“To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24).
It would be a terrible thing for children (or adults!) to wonder how they fit in their families. While that is terrible in an earthly family, it is even more unsettling in the spiritual family. Many Christians live with the thought that they are just not sure how God sees them. Is He in a good mood or a judgmental mood? Are they in the family or has their Father decided He has had enough?
What a horrible way to live! How incredibly sad for children of the King to live as beggars! I am surely not being critical. I find it heartbreaking for people whose sin debt has been paid in full to squirm under the uncertainty of whether they belong in the family of God. Let’s look at some basic reasons why people tend to doubt their salvation:
The first reason is because of sin in their lives. Sin brings a feeling of estrangement from God, a feeling of isolation. John warns Christians to take a close inventory of their salvation if they continue to sin and do so merrily, often, and long: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). If sin is the constant bent of our lives, we should worry about our salvation. The non-Christian can sin all day long and not sense any isolation from God; only His children experience a lack of harmony with their Father.
The second reason people doubt their salvation is because of false teaching. This false teaching is primarily in two camps. The first camp includes liberal pastors who do not hold to the view that the entire Bible is the Word of God. They discount certain parts, verses, and authors. False teaching that deletes portions of the Bible certainly leads to doubts of salvation. The other camp includes teachers who strongly believe the Word of God from cover to cover, but overemphasize human performance.
The third reason people doubt their salvation is because of an overemphasis on emotions. There are those who place a lot of importance on “feel good” religion. Now, I am all for joy in the Christian life, but when the entire Christian life is based on emotions rather than doctrine, assurance of salvation is rare. Heartaches will come. Financial setbacks come. Sorrows come. Disappointments come. This is the reality of living in a fallen world. We can’t live on feelings. The Christian life is not always going to feel euphoric.
The fourth reason people doubt their salvation is because of failure to take God at His Word. Sometimes, I meet people and they say, “Well, I used to be saved.” I ask, “How did you get lost?” They name something they’ve done or thought. Then, I remind them what John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). If we take God at His Word – and He is indeed trustworthy – we will not wonder if we were bad enough to lose our salvation (or good enough to keep it, for that matter!). Let me put it another way: if I came up to you and said, “I am very happy you’re reading my book,” and you responded, “Oh, I don’t really believe you mean that!” you would be doubting my sincerity. That is exactly what we do when we doubt what God has promised about our salvation in His Word. We doubt His trustworthiness.
The fifth reason people doubt their salvation is because of satanic attacks. Satan will be happy to whisper, “Look at you. Look how you’re acting. A Christian doesn’t act like that.” Not only will Satan whisper that, but he often uses others as his unsuspecting agents. A mother scolds her child, “A Christian girl wouldn’t behave like that!” What conclusion is the little girl supposed to reach? And the mother can’t understand why her daughter doesn’t have assurance of her salvation.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. We need the Word of God to answer Him. There are two truths God wants us to understand to counter the enemies of assurance.
The first truth God wants us to understand is His will for our salvation. “He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God’s desire is for us to be saved, not for us to be condemned. Peter tell us He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God is standing with open arms, just like the father of the prodigal son, to welcome us into His family.
The second truth God wants us to understand is the provision He has made for our salvation. He gave “His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). “He Himself bore our sins on His own body” (1 Peter 2:24). He paid the price for our salvation. Jesus died in our place, so we could belong to God.
What earthly father would provide everything his child needs, only for the child to wonder, “Are you sure you want me to have it, Daddy?” Of course, that is what he wants. He is grieved his child is so insecure of his love. Your heavenly Father is the same way. He has provided everything you need for salvation and is grieved when you think otherwise.
We still have a responsibility, though. Jesus did not die, rise again, and ascend into heaven to automatically save us. The Bible does not teach universal salvation (that is, all people by virtue of the fact they’re created are Christians). We need to believe in Christ and receive Him as our very own. There must be a personal and definite decision. Jesus said, “Whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life” (John 5:24).
Those who were saved very young often need to reaffirm or make sure of their salvation later in life. This does not insult God. Teens, especially, go through a long process of making sure they are making their own choices and not resting on their parents’ decisions for them. They may need to resettle the issue. Don’t be alarmed. People are different and God deals with us where we are.
One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, “How can I know I’m saved?” That is the dilemma of many people. Maybe you are wondering about your salvation. You have prayed, you have read the Scripture, you have done everything you know to do, but you still don’t have any assurance of your salvation. John wrote his epistle so his audience could know without a doubt they were part of God’s family. You can know as well. Tell God you are ready to settle this issue once and for all. Tell Him you are taking Him at His Word. Salvation is not a feeling; it is a fact based on the finished work of Christ at Calvary.
Read more here: Back to the Basics: A Guide for Christian Living.