I have always struggled with recurring fear that I might not be saved, and when I doubt I think that this doubt could mean I was never saved in the first place. I absolutely believe that Jesus saves whoever believes on Him for salvation, but no matter what I do my brain won’t accept this for myself. I know it is irrational, but it is like my mind tells me that I am the exception and will not be allowed to be with Jesus in Heaven. It breaks my heart and I am very distressed. I want to share God’s love with other people but I feel like I cannot because I do not even know it myself. I am tormented with thoughts like “Do I really have genuine saving faith?” “Does my doubt mean I am not saved/ do not know Jesus at all? “Am I lost if I can’t trust Him?” “If the Holy Spirit gives assurance of salvation, I must not have it” and so on. Please help me, my spirit is very troubled.
First, I am going to assure you that you have faith and are therefore saved. I know this because you are concerned with your salvation. God tells us that those who do not have faith are spiritually dead and that they are not concerned with the things of the spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2:14 we are told, “1The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him.” So the fact that you are concerned says that God has worked faith in you and has brought you to salvation. The plaguing question, “Do I really have genuine faith?” suggests to me that you may not fully understand what God tells us about faith.
Faith is not something that we do. It is something that we receive from God by grace. Romans tells us, “No one seeks God, no not one.” and that we are given by God the gift of faith. That means faith is not something we do; nor is it something we can measure or quantify. Saving faith is, if you will, like the mustard seed faith. It may not seem like much but it is God’s gift that is bringing you salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us, “for it is by grace you have seen saved thought faith, and this is not of yourselves it is a gift of God–not by works so that no-one can boast.” God’s love has given you the ability to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and to believe it in your heart. That only happens when you have the Holy Spirit and His gift of faith.
Moments of doubt are not uncommon among believers. That doubt, or questions that rise in our minds do not mean we have no faith. We want to believe that we have an understanding of how God is working in our lives. But often we can’t see His plan. That is where God’s Word becomes essential. We know how God feels about us through His word. Not by how we are feeling about God on any day. Our emotions can be like a roller coaster, but God’s love for you is constant, reliable and unchanging. Trust God’s Word that He loves and forgives you. When Luther struggled with this very problem not sure if he was saved or damned a prayer was suggested that help him. He was told to pray, “Lord I am Yours, save me.” It is said that he would pray that repeatedly until he would be comforted and assured. God, Himself, will bring you the comfort of knowing your salvation is assured. But when doubt rises turn to Him in prayer….acknowledge you are His child and ask His help.
I will be praying for you. If you would like to continue this discussion, you can e-mail me or post follow up questions. — Pastor Moore