What Should I Do if I Doubt My Salvation?
This week on the podcast, I want to talk about doubting your salvation. But I want to talk about doubting your salvation in a little bit of a different way than we typically do. Typically, when I talk with Christians and church members throughout my ministry, when you’re talking to somebody who doubts their salvation, you’re talking to someone who is in a lot of pain, you are talking to somebody who is struggling, who feels overwhelmed because what they want is to be saved, they are concerned that they are not because of their doubts. They don’t want to be without salvation, and so it’s a painful, difficult process. There is a time and a place to be open and honest about how painful and dark of a place that could be. But what I want to do this week is I want to talk about the blessing of doubting your salvation. There is a blessing in doubting your salvation, and there is a benefit to speaking to someone who is struggling like this to say, hey, look, I realize that you’re overwhelmed. I realize that you’re hurting. But I want you to see that there’s a blessing in having these doubts and raising these questions as well.
The Blessing of Doubting Your Salvation
Here is the blessing. The blessing comes in an honest appraisal of what your life and your heart are before the Lord. In 1 John 4:1, it says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” This is a passage that talks about our spiritual area of existence. And it says that we’re not supposed to believe every spiritual experience, we’re not supposed to trust every spiritual encounter that we have, and there are times when we should doubt when we should distrust some spiritual encounters. Here’s the thing. If you are doubting your salvation, or if you know someone who is doubting their salvation, then this gives you an opportunity to obey this biblical command and to test the spirits. Let me put it to you this way. There are some people who are not saved but who really believe they are saved. I had a conversation with a church member two decades ago and went to visit her in her home. She had been in church for all of her life. This was a woman in her 80s, and as we talked in her living room that afternoon, I asked her to tell me about her salvation and how she knew she was a Christian. And in response to that question, she told me the story of being a little girl, a little girl who went to Sunday school and to church, and her uncle went to the church, and her uncle loved it when he saw her at church. Every Sunday that he would see her go to Sunday school and church, he would give her a nickel that she could use to buy ice cream. And she said, Pastor, there was never a Sunday that I didn’t get my ice cream. Because there was never a Sunday that I didn’t have my nickel because there was never Sunday that I wasn’t in church. That was her expression of assurance of salvation. When asked, tell me why you’re Christian, tell me how you know you’re saved. And she told me about Sunday school and nickels and ice cream. Now listen, I actually love all those things. I love Sunday school. I love nickels. I love ice cream. None of them are the reason I am saved. And none of them are the reason that woman was saved. That is to say, she had strong conviction that she was saved. But she was strongly incorrect. It would have been a blessing to her heart and a blessing to her eternal soul to doubt her salvation, she should have doubted her salvation because she wasn’t saved. She needed to test the spirits.
Trust in Christ Alone
Here’s the benefit. If you’re doubting your salvation, you have the opportunity to obey this command, ask hard questions, and discover whether the spirit that is testifying that you are saved is real. And here is what 1 John 4 goes on to say, “Don’t believe every spirit. Test every spirit to see whether it’s from God. Many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God, every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.” If you are doubting your salvation, I know it can be painful, and I know it can be hard. And I know it can be difficult, but there’s a blessing in it. And the blessing is discovering whether you really are saved. And if you would say, how do I know if I’m really saved? The answer is, are you trusting in Jesus Christ? Are you trusting that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh to live a perfect life, to die on the cross, and to rise from the grave? If the answer to that question is yes, then you are saved. If the answer to that question is anything else, you’re in trouble. If the answer to that question is, well, I prayed a prayer back 129 years ago, if the answer to that question is, well, I went down and stood at this church and occupied this place of geography, or if the answer to that question is nickels and ice cream and Sunday school. If the answer to that question is anything else, then my faith and my hope and my trust and my confidence are in Jesus, then you are in trouble. But if, on the other side of the doubt, if you wrestle it to the ground, and you beg God to show you the spirit that’s in your heart, and he reveals to you that you are right now today, trusting in Jesus and in Jesus alone, then you are saved. You are blessed, and all the doubts you’ve had about your salvation have been more than worth it.