CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
Doubting Your Salvation
By John Ruiz-Bueno
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Continued from Page One
That doesn't mean that we're to give up our dreams and go into full-time ministry. It simply changes the way we approach our life ambitions and why we're pursuing them. As Brother Lawrence said in Practice the Presence of God: "Our sanctification did not depend upon changing our works. Instead, it depended on doing that for God's sake which we commonly do for our own."
Initially I took this to mean: "Okay, so I'll make a lot of money so I can give it all to missionaries and the church," but this was still me trying to take control of my life. I was really thinking, "I need to have enough to provide for myself — even in some minimal way — then I'll trust God with all of the excess." I was still saying that I would maintain control of my life and God would get whatever bubbled over my bare necessities. God told me: "No, I want everything...and then you can trust me to meet your bare necessities." This was part of what led to a genuine heart transformation in my early walk.
FOURTH — "What if I've never felt secure in my faith?"
Assurance of Salvation is a concept that is often greatly misunderstood. A person can be genuinely saved without having any assurance. Likewise, a person can feel self-assured, but not be genuinely saved (as was my case for a long time, though I now have 100% confidence in the Lord on the issue of my salvation). Here is the over-simplified version of how assurance of salvation works in Scripture.
1. Repentance is a heart-issue (Acts 8:22), just as salvation is a heart-issue (Romans 2:29).
2. "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). We can't know what happens at a heart level.
3. Because we can't know what happens at a heart level, Jesus gave us a physical test to determine if someone is genuine: "By their fruit you will recognize them" (Matthew 7:16, 20).
4. This is not a reference to the fruit of the Spirit, as Paul hadn't written Galatians yet; nor is it a reference to general good works, as this isn't found in the context of the passage or Jesus' other teachings on fruit, and also because "good works" are too easy to fabricate toward self-delusion, as with the people in the very next passage after Matthew 7:20. Jesus was clearly not advocating a works-based false assurance or some kind of psychic reading of a person's heart.
5. The fruit, by context of the passages before and after, relates to leading someone along the narrow road. In essence, evangelism and discipleship are the fruit (see also every parable where Jesus talks about plants and producing fruit for further verification).
6. Jesus clarifies this in the form of the great commission: "make disciples...baptize...teach them to obey." This is your fruit.
To be clear, evangelism and discipleship are not prerequisites to salvation. Rather, good fruit is the tangible test Jesus gives us to help us ascertain the genuineness of a person's faith — including your own. You can be saved without ever sharing your faith or discipling another believer. But without actively making strides to advance Jesus' Kingdom, you will have no fruit to assure you of the genuineness of your faith.
FIFTH — "No one knows I'm struggling with this"
I hear this a lot. People who doubt their salvation or God Himself are often too ashamed to let other believers know they're dealing with these doubts for fear that they would be shamed or looked down on as being "weak" in their faith. This is another issue I went through. During my junior year of college my mentor lovingly rebuked me for the fact that I had been in Bible studies and small groups with him and many others for 3 years by that point but had never once confessed a sin I was struggling with. That's because I still wanted everyone to think I had all my stuff together.
But then I started seeing Paul talk about how he would boast about his weaknesses! (2 Corinthians 12:9). I thought I was doing this by saying, "I'm not very good at this. I'm going to try to improve." But that was me really deflecting the issue. I had forgotten the Gospel. I forgot that although I had been saved I still needed Jesus because I was still sinning and still rejecting my faith, though I didn't know why.
It is when I began confessing my sins openly to people — and I mean boldly openly: on Facebook, in front of all the students in my ministry, with the guys I was spiritually mentoring, etc. — only then did my heart really soften to a point where God was able to begin the work that he had started a few years before in the salvation process.
As backwards as it is, telling people about how sinful you are and how much God has saved you is the most freeing thing in the world. The first time I had to have the conversation with my mom that I had struggled with pornography and masturbation seemed like the most terrifying experience — and she was appalled. But the only reason to withhold such confession is because you want people to think you don't do the thing you would otherwise confess to.
To that end, Paul says in Galatians 1:10: "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." If you have trouble sharing your struggles and doubts with others, this should be your life verse for the next year or two — and partly because you yourself are one of the "people" you're trying to please. Abandon all dignity so that you have nothing left but God to rest on, and he will surely lift you up. That is a promise (unless, of course, you're doing it to test God and not because you actually believe he will do it, as that would make you the double-minded man described in James 1:8).
Image Credit: fancycrave1; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Sin-Evil
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Published on 8-2-16