God Doesn’t Want (Most Of) You To Doubt Your Salvation

God wants us to be watchful people. The Bible bleeds with cautionary words that are intended to widen our spiritual eyes so that we pay careful attention to the condition of our hearts. The author of Hebrews issued strong warnings to believers about the perils of failing to pay close attention to the message we’ve heard (Hebrews 2:1), the deadly nature of an unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12), and the wrath that will come upon us if we willfully persist in sin (Hebrews 10:26-27). These words of caution are jolting and frightening, but they are actually one of the means by which God graciously keeps us fastened to Christ by faith. The Christian who heeds these warnings is a Christian who continuously strives to distance himself from evil and nurture the faith God has given him. A healthy fear of sin’s heart-hardening nature propels him away from the filth of this world and toward Jesus.

However, the Bible is not merely or even mainly a book of warnings. It is a book that bursts at the seams with confidence-inducing, hope-anchoring, and joy-quickening assurances for the follower of Christ.

I know some of you reading this article today are unceasingly anxious about your spiritual condition. When you read the Scriptures, the frightening warnings about inauthentic faith and apostasy seem to be illuminated with a fluorescent glow—you can’t pull your attention away from them. And in some cases, this may be a good thing. If you are someone who claims your citizenship is in heaven while your life is set on fire by hellish debaucheries, it is good you cannot escape the terror of God’s warnings. Your doubt and fear is actually a gift meant to lead you back to a faithful pursuit of the One who purges his people’s hearts of doubt and fear when they abide in him.

But there are many of you who truly love Christ are striving to be obedient to him, yet you still tremble when you think about your standing before God. You feel like God’s acceptance of you hinges, moment-by-moment, on your ability to keep your faith alive—but you aren’t even sure the faith you possess is genuine! The Bible is indisputably clear that God wants to smash your fear to pieces and perfect you in his love (1 John 4:17-18). He wants to usher you into the peace of knowing you possess the irrevocable gift of eternal life. He doesn’t want you to endure the trials and tribulations of this life while only being 68% positive that you are actually saved and will finish the race—he wants you to be so certain of your immutable position in Christ that you plow through the sufferings of this world with undefeatable hope and fiery joy.

Jesus spoke the following words (and many similar words) so that his followers would know they are forever secure in his saving grip:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27-28 (emphasis mine)

Do you hear the voice of Jesus? When you read the biblical writings, do they resonate with you as the very words of God? If they do, you do hear the voice of Jesus, and he knows you. Do you draw near to Christ often and seek to obey his commands? If you do, the eternal life of God really does abide within you. You will never perish—no one (not even you) will snatch your soul out of Jesus’ hand.

The apostles continued Christ’s mission to infuse assurance into the hearts of his people. When writing to the faithful saints in the Philippian church, Paul was so bold as to say, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). The evidences of faith in these Philippian believers’ lives—the same evidences that are likely present in your life—gave Paul all the reason in the world to assure them that God had truly saved them and would surely sustain them in his grace.

Peter elaborates on God’s invincible work of grace in the lives of those who love and strive after Jesus:

“According to his great mercy, [God] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5 (emphasis mine)

If you possess a sincere faith that expresses itself in affection for Christ and progressive obedience to his commands, it is not because you, in your own strength and natural capabilities, mustered up this faith—neither do you sustain it by your own will and power. If you trust in Christ today, it is because God has graciously caused you to be born again and gifted you this saving faith (Ephesians 2:8)—and he is guarding you through it. The protective power of God, working through your grace-wrought belief in Jesus, is keeping you united to the one “who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24).

If you are doubtful about your salvation today, follow the apostle Paul’s command: examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Do you see, even dimly, the beauty of Jesus and love what you see? Though your flesh is still infested with vile desires, do you also desire to live in obedience to Christ? Do you strive [imperfectly] to do so? If you answer yes to these questions, you have good reason to rest assured that you are eternally safe in the impenetrable fortress of God’s grace. Yes, you should work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)—but not the kind of fear and trembling that leaves you perpetually unsure about God’s love for you and his faithfulness toward you. Work out your salvation with reverence and awe, knowing “it is God who works in you, both to will and work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

  • Lyle Nelson

    Great post on a very important issue, Matt! Just a few additional thoughts:

    -In your examination of your faith, ask God for help with the process (Psalms 26:2). He knows what’s in your heart even better than you do!

    -If you have more mature Christian mentors or friends who you trust to be completely open and honest with you, ask them what they see in your life. Of course, they cannot know exactly what’s in your heart, but they can give godly advice on what they see from the outside.

    -Satan obviously has an interest in both keeping the number of Jesus-followers as small as possible, and making those whom he cannot steal less effective. To accomplish these objectives, his activity could take one of two directions:
    1. Doing all he can to lull someone who THINKS he is a Christian, but in reality is not, into believing that he or she is indeed a Christian, and there’s no need to be concerned, or to take action to do more to truly come to Christ.
    2. Doing all that he can to cast doubt into the hearts of real Christians, so that they spend a lot of time worrying about their salvation and thus become less effective in their work for the Lord.
    Don’t let Satan fool you!

    • P0xi

      Lyle, you speak true words.

      But I don’t think that Satan stops there.

      Satan is powerful, but also wise. No one would rebel against the ultimate authority of a god without good reason.

      Do you think that God is automatically right? Is something good and holy because God says it is good and holy? Or is something good and holy no matter what God says?

      If God said it was good to hate your neighbor, would that make it good?

      Don’t be a fool. If you say yes, you’re scum on my boot, and you’re the devil himself.

      You need to stop being a Christian if being a Christian means you become a bad person.
      You need to stop believing in God if believing in God means you judge people and make enemies of the innocent.
      You need to become an atheist if you realize that religions cause harm to the world.

      Why?

      Because doing what is right is more important than listening to authority.

      If you have a fact, and a lie, but you’re told to have “faith” in the lie, and told that the fact is “evil”, do you believe the lie?

      If you say yes, then again, you are scum on my boot.

      There is only one path you can take when presented with a truth and a lie.

      You need to accept the truth.

      THE COLDEST, DARKEST TRUTH.

      There is no God, and there is no purpose to life.
      We are evolved animals living by instinct, as if we were machines.

      Nihilism is true. There is no meaning to the world.
      All religions are made up.

      Islam is false, Judaism is false, Hinduism is false, and yes, your favorite religion is also false.

      Jesus was just a man. A wise man perhaps, but the truth is that he was just a cult leader who made such a powerful cult, it spread all over the world because of sheer violence and coercion. Do you think the Norse Vikings of Europe became Christian because it made sense to them?

      Of course not. It was believe or die by the sword.

      There is no truth to this cult mythology, just as there is no truth to ANY cult mythology, be it Islam or Zeus of the Greek myths.

      Do you think I don’t realize how utterly convenient it is to have a religion that says “Believe and you are rewarded, disbelieve, and you get punished”? You’ve gotta be kidding me if you think that sort of bullshit has even an ounce of truth. You’re being manipulated, and when you question the bullshit, you’re told that questioning it is evil? That having doubt is evil?

      If you can’t accept the truth in your heart, no matter the utter fear you feel, then you have already accepted Satan as your master. You’ve already committed yourself to believing a lie that you know is a lie.

      You know what is in your heart better than God does. Only you know the truth.
      You know that there’s no God. I say this because of an important passage though.

      “A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”.

      So I declare it openly. There is no God. There is no unending paradise simulation for after you die. Do you really think you will be immortal AFTER you die? Are you that deluded into cultist propaganda that you think you, a mere MORTAL, will be IMMORTAL?

      How convenient for you, little human, that you get to live forever, even though you fear death so much that you’d do almost anything to avoid it.

      Of course, this sort of situation is hilarious to me.
      No matter what I say, you will think Satan told me to say it, right?
      You think that this is a battle against Satan, when the truth is that there is no Satan.

      There is no little trickster trying to convince you that the religious cult you believe in isn’t real.

      There’s only me, just another silly human, lost in a crazy world. Unlike you, I’ve accepted this dark truth. And unlike many, I’ve chosen to live a pure life.

      You can too. You can still be a Christian. But don’t lie to people. Don’t lie to yourself.

      The supernatural isn’t real, and that includes God.

      • Trollin’, trollin’, trollin! Keep those trolls a trollin’! Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’! Rawhide!

      • Yemisi Fadiya

        I believe you typing and voicing your mind here means God is working relentlessly in you and he’s bringing you towards salvation. You stumbling or reading this blog isn’t a coincidence or a mistake. Jesus is chasing you and l believe you need to stop running and be held.

  • cryptical

    Thanks, Matt. This is really timely for me, as I’ve been wrestling through some of these issues recently.

    But today I read John 18:37 where Jesus says to Pilate, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” –and my heart thrilled to it. I truly believe he is the way, the truth, and the life. Whether or not I always walk that out as perfectly as I’d like to–well, no. But he gives grace.

  • love2write

    Thank you for this Matt. I was struggling with this very thing last night and felt blindsided by things happening beyond my control. I wrestled with verses like Romans 8:28, questioning, “When am I going to see things work out for the good?” I musn’t be in the faith if I doubt the Word of God. Today I realize that it is not ME that keeps the earth in orbit, causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall. It is not ME who saved my soul, but by His mercy and grace. God is in control of it all whether I understand it or not. And yes, I know He will never ever let me go. All praise to Him! God bless you!

  • Because I am SSA, and I had left the faith, I was always trying to please God through knowledge. It turned out that all the Hebrew I knew, the history of Israel, who the antichrist du jure was, was all meaningless. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and that was everything. It didn’t matter how celibate I was, or how much I thought I knew, if I didn’t have a repentant heart.
    After I came back and my memory was erased, I began to learn again what it meant to be a Christian. Of this I am certain: I am saved. I am living for the Lord. Am I tempted? Daily, but I do not act on those temptations. I fight the temptations daily. I have learned not to judge, because of the grace that God afforded me. Mostly I have learned I can have a relationship with God. I am His child, not a mistake. For so long I believed this.

    • mike

      I respect Billy Graham who said “it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and our job to love”. And someone else said: “Tell me how much you know of the sufferings of others and I will tell you how much you have loved them.” And so I am learning not to dispense verses like pills but instead to find out what God is doing in someone and how to cooperate with that but in the meantime to love them unconditionally without judging them.

  • Scott Shields

    I have been struggling with sin sometimes willfully, knowing my sin has kept me from proper relationship with Jesus. I’ve questioned any hope of salvation because of my wicked thoughts and behaviors. The wanting to obey Him and my own hypocrisy of not. A few days ago I just realized that I couldn’t live a double minded life anymore and I’ve come to the realization it’s now or never and I have a lot to repent for. I feel miserable and sick inside realizing the depth of my sins. It’s not that I question if I’m saved. It’s been a question can I even be saved, have I gone to far, hurt so many people. But I end the cycle of disobedience. I pray for understanding and hope. I pray that Jesus will forgive me and teach me to do things right. I pray that there is hope for a sinner like me. Thank you for posting this