If You Doubt Your Salvation, Then Just Go!

I know that there are many who struggle with assurance of salvation in their walk with Christ. A lot of times, this is simply because they are focusing on how they feel in the their walk and because they feel the overwhelming sense of sin, thinking that they are not saved.

The first problem can be overcome by looking back to Christ. It is in Christ that we have our assurance because He is the One who saves us. Our salvation isn’t based on anything we do, but on what He has done. By trusting and resting in the finished work of Christ, our assurance should return.

The second problem is more problematic because as we grow in Christ, we will grow in awareness of our own depravity. Again, the solution is fixing our eyes back on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Yes, we are wretched sinners and our awareness of this grows as we do spiritually. But in that process, we see the richness of His grace and mercy toward us.

But what if these two areas do not help? What are we to tell someone who still doubts their own salvation? What should we tell them?

This might come as a surprise, but if this is you, then just go ahead and leave the body of Christ. If you doubt that you are saved, throw you Bible away, and quit pretending you are saved. Quit going to church. Quit acting like you are spiritual. Leave Jesus and His children, you don’t belong.

The truth is, that if you do belong to Christ, and your problem is really just your lack of assurance, then by doing what I have just proposed will make it clear whether or not you are really one of His.

Remember that during Christ’s earthly ministry, there were a lot of people who doubted Him and their own faith, to the point that they left Him. He then turned to the disciples and asked them if they wanted to leave as well. Peter responded by saying, “Where else are we to go? You are the One with living words of life.”

This is exactly the same conclusion that many who struggle with assurance must come to. There is no other place to go. Christ is it. By coming to this point in our walks, we do see that we belong to Him and we want nothing else.

This little exercise helps us realign our walk with Christ, for it is all about Him, and He is to be the center of who we are. It is when we focus on ourselves, that our doubts arise.

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12 thoughts on “If You Doubt Your Salvation, Then Just Go!

  1. I don’t know, Timothy. It seems a bit odd. “Walk away … from the input of believers, the protection of God’s people, the accountability of the elect, the communion of the saints, the preaching of the Word, the rebuke and exhortation of God’s people, and the one thing you have in your hands that is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness and just see how you feel out there.” That seems something like, “Oh, you feel like you’re invulnerable? Well, then, go ahead and step out in the gunfight and see how you feel.” MAYBE he’ll survive and MAYBE he’ll figure out he’s not invulnerable, but only after much damage that wasn’t necessary.

    You’re right. Those who were not believers left Christ. Those who are not believers WILL leave Christ. “Those who were not of us went out from us.” It will happen, but I’m wondering about the wisdom of “Oh, so you’re not sure of your salvation? Well, then, quit trying.”

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    1. Stan, I think the point is that those who truly ARE in Christ CANNOT walk away. The Lord has carried me through the valley of doubting and fears many times in my life. Times of deep darkness and intense spiritual struggle where I doubted my faith. Often the only consolation that I found was the fact that no matter how black the darkness or how despairing the doubts I COULD NOT turn from my Savior and walk away. This inability confirmed His ability to keep me and I was able to rest in Him.

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    2. Hi Stan,
      I understand your concern, but I think my point does help. Simply put, can those who are His really walk away? I’ve been there many times, especially in the last 3 years, and I have to say while the flesh wanted to, the Spirit was overwhelming in keeping me “in Christ.” For me, it wasn’t assurance, but other things. For those with assurance issues, I’m confident that the Spirit will hold them right where they belong, for nothing can separated us from the love… well, you get the idea. Not even our own actions.

      Hope this helps.

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  2. Hi Timothy,

    Challenging post.

    For those who struggle with assurance, leaving church and being content away from church is not a definitive indication that they are unsaved. If they are saved, leaving church will likely put them to sleep and lead them deeper into the world’s culture and ideas. This in turn will result eventually in lots and lots of pain and suffering. Take it from one who’s been there.

    And when so much of the visible church is enraptured by the world, God help the believer. For he or she has nowhere to go for the things Stan rightly mentions: the input of believers, the protection of God’s people, the accountability of the elect, the communion of the saints, the preaching of the Word, the rebuke and exhortation of God’s people.

    What has helped some who struggle with assurance is Luther’s concept of “Law and Gospel”. Too much focus on God’s standard and our inability to keep it lead to despair and doubt. That’s the point of the law. It should lead all of us back to Christ and the good news. As you wrote:

    “He is the One who saves us. Our salvation isn’t based on anything we do, but on what He has done. ”

    If we care nothing about living right (antinomianism (apart from law)), we are not living the Christian life rightly. Something is terribly wrong.

    If we are incapacitated by our awareness of our overwhelming sinfulness, we are tending towards (legalism (salvation by deeds)) and not living the Christian life rightly. Again, something it terribly wrong.

    God help us – having believed – to stand.

    Alec

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  3. I doubt my salvation often. But I don’t doubt it because I think that I can earn it, or that I haven’t managed to earned it. I doubt it because I wonder if I was actually chosen. And I wonder if I’m chosen because of the things that I do… or maybe more to the point, because of the things I don’t do.

    As I read your article my mind went right to the John 6 passage you referenced. It is in the top five of my all time favorite passages. I can’t hardly read it without tearing up, when Peter asks, “To whom will we go?”. That is the 20 trillion dollar eternal question isn’t it? I realize I can’t leave nor do I want to. What I want is to be the best Christian that ever walked the face of the earth. But I’d be elated if I could be as good as some of the people I encounter in my walk, not because I think it will earn me anything, but because that’s who I want to be.

    But I think there is another sort of doubt too, a doubt that comes with the practice of sin. A person can begin to “look back” to that which he has left behind, and begin to dabble in his old worldly ways, and eventually decide that he still likes it, and which will begin to choke his “christian” walk. Doubt is sure to follow with a mindset of, “I love these sins so much, can they really be ‘wrong’?”

    Do you think it’s possible that there could be productive doubt verses a destructive doubt? One takes the fear of God seriously, and realizes that the stakes are eternally high, and the other goes down the road of “God loves me, so I can do as I please” until he begins to doubt if the God of Christianity and the Bible is the true God.

    A challenging post today sir.

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  4. Hi–

    To Alec in particular: I’ve recently come across Luther’s idea of ‘Law and Gospel’–how the Law shows us how utterly impossible it is to meet God’s demands, and how utterly depraved man is. And then there’s the Gospel: where Jesus has paid for ALL of our sin, and there’s nothing we can DO to earn salvation. It’s been an eye-opener for me. Especially having come out of a Roman Catholic background.

    I think some ‘doubt’ is inevitable, especially when one becomes more aware of their own sinfulness, apart from Jesus and His sacrifice. This might sound counterproductive, or perhaps counter-intuitive. But being aware of just how sinful one can become APART from Jesus keeps one from becoming self-righteous, or from thinking they’ve already ‘arrived’ at Christian maturity. It is a place I don’t want to be. And it’s taken me years to see this.

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  5. Phil Pockras

    I have been in a deep and horrifying assurance crisis many years ago while a college kid. Jesus ministered to me in many ways, teaching me through the experience that had “aftershocks” for a long time, and ultimately bringing me through and out. ONE of many ways He ministered to me was bringing me to see that I was unable to abide being without Him, as Tim is saying here. I *could* *not* leave. Even if I had to hang on for just crumbs from the children’s table, I would. I later came to see that, of course, I could do no such thing, for it was Jesus holding on to me all the while.

    In any case, this was one aspect of my experience. I haven’t thought of it in a long time — I’ve been a pastor for 35 years and change — but this was a blessed reminder of my Jesus being covenantally and graciously faithful to me and leading me through the valley of the shadow of everlasting death.

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  6. Richard Baxter’s quote (following) has been a comfort to me through the seasons of darkness when I have questioned the integrity of my faith. “Do I *really* believe the gospel of Jesus Christ? How do I know if I believe it sufficiently? What about the doubts that I struggle with?” And, in the end, like the father of the demon-possessed son, I cry out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
    From Baxter
    Certainty of our faith and sincerity is not necessary to salvation, but the sincerity of faith itself is necessary. He shall be saved that giveth up himself to Christ, *though he know not that he is sincere in doing it.* Christ knoweth His own grace, when they that have it know not that it is sound.
    An abundance are cast down *by ignorance of themselves,* not knowing the sincerity which God hath given them. Grace is weak in the best of us here; and little and weak grace is not very easily perceived, for it acteth weakly and unconstantly, and it is known but by its acts; and weak grace is always joined with too strong corruption; and all sins in heart and life is contrary to grace, and doth obscure it;…And how can any under all these hindrances, yet keep any full assurance of their own sincerity?
    *my emphasis

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