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Question 39

Q: I’m 83 years old and made a profession of faith in 1951. I believe I went through a period of reformation, but I’m not sure I was regenerated.

My behavior has changed, but I’ve been looking for the assurance of salvation for over 50 years. 

I’ve heard you say, “saving faith is the deep settled conviction that what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us is all that we need to stand on in the presence of a Holy God.” I believe that, but I’m not sure that I have ever appropriated that for myself. 

Many years ago, a preacher told me I was going by my feelings. Maybe so, but I can’t stop looking within. The Bible says the Spirit bears witness with our Spirit. I want that witness.

I know I’m a sinner and I’m lost unless I have been genuinely converted. I have some faith, but I’m not sure it’s a saving faith. I need a real work of God in my heart.

Asked by: Patrick, North Carolina

A: Well, Patrick, I’m so glad that you wrote, and I wish that we could have a cup of tea together so we could dialogue regarding your spiritual journey—about why you continue to doubt.

A couple of things to ponder. First, it’s possible to be genuinely saved and still have doubts. One day on an airplane I found myself sitting next to a young woman for whom it was her first flight. She was so scared and asked me, “Is it going to be as bad as a roller coaster?” I said, “I sure hope not.” Now, I’ve flown many times. She was filled with doubts; I was confident. We both arrived at our destination at the same time. In the very same way, there are Christians who have doubts, but they believe in Jesus. And yes, they are saved.  Some are fearful on the journey uncertain of their safe arrival; others enjoy the ride but they both arrive at their destination.

Second, don’t look back to your profession of faith in 1951 as the basis of your salvation. You have doubts as to what happened back then; why not affirm your trust in Christ today? Tell Jesus that you now embrace Him as Savior with faith and a desire to be assured of your salvation. Remember the Bible says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. I encourage you to continue to cleave to the promises of God—the promises I am sure you know so well—about salvation and the assurance of faith. Cast all of your hope of eternal life on Him.

As you submit to God and claim those promises, I pray that light will break into your soul. The ministry and the goodness of the Spirit will be there, and you’ll have the assurance that you belong to God.

A final footnote to this. I’ve discovered that those who have grown up with a great deal of emotional pain sometimes struggle more with the assurance of salvation. They’ve gone through such a topsy-turvy experiences in their childhood that they find it difficult to fully trust and to fully believe. But keep believing. Keep trusting. The promises are there for you. I hope someday, Patrick, I’ll see you in heaven.

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