Reading: 1 John 5:11-13
Many Christians struggle with doubting their salvation. When we experience this, it’s important to know we’re not alone. Others before us have experienced the same thing. The feeling we get when we’re in doubt can be gut-wrenching because the possibility of not living in Heaven, and being condemned to Hell is a valid concern.
These occurrences can happen in phases, where we are confident in our salvation for years, but for some reason, we go through days, weeks, or even months, wrestling with ‘what ifs.’ Maybe it’s not us. It may be a friend or family member who is fighting this battle. How does one get through it unscathed?
As much as we would want to hear comforting words and feel immediate relief – gaining back the assurance for which we are longing – it’s necessary to determine from where this uncertainty originates. Is it God or the devil?
But why, one might ask, would God cause doubt? It could very well be it’s not doubt that we’re feeling, but conviction. There are many faithful churchgoers who eventually realize or admit they never called on the name of the Lord for salvation. In the last study session, you were asked to call your salvation experience to memory.
Some Christians are saved at a very early age and may not remember everything about the experience. We may not know what day or where we were, but the memory of knowing that we needed God and that we acted on that by praying to Him should be there.
If we cannot recall ever asking God to save us, then this may be Him trying to get our attention.
For those of us who do have that recollection, we need to ask ourselves what exactly we’re questioning. Are we distrusting ourselves or doubting God?
We could be grilling ourselves, trying to decide if we said the right thing when we prayed for salvation, but the Bible doesn’t give us specific words to say. Sure, we could articulate it just right, but God doesn’t care about an extravagant presentation. We can’t do it in a way that will make Him accept us any more than He would if we only said, “Save me, Lord.” God cares about what’s in our heart.
Romans 10:9-10 tells us when the heart believes, the mouth will do what needs to be done. Throughout the Bible, there are many accounts of people being saved, and they didn’t all say the same thing.
In Acts 16:30, we read that the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas what he needed to do to be saved, demonstrating a willingness to give his life over to God.
In Luke 23:41-42, we read one of the thieves on the cross being crucified with Jesus understood his punishment was justified, and simply asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus entered His kingdom.
In Acts 8:29-39, the Ethiopian eunuch simply stated he believed that Jesus was the Son of God and then, wanted to be baptized right away.
We might also suspect we’ve lived too horrible a life as a sinner for God to accept us. In addition to the scripture of the thief already used above, the Bible tells us that when Jesus walked on earth, He ate with sinners.
In Acts 9:1-22, we read about the conversion of Saul, who hunted, persecuted, and killed Christians. Once he turned his life over to God, he was used to minister to thousands of people. God can use us, too, no matter our past, as long as our current actions reflect a genuine change.
We don’t have to worry too much about how we said our salvation prayer or if we are or were good enough. We just need to be sure that our heart was in the right place. After that, it’s in God’s hands to fulfill His promises, and Hebrews 10:23 tells us He is faithful in keeping His promises.
Consider a time you’ve doubted your salvation. What scripture got you through? Why?
Think about someone you know who may be suffering through this uncertainty. Take a few minutes to say a special prayer for that person. If that person is you, re-read through the scriptures in the study session carefully, and pray that God reveals what you need to know and do.
Read John 3:36. Do you believe it? If so, what does this verse say about that?