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Doubts on Salvation

In the following e-mail exchanges, the e-mailers' comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


>Subject: Help. I have a question. I believe I was saved but am having doubts.

Hi,

I believe I was saved as a child. I believed by hearing the gospel message, and then put my full faith and trust in Jesus to become my Lord and Savior (approx. age 7). Now as an adult I am having doubt. It is very specific. I have no doubt that I trusted Jesus with full faith from my heart, but I am not certain that I really came thinking of myself as a "sinner" when I trusted. Does this make sense (I was seven)? Please help me with this.

I knew I needed Jesus to save me and prayed the sinner's prayer with my pastor with faith in Jesus, but I really did not conceive of myself as particularly sinful -- and I remember feeling awkward about the "sinner" part of the prayer, but I prayed in agreement. So now I feel torn, do I need to re-confess? Or is this all just silly doubt?

Since I was saved I have always been interested in the things of God. I read my Bible, pray, go to church, teach Bible Study, and even frequently witness to others. However, this doubt is strong. Help!

Manford
6/13/03<

It is very common for people who made confessions as a child to have doubts later on. The simple faith of a child can be saving faith, but most often it is not based on much knowledge or experience. In your case, as a child you probably would not have had much of a sense of sin. But now, being older, you, as with all of us, have unfortunately had more personal experience with sin. So it is understandable that you now are struggling.

Given such a situation, it is also common for people who made a confession as children to "re-commit" their lives to Christ. This would not be a denial that you really were saved as a child but that you now realize you need to strengthen that commitment with your now greater knowledge of the faith and of yourself. It would be similar to a married couple re-stating their vows. They're already married, but they are saying that if they had to do it over again, they would.

I hope that helps.

God bless,
Gary Z.

>Subject: Re: Help. I have a question. I believe I was saved but am having doubts.

Thank you very much. Your reply helped me and is a blessing.

Manford
6/17/03<


>Hello, I would like to ask you for an advice. My biggest doubt about whether I am saved is whether I fulfilled the condition of faith. In Eph 2:8,9 and Romans 3:24 I find words as for free, as a gift, by grace, God's gift. To me, that means that a person can be saved without him having e.g. good motives or despite his self-centeredness or lack of desire for sanctification. He just has to ask God to justify him because of Jesus.<

It is true that salvation is a free gift. But the motive for asking for salvation is that you have recognized that you are a sinner who needs forgiveness. As for self-centeredness and a lack of desire for sanctification, if you are truly repentant for your sins, and if you truly are asking for forgiveness and salvation, then God will forgive and save you. Then, as a result of being saved, He will gradually change you. This will include over time working on your self-centeredness and giving you the desire for sanctification. But it will take time. It won't be an overnight process.

> I think that I understand this right, but I am not 100% sure. In Eph 2:8 it says that we are saved trough faith. In Hebrews 11:1 it says that "faith is ... the conviction of the things not seen". In my opinion, to have a conviction means to be completely, 100% sure at that moment. Therefore, I wouldn't say that I have a conviction that salvation is free.

The doubt is small. I think that salvation is free, I am just not completely sure. The doubt has a form of "What if I understood the Scriptures wrong?"<

The question is, what does your doubt entail? If you are still thinking that God will accept you based on your good works, then that is a problem. A part of recognizing that you are a sinner is to recognize that you cannot earn God's forgiveness. Again, you need to accept His gift of forgiveness and salvation.

> Since I don't have the conviction about salvation being free, does that mean that I don't have faith in Christ? (which would mean that I am not saved then)<

You need to have faith that Christ is able to save you fully. If you feel you need to add to what He has done for you, then you are not truly trusting in His sacrifice on your behalf. Whether you are saved or not, I will not venture to say. I leave such decisions in the hands of the only One capable of making them.

> Looking forward to your answer,
Rasto
4/20/2001<

You appear to at least have a desire for salvation. But you need to ask yourself why? Is it just a fear of going to hell, or are you genuinely repentant for you sins? The former is a start, but you also need to recognize why a person goes to hell. It is because they have not accepted that they are sinners standing condemned before a perfectly holy God.

I would suggest you consider the issue of sin. That should clear up some of your doubts. reading (or re-reading) the Book of Romans would also help, along with maybe Galatians.


>I write this to you with all respect from one Christian to another. I am also a practicing roman catholic. Out of my love and devotion to Christ, I revere Mary, of whom gave birth to him and was chosen by our Lord. Chosen by our Lord and we were told by Christ that she was our mother before he died for us.<

I don't remember Jesus ever saying this. If you're referring to Jesus' statement from the cross to John, He was simply being sure his aged mother would be taken care of after His death. Nothing more.

> I do believe that this distinction makes her more important than the rest of us. I am not sinless, I am full of sin, but through Christ I am forgiven when I confess my sins to him. Christ is my savior and lives within my heart. But, I am not saved for eternity, until I have been judged by him of which cannot happen until I die. I do not understand the saved issue, or the sinless believer that you speak of on your site. I believe my faith and life are a journey with the Lord and a path to salvation. Salvation is not determined until judgment. Will you please clarify your belief for me. I would like to understand it.

Thank you and God Bless,
Patsy
4/30/2001<

You believe you're forgiven, but you don't believe you're saved. I don't want to debate semantics, as that's all it may be. But it could be that you're not sure if Christ will really accept you or not when you die. But the question is, if you are forgiven, then what would separate you from Christ? (see Rom 8:31-39). Do you still feel you need to add something to what He has done for you to be saved?

To me, Christ has done all that is necessary for my salvation. I add nothing to it, nor can I ever add to it. He has saved me by His grace, and on that basis I can be assured of my salvation. To doubt my salvation is to say that Christ did not do enough.

The other possibility is you're raising a question in regards to eternal security. You believe you'd be saved if you died right now, but you think it's possible you might do something in the future before you die to cause you to lose your salvation.

I would suggest you see the items listed at Eternal Security and the article Salvation in the Roman Catholic Church. My Scripture Workbook also has studies on salvation and on eternal security.


>I have been reading your web site and I don't know how to start. After two bad Church experiences, I doubt my salvation and trust in the Lord. I am sorry; I don't want to feel this way. I have heard so many doctrines my head is swimming.

In the first Church, a mainline church, it was run by American Hindus. I stood up for Jesus in that I said he was God, he died for our sins, there is a Heaven and a Hell, etc. I was tarred and feathered and threatened. The second Church, a Baptist church, was legalist to say the least. Since I didn't know what legalism was, it took me a year to find out. I came out of there feeling so bad about myself; I have become so afraid of Jesus... I feel I have to perform and that if I can't quit sinning I am sunk. What was once my joy is now my dread.

When I first read the Bible, not too long ago, I took it to heart when Jesus told Peter to tend My sheep. I started witnessing and that is all I want to do. Funny, I am in such horrible spiritual shape myself, but I have a heart for it. I am a deeply insecure person and have trouble dealing with self-hate. It is hard for me to imagine that I too can be saved. I feel so guilty for the life of sin that I have led.

According to the Baptists, I was saved a year ago, although, my heart doesn't feel right. I have a hard time trusting. I have had a rough life and feel very poorly about myself. This is getting in my way. I can't imagine that God could really love me. I have lost my family because of my faith and an evil man, and it is too much for me to bear. I have prayed and prayed but no response from God. I know all the verses about God's timing, waiting, this is fine, but I can't take it. I just want to die. Please help me.
Thank you,
Cynthia
11/22/2005<

Thank you for your email. It does sound like you are really struggling. The legalistic church probably played into your insecurities, causing you even greater distress.

If you have repented of your sins and have trusted in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for your forgiveness and salvation, you are forgiven and saved, whether you "feel" like it or not. You need to stop looking at yourself and your own inadequacies. In fact, it is because we all have such inadequacies, and thus could never make ourselves good enough for God, that He sent His Son to die for our sins. But by your continued looking at yourself and self-doubt, you are in essence saying that what Jesus did for you is not enough.

So what you have is a faith issue. You sound like the following verse in the Bible, "Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, 'Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!'" (Mark 9:24; NKJV). Or, as I render it, "And immediately, having cried out, the father of the young child with tears said, 'I do believe [or, I do have faith]! Lord, be helping my unbelief [or, my weak faith]!'" (ALT).

You have faith, but it is weak. And it is only God that can give you stronger faith. But it sounds like you are too focused on yourself. You are on the right track in witnessing out to others. That helps to take the focus off of yourself onto others. Along with witnessing, maybe you should try some type of "helps" ministry, volunteering with some kind of ministry to the physical needs of people.

It's possible you are thinking about things and even praying too much. As you help others, you could very well find yourself having less insecurities and self-hate. It's as we help others that we come to feel better about ourselves.
 


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