Published February 21, 2012

Paul's Epistle...

Recently, for whatever reason, I have heard from several individuals who doubt their salvation. It's come up in discussion with other Christians, too. Because it's a too-common and very basic question, I'd like to provide, below, a column I wrote several years ago on the matter. It was one of the most-requested columns I've written. Let me know if it's helpful.

Do you have days when you just don't "feel saved?"

I received this e-mail from a listener: "Hey, Paul, I listen all the time and I asked God to save me on August 6th, 1999. But there is still doubt in my mind. Please help me settle this doubt that I have."

Unfortunately, too many Christians have the same type of lingering doubts about their salvation. So this question is one of the most fundamental that can be asked.

Note that this person actually remembers the exact date of his conversion experience. That's a good sign. Too many people don't remember the specifics. (The actual date is not so important as the circumstances of the experience. I have to look up my conversion date, but I'll never forget the circumstances.) Remember, no one is born a Christian. Some people think they're automatically Christians because their parents were Christians, or because they were around a lot of Christians, or went to church regularly. Wrong. As I've probably said before, becoming a Christian does not involve some sort of "holy osmosis." It happens at a specific time as the result of specific actions on the sinner's part, accepting God's offer of salvation to those who truly believe.

For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume you have had a genuine conversion experience. Now - what about those doubts?

The devil loves playing "mind games" with people. And one of his favorites is to try to place doubts in the minds of Christians about their salvation. The devil is a liar (John 8:44), and this is one of his favorite lies. Satan is simply out to ruin the joy that you should be experiencing as a Christian. How do you cope with this? The Bible tells us to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7b.)

How do you do that? The first part of that same verse has the answer: "Submit yourselves therefore to God." And the next verse makes it even more clear: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts..." The closer we get to God, the better we know Him. And the better we know Him, the more confident and bold we can become in the certainty of our salvation.

Here's the bottom line: If you have confessed your sins to the Lord and asked Him to forgive you and invited Him into your heart to be your Savior, fulfilling the requirements of Scripture, then you are saved! You are a Christian! You simply must accept that this is something that is settled, once and for all. (See Romans 8:38,39.)

Remember, "...if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9.)

What does Jesus say about doubt? To Peter as he began to sink beneath the waves, Jesus said, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:31.) In Matthew 21:21, Jesus said that "If you have faith and do not doubt..." you can do great things. What is He saying? Faith casts out doubt. True faith leaves no room for doubt.

To put it simply, doubts are of the devil. Certainty is of the Lord.

The "sinner's prayer" on our website's "Free Gift" page addresses this: "Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I believe that you died on the cross to pay the penalty of all my sins, and then arose from the grave so that I, by faith, could live eternally. I thank you for doing this, and I now receive you as my Savior and Lord. Come into my heart to cleanse me of all my sins and to grant me, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the assurance of salvation. Help me to faithfully live according to your Word all the days of my life. Amen."

The "assurance of salvation" is what you're seeking. Pray for it earnestly. Accept it. You'll have it. Remember 1st John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Surely you have had acquaintances who have, in some way great or small, left you down. God is not like that. He is "faithful" to do exactly what He has promised He would do.

When does "believing" become "knowing?"

Talk with any long-time Christian who has been active in their faith and they will tell you of ways God has made His presence known to them. Romans 8:16 reminds us that "the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." This happens in many ways. The other day I was driving to the store, listening to the radio in the car, and happened to hear a testimony of a recent conversion experience. Something happened. My eyes watered and suddenly a spirit of praise came over me. The Spirit was bearing witness. Yesterday, Shelia and I were viewing a video presentation about our home Lancaster County. A simple passing reference in it to the local religious community's beliefs included the promise of the Lord's soon return. That just jumped out at me "from nowhere" and got me excited, as it always does. The Spirit was bearing witness. And then there are the examples that any long-time Christian can give you about answered prayer.

Do you believe God's Word? If you truly do, and have accepted God's terms for Salvation, then you are saved! You can't say you believe God and still have doubts about Salvation. If you believe God, then you believe what He says He will do. Look at 1st John 5:10-13: "He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar; because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Now here's the key in the next verse: "These things have I written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."

Did you see that? God gave us His Word so that "you may know that you have eternal life." It doesn't say He did it so we can "wish for" eternal life or "probably have" eternal life. It says He did it so you can "know" that you have eternal life.

That's a key, too, to removing your doubts. If God gave us His Word so that we may know we have eternal life, that presupposes that we know the Word. Read the Bible! Study God's Word! Thomas doubted, and it took a personal appearance from Jesus to remove his doubts. We have the Word in printed form. Every time we read it, God is there talking to us. Read it!

And, of course, pray! That's another key to doubt abatement. You get to know someone by communicating with them. That's what prayer is all about! God already knows you. He wants you to know Him better. And the better you know Him, the more you will trust Him. And those doubts of yours will disappear.

Then you can say with the old preacher, "I know that I know that I know that I know that I've been saved!"

- Paul

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