I’m going to begin a series on helping children come to an assurance of salvation. This topic has been percolating for awhile, and Lee and I have been discussing it at length together. We’ll see how it all comes together.
When I was a teenager, I started having doubts of my salvation. The trouble was, I couldn’t really remember exactly what happened when I was saved. I remember sitting with a Sunday school teacher, and her opening the Bible on a step. That’s it. I was four years old. When I was six, I wanted to be baptized, and I remember much more clearly the questions of the pastor. Does baptism save you? I remember being horrified by the question! Absolutely not. I knew then that I was trusting in Jesus Christ for my salvation.
But as I got older, I started to worry. What if I hadn’t prayed right? What if my memory was a fabrication of my imagination? What if… I tried a number of means to reassure myself, but finally one night I woke up my mom and told her my problem.
She didn’t tell me I was saved. She didn’t tell me I wasn’t saved. She did open her Bible and explain that people doubt their salvation for a number of reasons.
- First, some people doubt their salvation because they are not saved. That one is pretty obvious, and the solution is to get saved.
- Second some people doubt their salvation because they do not understand who God is and the nature of their salvation. First John, and First Peter, directly address some of those fears. The solution is to learn. The more we learn about God and salvation, the more confidence I have in what He has done.
- Third, some people doubt their salvation because they have sin in their lives or are not growing spiritually. The guilty feeling is a gift from God to tell us that something is wrong. We’re told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We’re told to examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith. Peter tells us that people who are not growing forget about their salvation! The solution, for this problem, of course, is to repent and/or grow! Peter commands us to give diligence to adding spiritual disciplines to our lives.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. II Peter 1:5-10
This discussion with my mom was extremely helpful for me, although it didn’t completely answer whether I was saved or not. I still wasn’t entirely sure what category I was in! That came several years later, in college. A pastor in my church mentioned that what we think about to reassure ourselves that we are saved can indicate what we’re trusting in for our salvation: baptism, church membership, the word of a parent, the words of a prayer we said. For a saved person, assurance comes from what Christ has done and said. At that point, I understood completely that as long as I looked to my memory and what I did, I’d continue to have doubts. But if I looked at God’s Word, I would find assurance (assuming I had obeyed His Word in the matter of salvation).
I Timothy 1:12 says For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
God used this passage to give me assurance. I knew I believed, and was trusting in Jesus Christ for my salvation. Thus, I could rest assured that God is able to keep me saved. Several times after this sermon I had doubts, but I found immediate relief when I turned to Scripture. Then the doubts stopped completely.