For some time now I have fought an internal battle against a horrifying thought. A thought that can wreck my entire day if I let my mind run free with it. A thought that I suspect plagues many believers. It’s a simple yet important question: How do I know that I’m really saved?
For as long as I can remember, I have been in church. And more than just attending, my family was always very active in our church. My mom always made sure we were a part of every Sunday school, midweek service, Royal Rangers (it’s basically like Boy Scouts, but not nearly as impressive on a college application), VBS, etc. If there was something going on at church, we were there. I attended youth conferences, I went to camp, I did all of the things that the good Christian kids did. There were several times throughout my childhood where I responded to a call to salvation, and several more during my teenage years where I came to the altar to rededicate my life to Christ. My desire was always to be a follower of Christ. All of those times I made my way up to the altar, it wasn’t because it “didn’t stick” the time before, it was because at the time, I didn’t fully understand the Gospel, or what that act of responding to the altar call actually meant.
When I moved off to college, my church attendance halted. However, I got married my freshman year, and my wife and I went back to the church I had previously attended. We weren’t there for very long before the roots of my upbringing took hold, and I again found myself deeply involved with the church. After just a couple months of attendance, I began serving in the media ministry, after about a year of that I became more or less the media director. Four years later I looked up and I was involved in nearly every aspect of the operations of the church in one way or another. I loved every second of it. But throughout that time, every now and then, the thought would pop into my head: Am I really saved?
In May of 2018, God called my family and I to join the CHBC family. Pastor Mike rightly recommended that I take some time to rest in God’s Word, enjoy the services with my wife, and to just be a member for a while and experience the side of church that I hadn’t been a part of for so long. It was a much needed time that really helped me change some things in my personal walk, including dealing with the question of my salvation once and for all.
As I reflected on the years I have spent in church and serving in various ministries, I thought back to all of the awesome people I have encountered, all of the awesome works I have seen God do, and all of the absolutely incredible stories of redemption I have heard. It was in this context that the thought of my own salvation started to weigh on me. Drugs, alcohol, depression, promiscuity, and so on—all these horrible things I saw people being delivered from were never themes in my own life. I had a safe, sheltered, and carefree childhood. To make matters worse, I was surrounded by people who could rattle off their “spiritual birthday” with little effort, while I had to think back and quizzically say, “I think it was probably at church camp, maybe during Sunday school? I was 6 or maybe 10?”
Maybe your story sounds a lot like mine, or maybe it couldn’t be more different. But whatever your situation is, if you’re struggling with the thought of your own salvation, the Bible has some powerful assurance to offer.
In Romans 10:9, Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s easy to read this verse and assume that confessing with your mouth refers to that altar call you responded to back in middle-school. That’s certainly where my mind always went.
But when placed alongside Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:32-33, “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven,” it becomes a lot clearer that Paul is not referring to a single prayer said at a specific moment in time, but rather our ongoing declaration of Jesus as the risen Savior.
So maybe you are like me. Maybe this is something you ask yourself often. There is hope and there is an answer! The Gospel is a sweet, simple message. The verses above, and in the familiar passages of The Romans Road, can be summed up this way: Jesus lived, Jesus died for our sins, and Jesus rose again.
Here is our assurance: if you believe that, and you can confidently share that message, the Bible tells us you will be saved!
Paul even goes on to further drive the point home in 1 Corinthians 12:3, saying “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!” And no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.”
This means that the simple act of declaring your faith in Jesus is evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life which can only come through salvation!
In the past year, God has been working on my heart and in my life, dealing with this insecurity at the most fundamental level.
You see, all of those years that I had spent in ministry, all of the theology books I read, all of the great theologians that I could quote--none of that offered me the reassurance that I was seeking because I was missing the one thing that none of that could replace: a close personal relationship with Christ.
It’s a lot like when you have your first kid: You buy all the parenting books, you decorate the nursery just so, you see the ultrasound, but all of that preparation for and knowledge about your baby and how to raise her doesn’t help you develop a close relationship with her. It’s not until you hold her and get to love on her that the connection becomes real and personal. It’s the same with our relationship with Christ. You can know so much about him, you can read all of the theology textbooks you want, you can do “church work” until you’re blue in the face, but until you let Him hold you and love you the way a father does, you will never know that peace that comes from a relationship with him.
If you find yourself asking these hard questions, I encourage you to spend time in the Word and in prayer—the promise of Scripture is that if you seek Him you will find Him.