“Am I Really Saved?”

You know, I think I’ve lost count of the number of times that other people have asked me that question – “Am I really saved?” It seems to come up in conversation a lot, particularly as I’m often in conversation with people who are struggling to give up deeply sinful behaviors, lifestyles that run contrary to a regenerated heart. The truth is, I have lived through seasons when I asked myself this question, too, particularly during those times when my heart attitudes, spoken words and actions don’t match up with the faith that I profess.

And yet, I never get tired of hearing people ask this question.

An individual’s ability to put voice to this doubt indicates that the person is at least still interested in the eternal state of his/her soul. Whether any individual is truly saved or not rests fully and finally in God’s hands, of course, but I find asking this question an encouraging piece of evidence. After all, the real danger reveals itself whenever someone stops asking themselves this question and loses all interest in following Christ.

I really can’t think of a more pivotal issue for faithful Christian living than having settled the matter in our hearts that we do, after all, truly belong to Christ, and that therefore all the manifold promises of God apply to us. I seem to run into this issue all the time in the context of the ministry work that I do for The Crossing. As someone is being called, for example, away from a lifestyle of sin and rebellion, more often than not they are struggling with the question of, “Why?”

  • Why am I suddenly interested in living my life free of drugs?
  • Why do I feel guilty for doing the same things I’ve been doing, guilt-free, up to now?
  • Why won’t God deliver me from this debilitating heart condition?
  • Why didn’t my desire for God “kick in” before all of this happened?

These are not two-bit questions, either; lives typically hang in the balance, and so we can all be exceedingly grateful that the work of regeneration in the human heart does not ultimately depend on us. Thank God that He will call and regenerate absolutely every single person that belongs to Him (John 10:25-30, Romans 8:29-30). In other words, while I may have the great privilege to participate in His plan for salvation, He does not ever “hand over the reins” of ultimate control to any of us.

It’s this very truth – that we do not ultimately have control over our own salvation or sanctification – let alone anyone else’s – that often creates in us such a need to ask these “Why?” questions. Because we don’t understand God’s plan and perfect timing, I often find that we are tempted to throw up our hands and assume defeat, rather than continuing to pray to the Lord on our own behalf (or for another), for that peace regarding the assurance of salvation.

Given that there is no way to state definitively whether or not someone truly belongs to the Lord, I would nevertheless say that someone living in perpetual sin gives evidence that they do not belong to God, no matter what they might say. “You will know a tree by its fruit.” (Matthew 7:17-20)

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow, in which He encourages his followers to pray without ceasing for our own souls and the souls of others. If we lack assurance of our own salvation, we should repeatedly ask that God give us His peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), If we are troubled by the profligate lives and complete lack of interest in Jesus demonstrated by friends and relatives, we are to pray for them over and over again, with the assurance that our prayers do mean something and are taken seriously by God.

Yes, the absence of fruit in the life of someone we have prayed for over and over can be discouraging, and perhaps another’s dry season becomes the rationale we use for ceasing our prayers for them: “I’ve prayed for this person for years, and they haven’t changed.” I know I have certainly been guilty of giving up in impatient frustration at times! But I would suggest that this is exactly when we need to remember Jesus’ call to us to ask persistently. Trusting His good timing, we need to leave room in absolutely everyone’s life for the Spirit of God to work powerfully; we should never give up on anyone, no matter how wicked they may be nor how long they have been at it.

It may just be that part of God’s perfect plan in our prayers for an unbeliever include the sanctification and regeneration of our own hearts.

Luke 18:1-8 (ESV)
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

A Puritan Prayer from “The Valley of Vision”

O God of the highest heaven,
Occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist they holy war;
manifest they mighty power,
and make me thine for ever.
Thou art worthy to be
praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favoured, clothed, adorned me,
when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That henceforth I may be salt of the earth
and a blessing to all.

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