All across this country, every single day, Christians ask themselves difficult questions. Some are born out of anger, others from fear or frustration. In many cases, those kinds of gut check questions can be crippling. Of all these questions, none causes more ulcers than this one, our final question in this series:
When you look over your life and consider
the problems that won't go away
or the spiritual lethargy you constantly struggle against,
do you sometimes ask yourself,
Am I truly saved?
Some gut check questions move from the gut and over the lips to be shared with others. I suspect this one stays buried down deep, rotting away. Questioning one's salvation isn't discussed in polite Christian company unless one wants to send that polite company screaming away into the night.
So people suffer under it.
I can't speak about your salvation. Unless we've fellowshipped in person, I don't really know you. Only God knows you.
But I will say this: people who struggle with this gut check question are typically not the ones who need to worry. People who aren't saved don't typically wander through the day burdened by the question. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
—2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
In context, this is to the people who question his ministry, the spiritually smug and complacent. But people who aren't spiritually smug, the very people who go around gut checking themselves on this question, aren't the ones to whom it is addressed.
Believe in Jesus Christ. Be baptized. Live out—no matter how imperfectly at this point in time—what the Lord reveals to you from the Scriptures and by His Holy Spirit in your life's journey. (Living it out is what separates real Christians from the demons, the ones who also believe, but don't live it—James 2:19, right?) Be at rest on your security, but always desire more of Him. Every runner in the race struggles, some more than others, but all that matters is finishing the race.
We can't test ourselves in each second. Just as you can't look at your son or daughter and see that they've grown since yesterday, so it's not possible to see spiritual progress in one slice of one minute of one day. Your life does not consist of just this one moment in time, and yet we often try to compare it against the entirety of time, especially if we are using another person as our gauge. We might think that Charles Spurgeon's life was so much more fulfilling, but none of us was considering him on that one Tuesday as he lit up a favorite brand of cigar in his private den and kicked back his heels.
If you're questioning your faith, then confess it, have faith in Christ, and pray that He will strengthen you more thoroughly tomorrow. He will honor that prayer. Even if you pray it every day. Especially if you pray it every day. Then one day, you'll look back down the road and see how far you've come. And curiously enough, this particular gut check may have vanished along the way.
Other posts in this series:
7 thoughts on “Gut Check #7”
This is an important issue and, as you well know, one that stems from a variety of (in my mind, faulty) theologies. Personally, I struggled with the question for less than a year after coming to be known by God (Gal 4.9). When I learned to base my assurance on the clear teaching of Scripture, the haunting question was identified for what it truly is: a manifestation of my fleshly need to feel worthy or as though I, having begun by the Spirit, was going to accomplish sanctification by my own flesh (Gal 3.3).
Assurance makes it possible to serve God (to whatever extent I may actually do that) out of love and not fear. God loves me – that is an astounding truth. He will not give up on me even if I give up on myself or when I seek to punish myself by agonizing over questions like, “Am I really saved?”
Now we all must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Co 13.5), but that is done by trusting God’s word, not by listening to the gurgling sounds of the chemical soup that happens to be cooking in my brain on any given day. I can trust what God has said; the little voice in my head, however, is both deceived and deceiving if left unfettered by the word of God.
(I hope the ‘prooftexts’ aren’t offensive. I know you know the allusions, but there might be a few of your many readers who don’t.)
Direct hit to the GodSpot.
OMG, brother Dan, you are too deep! I really appreciate this series, you just don’t know how much. Yes, this question has come up in my life as well. For me, it is struggles like this that convince me more and more of my salvation. Over time, I’ve come to consider my trials, difficulties and problems to be my friends. I realized that I couldn’t develop the kind of depth and rootedness in God that I needed without them. No, I don’t like that, but it’s just the way it is. Two examples: I learned about the sovereignty of God through losing my grandfather (my first spiritual mentor) to Alzheimer’s. I quoted my favorite “faith scriptures” and nothing happened. So I got a clue and found out that God is not a cosmic bellhop. Second, I learned about grace and forgiveness through the near loss of my marriage. My husband, who is a pastor, had a moral failure which was rather public and very ugly. That was in 1991. Fast forward. Today (August 3, 2006) is our 21st anniversary. Yes, we stayed together. We went through the pain, embarrassment, shunning, etc., together. Yes, we could have split up, but the valuable lessons and growth I received, I would not have today if I had quit. No glory to me, I’m no one extrordinary.
So yes, I’m confident in my salvation, but the confidence is in the God who gave it to me. He loves me, as I am, but loves me too much to leave me that way. I learned more about His love in the bad stuff than in the good times. Even when I screamed, I cried, I hollered out to Him for answers, He didn’t always give them. But somehow, I knew He couldn’t lie, and He would not abandon me. NO, I didn’t have glorious mountaintop experiences with Him in those situations I just described, but there was just a knowing that He is who He said He is, and I tried to trust that and go on.
Dan, you could have started this post saying, “All across this country, every single day, Travis asks himself this difficult question…” and been just as spot-on.
It would, perhaps, “stay buried deep down” but for my wife, who has an ear for any crazy notion I may have (up to a point, of course). Praise God for giving me a companion with whom I can share such troubling matters!
And thank you, Dan, for your encouragement. Your point about checking our children’s physical growth is a good one. Seems the grandparents are much better at that, only seeing the kids every couple of weeks or so. 😉
The question poses as it is in the gut check preamble seems to infer that if you have on-going areas of stuggle, you might be prone to wondering if you are truly saved – in other words, if you ARE truly saved then you won’t have those on-going troubles. If that is the question being posed, I suppose it’s a good one to pose and to attempt to research and answer… but the bottom line is that we are either “saved’ or we’re not. A person can be “saved” and still deal with issues of sin – since we all do that. A person can be “saved” and not have all areas of their life under control yet. In fact, we are always in process, aren’t we?
My answer to the question is this – I am absolutely, truly, 100% saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. End of story. As a saved individual, sometimes I am dead on target – other times I stumble and sin. But I am never “un-saved” and I never question my eternal salvation. And I pray others do not as well.
I was struggling with something similar this morning; not doubting my salvation, but realizing, in a way that grieved me, that God was not first in my life. I read Christian blogs and listen to sermons on the radio, pray my cursory prayers, but don’t truly seek Him, yearn for Him, immerse myself in His word. And as a result, it hit me I am doing poorly in my walk, in my role as spiritual leader of my family, in knowing and being in His will.
But then, it is the people that grieve over their lack of growth and spiritual discipline that end up growing, as their grieving spurs them on.
Great site and great series, Dan.
Hello. Thank you so much for writing this. I used to read some of your posts on the Ooze. I was quite a theological liberal back then. However, I have since realized that I can not shape God into what I want him to be, and I continually, and often failingly, seek to learn how to be truly obedient to God’s will. Thus, I thought I would check out your blog as you always seemed pretty theologically solid. Your post could not have come at a better time. I read this immediately after posting in my own blog– daveordave.blogspot.com. If you have the time to read my last post, you’ll see why your post was so relevant to me. I think I’m going to become a regular reader of your blog. Thanks again.