Tag Archives: Doubt

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #10. They depend on another person to give them assurance.

Although I have never had anyone come into my office or call me with this specific request, if we could filter through much of the verbiage, this is what they are requesting many times. They want a person to assure them of their salvation.  The fact is, assurance of salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit alone.

I want you to imagine this picture.  You sit in a dimly lit room. You have a Bible in your lap. It is at night. The moon is shining so there is a little bit of light coming into the room, but not enough to read the Bible. You say to yourself, “I wish I felt more saved. I wish I had more confidence in my salvation.”

The truth that will set you free is in your lap, but it is too dark to read. On the table beside you is a lamp. You say to yourself “I wonder why that lamp is not on. I wish that lamp were on. I wish someone would turn on that lamp for me.” As silly as this scenario appears to be, what are you doing? You are expecting someone to do for you what you could do for yourself. What do you need to do? You need to flip the light switch or turn on the lamp.

The situation here is you need illumination.  You need to read the Bible.  You cannot expect someone to do for you what you are able to do for yourself. You need to reach over and flip on the light, open the Bible, read it, and keep reading it on a regular basis.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” One of my favorite statements of Jesus is “You shall know the truth and the truth will make you free.” To the degree that we know Him and know truth, is the degree to which we will be free. While we read, the Holy Spirit illumines the Word so we can see what we need to see.

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #9: They deprive themselves of time in the Word.

I find this problem to be quite common.  It is especially true of people who do not spend sufficient time in the Word for one or more of the following reasons:

  • they just don’t or they choose not to,
  • they lose the ability to read, or
  • they lose the desire to read because they are in a pit of depression or have become disillusioned.

The Word of God is spiritual food for us. In 1 Peter 2:2 we find these words, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,” In Matthew 4:4, we find Jesus saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Remember the Bible is the inspired Word of God. In Jeremiah 15:16 we find, “Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”

When we deprive ourselves of time in the Word, our spirit begins to dry up. It is like what would happen to your physical body if you were to just stop eating food. It would start getting weak, anemic, etc. When we deprive ourselves of time in the Word, the result is loss of hope. A remarkable illustration of this is what I call the John the Baptist Syndrome.

                               The John the Baptist Syndrome
To appreciate this, remember the time when John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to Jesus with this question: “Are you the Coming One, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). Can you imagine? This same John said previously “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” and “His sandals I am not even worthy to untie.” But now he is questioning whether Jesus is the Christ. How are we to understand this? John was losing hope. John had become disillusioned. In his situation of prison confinement, John was not in the Word as he had been.

If you are questioning your salvation, examine your personal time in the Word and you personal time with the Lord in prayer. If it is lacking, that just might be an important cause for your doubt.

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #8: They have not fully reckoned on why Jesus died on the cross in the first place.

Sometimes, the reason why we doubt our salvation is simply weak theology. We have not developed a mature personal understanding of why Jesus died on the cross. In Romans 4:25, the Apostle Paul tells us Jesus “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” In Romans 5:8 he wrote, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

The truth of the matter is Jesus came for the very purpose of providing the only way for our salvation. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” . The fact is we need to personally embrace the truth that He came for this purpose. In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Since He is the way, the truth, and the life, He is the only way of entering into an eternal relationship with God here and now and entering heaven when this life is over. To consider the depth of this truth is powerful in our quest for assurance of salvation.

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #7: They question the credibility of the person who led them to Christ or the person who baptized them.

During a previous pastorate, in another state, some close friends attended another church in town. The family included a daughter in her early twenties. A time came in the life of this young lady when she realized a walk up the aisle at an earlier time in her life was not a real salvation experience. At an invitation time, she went forward in that church. The pastor of the church counseled her. She gave her life to Christ. Several days later, the pastor baptized her.

Things were going just fine until the pastor of the church was exposed for living a double life. The previously unknown side of his life consisted of years of serious moral failures, the details of which we will leave unspoken. His moral failures cost him his life a few years later.

The mother of the young lady called me and asked if I would counsel her daughter because the daughter doubted her salvation. My wife and I went over to the house and talked with them. You can probably guess the problem. The young lady questioned the validity of her salvation because of the credibility of the person who introduced her to Christ and later baptized her. I am glad to report the counseling session was successful.

We need to remember people do not save us. The pastor did not save her. God saves based on the finished work of Christ on the cross and the power of the resurrection. The moral failure of the pastor did not change her salvation. Even though it is devastating for a man of God to fall spiritually, that situation did not change her salvation.  Our salvation is by the grace of God and His declaration about us.

As we stated earlier, salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Let us also remember what Jesus said in John 10:28-29. “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”  Read those verses again and see how they apply in this very real situation and others we may experience.

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #6. They commit a glaring sin

We doubt our salvation when sin creeps into our life or when we choose to do wrong over what we know to be right. Here is the logical progression of this thought:

  • “I did this (whatever the sin is).”
  • “A real Christian would not do this.”
  • “Evidently I am not a Christian.”

Although we should not sin and should not get comfortable sinning, all of us still sin after salvation. James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body”. 1 John 1:8 & 10 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us”.

Think of it this way.   If “not sinning” kept us saved and “sinning” caused us to lose our salvation then what is the logical conclusion? Salvation would be a work of our own and our salvation would be short lived.

Another problem related to this line of thinking is, we begin to catalogue sins. We develop mental lists of acceptable sins and unacceptable sins; a list of constructive sins and destructive sins.

When you really think about it, constructive sins [an oxymoron] would be a sin we have determined is a sin but the end justifies the means and we have put it in a separate list. It is true that some sins are worse than others (Matthew 7:1-5; John 19:11), but as far as God is concerned for whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romams 14:23)

R. T. Kendall says, “All of us have one single greatest fear. Something that we have done that we would not want anyone to know. But God knows it and loves us anyway. Whether it happened before you were saved or after, He knew it and He saved you anyway.”

Once again, let us affirm our salvation is by God’s grace and is secure in Jesus Christ. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #5: They reject the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

If a person adds any personal effort or work to salvation whereby they are assisting God in the process, they are rejecting the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Any works plan of salvation will never produce genuine assurance.

How can we know a person is relying on his or her own efforts rather than the grace of God for salvation? We discern this in the responses they give to certain questions. Questions like:

  • “Are you saved?”
  • “Are you going to heaven when you die?”

When we ask questions like these, we may get one of several responses. Let us consider some responses and see if we can understand what the person is really saying.

Response: “I am doing the best I can.” This person is saying he is in the process, so he thinks, of earning his salvation.” Notice “I” am doing the best “I” can.

Response: “I won’t know or no one can know until they die.” This person has what we call “Saint Peter at the gate” theology.  This line of thinking comes from hearing too many Saint Peter at the Gate jokes. They have the idea that when we die, God is going to weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds and based on the comparison God is going to make a decision. This person is betting on his own good works to out-weigh his bad works.

Response: “I hope so, I think so, I am as good as other people.” All three of these responses indicate that he is attempting to earn God’s approval because he is, relatively speaking, a good person.

As Spirit-controlled believers, we know the best we can do will never measure-up because Jesus did it all on the cross. We know the Word of God says salvation is acquired here and now. It is not decided based on some sort of merit system in heaven.  We know that our salvation is not based on our being better than other people are because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Genuine salvation is based on grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone.

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #4.  They reject the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer.

Let us remind ourselves of the clear distinction between the “security of the believer” and the assurance of salvation.

The security of the believer is the work of God and guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is forever and cannot be lost. The security of our salvation in Christ is a biblical truth; a biblical fact than can be proven.

The assurance of salvation is the realization that the believer does possess eternal life. Therefore, our salvation being eternally secure in Christ can be proven, but only the Holy Spirit can give us the assurance of salvation.

If a person simply refuses to believe what the Bible says about the security of the believer, he or she will never experience the assurance of salvation because they are actually blocking the very truth the Holy Spirit is trying to confirm.

Once again we see the powerful impact of Jesus’ words in John 8:32 when He said “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Only when we know truth and embrace truth can that very truth make us free. That includes freedom from the fear of losing our salvation.

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

Reason #3: They question the location of where they were saved

Many times, doubt creeps in when we question where our salvation happened. So many times in the Baptist church, we equate salvation with “going forward” or “going down front” at an invitation time. If you were saved at home, in a hospital room, at camp, on a battlefield, etc., you may question the location of your salvation. The question you may be asking yourself is “Was it proper?”

We need to remember we need not be in church to be saved. God does not live at church. He is omnipresent (everywhere present). If you were saved at church, great!  However, this is not a requirement.

We need not fret or be concerned about where we were when our salvation took place. When we read the Bible, we find salvation happening in a home, by a well, and while people walked along a road; just to name a few locations.

I have a friend whose testimony is the first time he heard the gospel he was sitting at a bar drinking with a backslidden believer. The fact of the matter is, what the witness said to my friend made an impact as he shared truth from the Word of God; even though the environment was unusual for that kind of a spiritual encounter.

So, if you are questioning the location of your salvation, take heart.  God can hear our prayers from any location. Consider these words from Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” There is no mention of a required location.