As I work to study people and their view of Jesus, I generally come across three types of views that people have regarding themselves and their salvation:
1. Those who love Jesus but seriously doubt their salvation.
2. Those who don’t doubt that they’re saved but should.
3. Those who humbly and gratefully receive and acknowledge their salvation.
I’m feeling led today to talk a bit about these three views, and dispel some myths that people may have regarding salvation in general. Let’s start with that first view.
I Love Jesus, But How Could He Possibly Want Me?
I see this view of salvation often, and at one point suffered from it myself. People with this view often really do love Jesus, and they truly want to be saved, but they doubt that they could ever be worthy enough that God would accept them.
Well, guess what: you’re not worthy enough. Wait: let me re-phrase that. You are worthy enough – well worth it, in fact – but not because of yourself or anything that you’ve done. You see, people with this viewpoint often doubt their salvation because of a sinful past. They are well aware of the sometimes horrific sins they’ve committed, are suffering with guilt and self-condemnation because of them, and therefore assume that God could never, ever want anything to do with them, especially having them live forever in a perfectly beautiful eternity alongside Him.
People with this view, however, misunderstand how salvation occurs. There is no checklist of rights and wrongs, and those with more checks on the “right” side get in, and vice versa. I talk more about this in my book, Moving Mountains: Keys to Prayer that Works, but I’ll give you a brief summary here.
The opportunity for salvation arose not because of what you did, but because of what Jesus did. Yes, you have a part to do, but Jesus is the one through whom salvation occurs. Jesus’ choice to follow through with His Father’s instructions to die on the cross and be raised from the dead is what allowed salvation to occur in the first place. You see, Jesus’ sacrifice was a game-changer. That one event now allows God to see you through the rose-colored glasses of His perfect Son: Jesus Christ.
One of my roadblocks to being assured of salvation was that I thought my past sins were too terrible to possibly be forgiven for. As I sat one night, lamenting over this issue, the Lord spoke to my heart. He said:
Are you saying that My beloved Son’s death and resurrection on the cross isn’t enough? That it isn’t good enough to wipe away your sins?
I was shocked, stunned and humbled beyond belief. I had never looked at it that way before! You see, my focus was on me, when it should have been on Jesus. Salvation was possible for me, and is possible for you, because of what Jesus did, not because of what we didn’t do or did do.
So if you’re struggling with wondering if you are worthy of salvation because of how “rotten” you are, don’t. Just know that, because of Jesus, God sees you as His perfect, beloved child.
Of Course I’m Saved!
However, there’s another side to this coin: the person who, though they “believe” in Jesus Christ, they are not walking how He calls us to walk, yet they are entirely confident that they’re “in”, often simply because they’re “good people.”
Let me tell you something about the “I’m a good person” theory: Mother Teresa herself would have gone to hell, good works and all, had she not made Jesus Christ the Lord of her life.
Yeah, I know you’re in shock and disbelief right now that I would even say such a thing, but it’s true.
This point – the one about :good people” going to hell too, is a hot button with unbelievers. They don’t understand how a “supposedly good God” would “send” decent people to hell. Well, let me help explain that for you.
First of all, what is good? Look at the “good” people in your life. Maybe they haven’t murdered someone or robbed a bank, but have they stolen office supplies at work? Eaten grapes at the grocery store as they walked through the aisles? Have they gossiped about someone? Have they lost their temper and gotten angry? Have they ever thought lustfully about another person that wasn’t their spouse? Have they ever selfishly put their needs and wants before those of their spouse? Have they ever been mean to another person?
All of these sins, in God’s eyes, are just as bad as murder and robbery. We often compare ourselves to people “worse” than us, but try comparing yourself to a God and to a Jesus Christ who have never, ever, not once, committed a single sin, and you’ll find that you fall FAR short of being “good”. In fact, Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means me, and that means you, and those assuming that they’re “in” based on their own good deeds or lack of bad deeds are in serious danger of going to hell, because a heart that thinks it’s “good enough” on its own accord to enter into eternal life alongside a perfect God is a heart that has serious pride issues.
I’m not saying this to condemn anyone. Quite the contrary, in fact. It breaks our Lord’s heart that people, because of the deception of pride, end up in hell. God wants no one in hell except Satan and the demons that chose to take Satan’s side.
1 Timothy 2:4 tells us that God “desires all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
What is that truth? It’s the truth that, on our own accord, we are not good people. But with Jesus, we are perfect in His sight.
“But, I do believe in Jesus.” Well, that’s nice, but even Satan believes in Jesus, and he’s bound to hell forever.
So what do you have to do to be saved? Most all of us know what John 3:16 says:
For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
However, the Bible needs to be taken in its entirety. So for more clarification on salvation, let’s go to 1 Corinthians 15:1-2. Here, Paul tells us:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
Believing in vain means that you “believe” the word, but don’t hold fast to the instructions in it.
One who wants assurance of salvation must make Jesus the Lord of their life. In other words, that person “seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” instead of seeking first their own wants and desires.
When I look at the so-called body of Christ, I don’t see a whole lot of people seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. I see them acting a lot like the “world” and yet coasting on what they assume is their salvation because they go to church every week.
Again, I’m not saying this to condemn anyone, but simply to give the body of Christ a huge wake-up call. Going to church every Sunday and taking a part in a few – or even a lot – of ministries will NOT – I repeat: will NOT get you into heaven.
God does not condemn us to hell: we choose hell by rejecting Jesus Christ and His Father, God Almighty. You can’t plan a trip to Florida, but refuse to look at the map and head to New York, and then be angry with the mapmaker when you end up in New York instead of Florida, where you really wanted to go.
Does that kind of a plan make sense? No, it doesn’t, but this is what the majority of people do.
Instead of letting God lead them and letting Him love them and guide them onto the best path for their lives, they reject God and choose their own way, which, by default, is Satan’s way. Then they’re angry at God because they’re on a path to hell. If you want to get to heaven, then take the road to heaven. It’s that simple. But God won’t force anyone to take that road: this is the concept of free will.
You can’t choose God one day a week and then choose Satan’s path the other six and assume that you’re “in”. That’s kind of like meeting with the person you’re having an affair with one day a week but thinking you’re a good spouse because you spend most of your time with your true husband/wife.
Instead of assuming that you’re a good person because you’re not as bad as the criminals featured on 48 Hours and Dateline, try setting a higher standard for yourself. Try comparing yourself to Jesus and His life as outlined in the 4 gospels instead.
Then try and convince yourself you’re “good enough”. And when you learn that you aren’t, choose to change your life and learn how to live in a way that will truly bring you joy by making the Word of God your life’s work.
You Can Have True Assurance of Salvation if……
So, how can you be truly assured of your salvation? You can be truly assured of your salvation once you come to the stark and true realization that, without Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life, you have nothing. And by choosing, after that realization, to truly make Jesus the Lord of your life. To have a real and true relationship with Him: one in which what He says guides your daily decisions instead of what you want guiding your daily decisions.
One you have, in your heart, truly made Jesus Christ the Lord of your life, your boss, your “main Man”, and once you are truly seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness above everything else that you do, knowing that salvation begins with Him and not with you, then you will have in your heart the assurance that you are indeed saved.