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Doubting my salvation

In Secure in Heart you talk about a time where you doubted your conversion. As much as I try to have faith, I still go through times where I doubt my salvation as well. Certainly, I know I had nowhere near the understanding of the cross I have now or that I hear other people talk about when they share their conversion story. But I was desperate to be right with God and willing to do whatever I needed to do. Can you give me any thoughts on how to feel more secure in my salvation?

Robin's Response

First off, I’d encourage you to remember that conversion, like every other part of the Christian journey, isn't about perfection or even about having arrived. Instead, it is the beginning of a process—think of it as the seed of God’s love being planted in your heart.

This process includes growing in an understanding of our sinful nature and the depth of healing we need in our lives. Likewise, it's just the beginning of understanding the cross. Although I’ve been seeking God since I was 15 (and I just turned 50), I’m continually seeing new depths of my own sinfulness, as well as the power and beauty of what Jesus did on the cross.

Likewise, our salvation is not performance oriented. There’s not a scale of brokenness, repentance, and knowledge that God uses to measure our response against others to determine if we are saved. Salvation comes instead through surrender (just as you described) — fleeing to the cross and through faith in accepting God’s promises (Romans 6:1-7).

Why do we doubt then? I think for most of us, doubting our salvation comes in the context of a bigger struggle. For instance, in my case, our church leadership was under pressure due to the church’s struggles. As part of this ministry team, I didn’t know how to separate how the church was doing with how I was doing. Instead of finding perspective through God and his word, I just redoubled my efforts to perform. The more I tried to perform, the more inward I became. The more inward I became, the more others sought to correct me. The more they tried unsuccessfully to help me, the more I felt like a complete failure. I literally thought I was losing my mind.

I found myself asking: How could I be a Christian if I am so ungrateful? If I’m a Christian why am I struggling to change? Did I really understand the cross? I thank God that he gently brought me back around to the truth—that my salvation doesn’t depend on me, but rather on Jesus and the work he did on the cross.

Certainly, God’s desire (and mine!) is that I don’t continue sinning (1 John 3:6). But knowing that I am incapable of leading a sin-free life, he promises me an advocate—his Son—to speak on my behalf (1 John 2:1).

Now I see clearly that doubting my salvation was a symptom of a bigger problem—my insecure propensity to put my security in myself in times of difficulty. Satan was using a challenging time in my life to whisper in my ear his message that I couldn’t possibly be saved if I was struggling so badly. But the good news is that God also had big plans for this time in my life. God used this crisis, and even Dave and I getting out of the full-time ministry, to put me on a path to healing that continues to this day.

I think of Hebrews 7:24-25, “…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”

The Greek word for “lives forever” is paramenein. According to William Barclay’s commentary, this word has two meanings: 1) to remain in office, and 2) to remain in the capacity of a servant. Jesus is the complete Savior. He’s always in the office and he’s always standing by ready to serve us—giving us confidence in our salvation and in our ongoing relationship with God. Why is it so important that Jesus remains? Because that gives us confidence that we remain in him as well.

I’m so thankful that my confidence in my salvation isn’t in my own humility, my own understanding, even my own brokenness, but rather in Jesus as my perfect and my permanent high priest. And he saves me completely and continually as I come to God through him. (Amen!) This also gives me confidence and security to address the issues in my life head-on, knowing that I’m completed accepted by him (Romans 15:7).

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

Ultimately, doubts (of whatever variety!) are an opportunity to dig deeper with God and to put on the helmet of salvation and the shield of faith, so that we can “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Lastly, I’d suggest using the study guide in Secure in Heart as a place to go for help. As you keep seeking to replace Satan’s whispers with God’s truth, I think you’ll find that step-by-step you’re becoming more secure in every arena of your life.


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