How to be sure

One of the biggest struggles Christians face is that of assurance.  Confidence that we are "in".  It seems to be particularly acute for those who have been raised in the church.  Verses like Matthew 7:21-23 ("Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.") can be really frightening.  We wonder, how much of His will do we need to do to be sure?

I have talked with many dear sisters who worry that they will find themselves in this rejected group come Judgment Day.  In fact, I personally have "accepted Jesus" hundreds of times...just to be sure...just in case I hadn't "meant it" enough the other times.  (BTW, I was raised in the church and I promise you that it really rattles some folks that I cannot confidently "pin down" the date of my conversion!!!)  

I have counseled lots of folks who, like my own self, have spent hours wondering if they have done "enough", believed "enough", or really understand "enough" for their salvation to be for sure.  This problem has been around for a long time...longer than you and me...the Apostle John addressed this same issue in his letter (1 John ).  Throughout that epistle, he seeks to reassure the Church that their salvation is secure, to give them confidence that they are indeed "in Christ".  Apparently, John is aware that many of his readers were experiencing the same worries that are around today.

So, what are we to do?  How can we know?  Does God want us to know?

Let me strongly assert that the last thing I want to do is to give anyone false security.  I don't want any reader to think that "praying a prayer" one day when they were 5 is their ticket to Heaven.  I believe that there are lots of folks that count on this as some sort of fire insurance don't really trust in Christ at all.  And that is cause for concern.

But I also believe that lots and lots and lots of precious brothers and sisters are tossed about by doubt that prevents them from approaching God with confidence, from living in the joy of being loved, and from victory over sin.  To those dear ones I suggest the book of 1 John, especially chapter 3, verses 19-24:

 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

I believe with all my heart that God wants those who belong to Him to know it for sure.  As in, don't I want my children to know they are mine??  Of course I do!  I am proud that they are mine and I want them to know it!! So, can we know?

Instead of looking back at some past event of our own (which can make us wonder if it was "for real"), instead, look at what we are currently trusting in.  Our own behavior....or what Jesus did FOR us with His death and resurrection.  That's what Scripture means in 2 Corinthians 13:5 -
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

As I close today, I close with the prayer that you will have knowledge of the Truth -- if you are falsely assured, that He will convict you and that your eyes will be opened, turning you from darkness to light.....and if you are wrongly accused, that He will comfort you, and you will become confident of your place in Him.