t be any clearer! You were not born a Christian. Getting baptized does not make you a Christian. You become a Christian by calling on the Lord, in faith for your salvation.
Sadly, many churches deny the Bible’s teaching on assurance of salvation. They claim that if you say you are going to Heaven with confidence, then you are prideful or presumptuous. Nothing could be further from the truth. In First John 5 God says, I am giving you MY PROMISE that ye—you—MAY KNOW that you have eternal life.
What if I doubt my salvation—does that mean I’m not saved? The answer is no. Doubt can show up as fear, anxiety, and worry. How many of us have been on a plane, and for whatever reason, we had some worry that the plane was not going to make it safely to its landing? Years ago two young couples from our church were flying back from vacation and their plane was hit by lightning. They made it back safely, and their worry or fear did not jeopardize the integrity of the plane or the skill of the pilot. All those passengers were safe, even though the storm and the turbulence made them feel unsafe.
So why do Christians wonder if they are really saved? Here are some reasons:
- They are not genuinely saved.
If you are not truly born again, that will make you doubt your salvation—because you don’t have it.
- Lack of Bible knowledge/false teaching
This one hit me. I was given wrong information: “You have to know the date of your salvation to be saved.” That’s not true. There are some religious teachers who believe that you can lose your salvation. But Ephesians 4:30 promises that we “are sealed unto the day of redemption [the return of Christ].”
- A strained relationship with your parents
Our first impression of God the Father is from our earthly fathers. Some of you have great impressions of God the Father from your dads, but some of you project a false view on God that you picked up at home. It is easy to confuse conditional love from your earthly parents with your unconditional love from your Heavenly Father.
As a Christian, sin breaks my fellowship and sweet communion with God. If I don’t practice 1 John 1:9 and regularly confess my sin to God, then I will feel distant from the Lord and begin to doubt my salvation.
- Memory—”I was so young I can’t remember it.”
- An overly sensitive conscience
An overly sensitive conscience can result from several things: being an insecure person, reading the wrong materials, a lack of faith to fully accept and embrace God’s forgiveness.
The key to being spiritually healthy and rejoicing in Christ is to know the truth about God and yourself.
- Truth—God loves you and Christ died for you.
- Truth—God will save you when you trust Christ alone.
- Truth—you cannot lose your salvation.
- Truth—You don’t deserve to be saved, but you sure can live with peace, confidence, assurance, and joy every day.
God wants us to live with peace and assurance, yet we live in a world that has so many voices that tell us to doubt and deny Christ.
What’s the truth about doubt?
For some Christians, having doubt creates a crisis for them. They begin to wonder if they can truly be a Christian with the doubts they are feeling. As a result, some Christians are afraid to express their doubts.
- Don’t confuse faith with feelings.
Some people mistakenly think that faith means a continuous religious high. When that religious high or feeling wears off, and it will, these people begin to doubt that their faith is real. They begin to think, “Maybe I don’t have faith, because my feeling of euphoria is gone.” As we deal with doubts, don’t confuse faith with feelings.
- It’s okay to ask honest questions.
Some people think we should never ask questions about our faith, but that is wrong. Jesus did not rebuke John the Baptist as he expressed his doubts and questions in Matthew 11:1–11. John had sincere questions, and Jesus answered those doubts by telling John’s disciples to return and tell him about all the miracles they had seen which verified that Jesus was the Messiah.
- Sometimes doubt is intellectual.
John may have needed simple reassurance over the puzzling questions he had. Why isn’t Jesus overthrowing the Roman government?
- Sometimes doubt is emotional.
Perhaps John wanted to know the answer to a few “why” questions? John may have been thinking, “I was the forerunner and yet I have been arrested for my faith?” If you’ve had plaguing doubts, I recommend two books to you by Lee Strobel: The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith.
- Doubt is not the problem, but unbelief.
There is a difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt is can’t believe; unbelief is won’t believe. Doubt is honesty; unbelief is obstinacy. Doubt is looking for light; unbelief is content with darkness.
While some people have legitimate doubts, others hide behind their doubts while trying to poke holes in Christianity because they don’t want it to be true. Their “doubts” are not honest. The reason they doubt is that IF they discover Christianity is true, their immoral, and selfish lifestyle would have to change.
Jesus is not the least bit afraid of honest doubters. I see Jesus coming to honest doubters like Thomas, and John the Baptist and answering their questions. Christianity is not so fragile that it can’t stand up to a few questions. Questions cannot poke real holes in something that is true.
Second Corinthians 13:5 challenges every Christian to prove himself. What’s the proof?
Here are four evidences of genuine faith that should be in the life of a Christian:
- Do I have a desire…to confess my sin?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3. People in the kingdom of Heaven are poor in spirit. That means we have a sense of our own spiritual bankruptcy and spiritual poverty.
- Do I have a desire for righteousness?
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled” Matthew 5:6. Genuine Christians desire to be like their Lord and Master who is holy.
- Do I have a desire to obey God?
“If ye love me keep my commandments” John 14:15.
Is there a compelling desire in your heart to submit to divine authority?
- Do I have a desire to love other Christians?
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”—John 13:35
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.—1 John 5:13
To watch the entire message, “Is your Faith Real?” which includes 10 tests of salvation from 1 John, go to www.thecaringchurch.com/media/services/sunday-morning/. Choose January 24, 2016.