There are a lot of people who are plagued by these questions. “Am I saved or am I lost.” “Am I in or am I out?”
The odd thing is, the people I am thinking of are people who have faith, are baptized, have repented of their sin, attend church, love God, read the Bible, pray, etc.
What is the issue?
They have been taught that so much of their salvation hangs on their own shoulders. I have heard people say that if you die with unrepented sin you will go to hell. So if you sinned and died right before you asked God to forgive you (even if you intended to but didn’t get there fast enough), you wouldn’t be forgiven. Unforgiven sin is then the pathway to eternity in hell.
I really don’t think that is how things work.
Salvation is much more sure than that for those who are in Christ because salvation hinges on the work of God (who is perfectly faithful) rather than on our work (who are not perfectly faithful). In fact, we are told to be sure of our salvation (1 John 5:12-13). How can we be sure if the process we believe in is so unsure?
God does the heavy lifting. Our role in the salvation process is all response. “When we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8
God always initiates things pertaining to salvation and we have to respond to what God has already done. When we respond in faith God does more (unites us with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection – Rom 6; seals us with the Spirit – Eph 1:13; etc).
The saying goes, “Exodus comes before Sinai.” That means God initiates the rescue, we do have to walk through the water to get out of Egypt and into the promised land. But none of it would be possible without God getting the ball rolling and using his divine power to work these things out in our lives. We must be willing to receive them.
One verse that helped break me out of neuroticism when it comes to my salvation is 1 John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
How is this even possible? I knew that if I sinned I wasn’t in the light. But what I hear from John is the reason I am in the light is because I am walking, even though imperfectly, and because the blood of Jesus purifies me of my sin!
This, folks, is freedom. Not freedom to do whatever I want but freedom to live my life knowing I belong to God and he isn’t going to let me go. It is freedom from the idea that if I die with a single unrepented sin that I won’t be saved.
This kind of spiritual and mental liberation helps me live in an even closer walk with God because I am not living in fear of a God who is waiting to get me, looking for any reason to throw me into hell. No. God is looking for any and every reason to allow me to live with him for eternity!
That is a shift! It is one that more of us need to make