Monday, February 18, 2013

Why Believers Doubt Their Salvation

John 1:19-34 - John the Baptist. What a ministry!  What an office/calling,experience!!!
Many people repented because of the teachings of John the Baptist.

BUT....... later..... Matt. 11:2-3 - John sends to Jesus, "are you the one?"

Point:  Doubts will come, rise, occasionally overshadow even the greatest saints.

Others:  Moses (during the Exodus), Jeremiah (siege)  Disciples (cross) - had all kinds of doubts for three days.
Adam and Eve - (perfect setting, no sin, God's presence) - but began to doubt God's word, goodness, etc. surprise that you (Christian) might question your salvation.
(the above examples are NOT skeptics, agnostics but are believers, followers)

So, on one hand, we needn't be devastated by the fact that we question/doubt. 
However, needn't continue, needn't entertain these doubts without addressing them!!!  (dealing with them)

So, today.......Why Believers Doubt   (focus is doubting salvation.  Application can be much broader)  What causes this, what can be done about it.

What Causes Believers to Doubt?

We could (and will) list many reasons, but 2 reasons seem to encompass all the others:
IE:  1)  doctrinal deficiency
      2)  strong feelings
If address these two, pretty well address everything else.

I.  Doctrinal Deficiency = not knowing what God has said, done, promised, etc. - confidence comes when know who He is, what He does, His promises, His power, etc.
Rom.  10:17
Sound theology will settle the mind, put at ease.  Many doubts will dissipate.

Doubts diminish when scripture is known, understood, and embraced.  (doesn't mean they will disappear)
Cannot overemphasize the importance of knowing and understanding what's in God's Word.  Can't have a sure, solid based confidence without it.
May be able to drum up false faith, but that won't work.

II.  Strong Feelings
Un-met expectations
Experiential disappointment
Example:  John the Baptist - un-met expectations which led to doubts
Example:  Gideon - Judges 6:12-13 - experiential disappointment led to doubts

A.)  Feelings can be powerful and persistent.
BUT, they are NOT the measure of God's faithfulness. 
We are prone to follow our feelings in spite of what we know about God.

B.)    The feelings and experiences we long for are (apparently) beyond what God is willing to grant.  (on a general basis)   Only on rare occasions do we have those feelings and experiences we desire.
Deus Revelatus - the Deity who revels Himself.
But, is still
Deus Absconditus - the Deity who hides Himself

C.)  Experiences do not (necessarily) instill confidence. 
Example:  1st. generation in Exodus and Conquest - even after seeing all the miracles, they complained and turned back at the edge of the Promised Land.

Most other reasons are answered by these two.

Things I often hear.....

"I'm unable to identify the time and place" - Compare to natural birth - can you remember that?  Any question if you are really here?  The question is where do you stand with Christ today?
  Note to parents of young children accepting the Lord:  write it down for them!

"I wasn't counseled well".  Compare:  no pre-marital counseling, therefore can't have a confident relationship.
So....... get counsel, gain knowledge, move on!!!!

"My conversion  doesn't match others' stories"

"I keep repeating the same sins" - like Rom. 7:18-24??  - how unusual!

"I should be better by now" - no doubt you should, but, (example) - last year's tomato plants didn't produce much.  Makes me wonder if they really ARE tomatoes!!!

"I feel like I don't deserve to be saved." - Answer = you don't!  It's "by grace we're saved...."

"Other Christians don't seem to struggle like I do"
ASK & LISTEN - we're all in the same boat!!!  People need to know that others are struggling, too.

"I don't feel lovable, valuable, salvageable" - Called "inferiority complex"  (inherent and learned:  welcome to the club)
Anyone who is introspective has an inferiority complex.

"I just don't feel saved" - what's feeling go to do with it???

I seldom hear:  1) I've never asked Jesus into my life.
                        2)  I'm not sure God is faithful.
                        3)  I don't know if I can trust the Bible

Simple, yet powerful summary wrap up:

1.  Salvation is a (free, gracious) gift of God.   It cannot be earned, is not deserved - Eph. 2:8-9

2.  God wants you to have it (salvation and security in that salvation)
1 Tim. 2:3-4  2 Pet. 3:9
After repentance need to repent of failing to believe the promises of God.

3.)  If you ask (according to His terms) He'll respond.  HE IS FAITHFUL!!!!

Additional:  One more reason people doubt their salvation...........
Because ...... NOT SAVED!!!  haven't accepted, received, etc.
Doubts MAY be the work of the Holy Spirit!!

So.....take the 4-H test...
1)  Head test - have you decided?  committed?
2)  Heart test - do you have affections (for the things of God)?
3)  Hands test - your actions/lifestyle of obedience?
4) Health test - have you grown? - even a little bit

2 Cor. 13:5
Examine yourself - take the 4-H test.
If not 'in the faith' - address the issue, situation - get counseling, make the decision
If are 'in the faith' - stand there!!!

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