Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Part I - Why True Christians Doubt

There are a number of reasons why true Christians will doubt their salvation.

It is a lying and hellish manipulative tactic--that has victimized many in our culture--to say that any doubting of one's salvation equals lostness. Evangelists who have a greed for 'decisions' have taught that Satan would never cause a person to doubt his or her salvation because that very doubt just might lead him or her to excercise genuine saving faith in the Lord Jesus. The deceptive logic is now in place, right? Satan doesn't want people saved, so he will not foster doubt lest they become Christians. Therefore the false prophets teach, "Isn't all doubt from God? And isn't all doubt a clear indication that one needs to be saved?"

Because there are so many reasons that a true Christian will doubt his or her salvation, and blog-brevity is always advantageous, I will here limit myself to discussing three primary causes.
  1. Satan
  2. Sin
  3. Sanctification
First, a Christian may be experiencing doubts of his or her salvation because Satan--the 'Author of confusion'--wants to doubly paralyze the believer in his or her effectiveness. The two primary areas the Enemy hobbles us by doubt are (1) God-worship and (2) gospel witness. The doubting Christian is prone to spend more time focusing on self -- "Am I saved," than on God. He is also highly unlikely to be "proclaiming throughout the earth abroad the wonders of Christ's Name," because, after all, he isn't so sure if he should be preaching to others if he's not so sure he's right with his Master. See the paralysis?

It is unlikely that any of us have come into contact with Satan himself. Remember, Satan is not God's evil opposite. No. Just like everything that is not God, Satan is a creature. He was created. God is uncreated. Therefore, Satan does not have any divine attributes. He is not omnipresent. Satan is a real creature, but he is limited. We are no match for him. But he is no match for God. Satan stations himself wherever he supposses he can have the most negative influence. It is highly unlikely that I am the most strategic target in his futile war on God's glory, and most likely, neither are you. Satan is in one place at one time. Only God is everywhere at the same time. However, Satan does have an evil network of demons. Perhaps they are assigned by Satan to each Christian, to torment us, tempt us (but, remember, most of our temptation comes from our own depravity--James 1:14-15), and to do anything within the limits of God's permission (see here, and here) to cause us to forsake our Savior. One source of doubing salvation for a real Christian is Satanic attack.

Second, and obviously, sin is a source of doubt for the real Christian. Think about it. What if God were to lavish assurance on the soul of an unrepentant Christian? Where would the wooing toward a lifestyle of holiness come from? Exactly, it wouldn't. If someone can live in sin, and not be miserable, then that one is no Christian at all. So, of course, unconfessed and unforsaken sin is a major cause of doubt in the lives of many Christians. But we must not make the same mistake as Job's friends, or Jesus' disciples, supposing that every troubles is a direct consequence of sin. That's where we turn to a third source for doubt...

Third, and less obvious, sanctification can be a source of doubt for the real Christian. Sanctificaiton? Yes. Think with me again. Upon genuine conversion, a new babe in Christ is enamored with all that God is for him in Christ Jesus. New categories exist for the new creation in Christ! He is full of love to God. But, in all likelihood, he is still very ignorant of the grandeur of the Triune Person of God. Though repentant, he might only be aware of a smidgen of his wickedness, a fraction of his inordinate self-worship, and barely a tinge of how great a salvation that God has provided for those who love Him. But as is always the case in true Christian conversion, the seed of justifying faith begins to anchor deep roots in the soul and before long, will bud into a tree of sanctifying graces. As Christian growth progresses, so may doubt. A greater knowledge of God could lead to unexpected dispair. Just then, the young Christian wonders to himself or herself, "How could I have even been a real Christian, had real love for God, and not known this about Him?" Take heart true believer, this growth is good evidence that you have been purchased by Christ! If you love Christ and obey His commandments, then buckle your seat-belt because He has promised to reveal more of Himself to you in progressive degrees until you one day see Him face to face!


Jeremy Whitten said...

I appreciate this look of "Why Christians Doubt" and am looking forward to future posts and comments. I've doubted my salvation in the past but only because I used to struggle with giving my testimony. I was never sure of the "time & place" of my salvation "experience". Hearing other people's testimonies made me think that I too must have a detailed story full of drama. If people were completely honest, I'm sure other folks would be a little confused as to the "whens and wheres" of their saving encounter with God. This issue should be addressed as well; because this uncertainy can cause just as much doubt and idleness as those who doubt their salvation. I think its important for people to know "why and how" they were saved and not be so consumed with a detailed story of when they "nailed it down". The popularity of "decisional regeneration" does a lot of damage in this area as far as I'm concerned. It wasn't until I seen "the bigger picture" of God's sovereign grace that I had more confidence and assurance of my salvation testimony. God's grace (favor) is my only assurance. Having been saved most of my life (I think ?). It's the only thing I can cling to! I just wish Jonathan Edwards could have finished his work of "The History of Redemption". I think it would have addressed this problem.

Cam said...

While certainly some of this may be true I would have to still point out one reason you left out.Maybe they are really lost and are not true christians.I had plenty of doubts after I prayed a prayer when I was a child and used every answer I could think of.But I had no evidence of salvation in my life,other than the fact I believed in the Bible.But we know that the Bible doesn't save people, Jesus does.

Also,I don't believe in nailing it down I find that to be a false hope for many doubting lost christians.I can find no where in the Bible that people are saved other than a work of the Holy Spirit or Jesus himself at an exact point and time.To not know when you met the God of the Universe or when he forgave your sins and say that we are saved over a period of time other than an immediate quickening of the Holy spirit is a complete mystery to me and completely unbiblical.

The Bible speaks of a common salvation and while not every one has exactly the same testimony all testimonies should have examples of Godly sorrow,Repentence,and Faith towards God.

Maybe True Christians don't doubt.In 2 corinthians Paul says examine yourself that you be in the faith.That was to the whole church.Maybe True christians question themselves then they look at and it just makes them stronger in there faith. I think it is very careless one way or the other for us not beg people to examine themselves for it is a question of eternity.

Jeremy Whitten said...

In response to Cam's comment, I must say that by not knowing for sure "when I was saved" does not mean that I haven't experienced a work of grace. I can point to several instances in my past when I thought God's grace was at work in my heart. I don't know "for sure" when I was born-again? Many of Jesus' parables compared our saving work to a "growing seed". I think a process can be implied with those teachings. Mark 4:26-27 "So is the Kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the SEED SHOULD SPRING AND GROW UP, HE KNOWETH NOT HOW. Also Jesus' encounter with Nicodemus suggests that being born-again and experiencing the "new birth" is a mystery as far as the time and place. John 3:8 "The wind (holy spirit) blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but DO NOT KNOW where it comes from and where it is going, so is EVERYONE who is born of the Spirit". Also, Paul's "conversion" experience is never finalized in an exact time and place as far as I can biblically discern. His "Road to Demascus" experience is credited for the time and place of his conversion. But a closer look at the story suggests that a saving work was being done much sooner than that. In Acts 9:5 he responds to the Lord's appearing when he says "Who are you, Lord? (how would Paul know he was hearing from Jesus if he hadn't already been given the grace to acknowledge him as Lord? Also the KJV adds in verse 5 when Jesus tells Paul "It is hard for you to kick against the pricks" (basically saying, that Paul has up to this point been ignoring and resisting the call of salvation over a period of time). Could it be that Paul was born-again then "converted" on the road to Demascus? I won't say I can answer this question for sure. It remains a mystery to me. I think there's room for mystery and the sovereignty of God. There's also room for seeking and finding. I don't think anyone can truly seek if there hasn't already been a work of grace.(call it quickening, wooing, or whatever, a work of grace is a work of grace) I'll close with a quote from Jonathan Edwards(who never gave a time and date of his conversion, but rather a series of workings of grace over several periods of his young life,it wasn't until he embraced and understood God's soveriegnty did he have complete assurance of saving faith)....."Just because a person can go into detail about their salvation experience, telling a coherent, chronological story, that this proves anything. Being able to tell a good story doesn't mean that their experience is any more real, but it does help us to decide that their story seems believable. STILL, Scripture NEVER insists that a person outline their salvation testimony in consecutive steps. Other things(fruits of the spirit) are VASTLY more important and essential". J. Edwards - Religious Affections.