I wrote last week about whether a person can lose their salvation. What we learned was that the Bible addresses the question with far more complexity than we do. Today, I want to address a related but slightly different question, “What do I do if I’m worried that God won’t forgive me or save me?” Maybe you’ve put your trust in Jesus and prayed for forgiveness, but you’ve done things that make you doubt. Or you’ve become worried about the future. You fear coming to the end of your life only to find out that you’re one of the people of whom Jesus says, “I never knew you; depart from me,” (Matthew 7:23). The following are four questions you can ask when you find yourself in that position.
1. Are there sins in your life that you’re refusing to deal with?
For someone who is worried about whether God forgives them, it may seem like a strange place to start by asking about the sin in their life. But God tries to warn people rather than reassure them when they are resisting His will in their lives. If you’re having sex with someone who isn’t your spouse or given over to pornography or overcome with greed or discontent, the Holy Spirit is going to bring conviction of sin not reassurance of salvation. If that’s you, repentance may open the door to assurance in your relationship with God.
2. How connected are you in the fellowship of your local church?
More and more people have a tendency to see church and their relationship with God as two separate areas, but the Bible says that they’re connected. In warning people of the danger of falling away from God, the author of Hebrews calls believers to “exhort one another” in order that they not be hardened by “the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-14). If you’re not involved in this kind of biblical fellowship, you’re vulnerable to Satan’s attacks and it’s only natural that you’ll be prey to doubt and uncertainty.
3. Are you taking time to hear from God in His Word?
In the Bible, Satan is referred to as “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10) because he sows doubt and speaks condemnation into the hearts of God’s people. Knowing this, God has provided “armour” to protect us through the Word of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). But if we don’t put on the armour by taking time to regularly read the Bible, we’re just left with Satan’s accusations and our own thoughts. Look to God’s Word for your reassurance and encouragement.
4. Have you trusted in Jesus period or Jesus too?
Many people know enough about the Bible to believe that Jesus saves but they often get confused in understanding what our part and what His part in salvation is. Many people believe in “Jesus too” – meaning they believe that God will forgive them if they have the right combination of their moral effort and religious faithfulness and Jesus’ death on the cross. The problem with believing in “Jesus too” is that people are always left wondering whether they’ve done enough on their part to earn their place on Jesus’ team. The Bible says that salvation comes by believing in Jesus period not Jesus too. There isn’t anything we can add to Jesus’ work on the cross. We can’t improve upon what He did. When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and so a person is forgiven as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9) through faith (Romans 3:28) on the basis of what Jesus did. If you’re feeling doubts about God’s forgiveness, could it be that you’re thinking that you have to earn part of your way into heaven?
God doesn’t want people to live their lives unsure of where they stand with Him. If you’re struggling with fears or worries in this regard, prayerfully consider the questions above and know that God wants you to know His forgiveness and love.
In awe of Him,