1. Paul Lee says:

    Being both fanatically obsessive and deeply introspective is not a good combination for having any sense of assurance about salvation. I guess I still blame “American Evangelicalism” for allowing me to believe as a child that saying The Prayer right mattered. I don’t remember whatever first time I said one of those prayers as a child, only the hundreds of times that I compulsively prayed different prayers from different tracts, trying to examine and re-examine my thoughts and motives at the same time. But I haven’t believed that I was “saved” as a young child for many years — at least since I had a big faith crisis when I was 17. If I’m saved at all, then God hasn’t given me the knowledge of when and how I entered this state of salvation in this life on this world—and He doesn’t have to give me that assurance, because my way of experiencing God might be different from someone else’s. My “testimony” doesn’t include a definitive “saved” moment, and I won’t participate in any ministry that forces me to pretend that it does.

    • Paul, this is why I find what has been called “the doctrines of grace” not only so biblical but so comforting. It emphasizes the sovereignty of God in salvation. He is the one who began the good work of salvation in His people, and He is the one Who will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6). And it also de-emphasizes the traditional evangelical emphasis on an obvious, black-and-white “salvation experience.” (This can be corrupted into a denial of the boundary between “saved and not saved.” But it need not be so corrupted.)

      This truth does not rule out “testing yourself to see if you are still in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). But this truth does put it in perspective. And it helps counter a limitless self-doubting that can occur among anxious Christians.

      (And I will assure you, all of us struggle with faith and salvation doubts. Yet Wise Christian teachers have said the struggle itself helps confirm true faith. Why would we care about being saved if God Himself were not giving us that desire to be saved, to reject sin and be reconciled to Him through Jesus?)

  2. Julie D says:

    When I was at college, one of my professors shared that while some people have ‘flash’ conversions, it can also be a process. And if it turns out when we get to heaven and discover that it happened later than we thought (ie, 12 instead of 8), oh well. I found that very, very, encouraging.

    The discipling portion of the Great Commission is neglected. I don’t think any believer would say that new believers should be ignored completely. But in practice, the discipling portion–Sunday school,  small group, etc–is dismissed as in-work, not a critical part of evangelism.

  3. Lisa says:

    Interesting! I was not raised in a Christian home, and although that is a considerable source of sadness for me, I have to confess I am kinda glad at times I was not. I grew up in a home that loved the arts, whose parents loved to read and read widely. I became a Christian as a young teen and right about that time, the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar” came out. I was absolutely thrilled to see Jesus on the big screen, and I loved the music. I saw that movie numerous times that summer, and it had an incredibly encouraging effect on my faith. It is still one of my favourite movies. As I look at it now, yes, I see all sorts of theological “issues” with it, and I imagine that at the time the Christian community was not happy with it, and probably discouraged their members from seeing it. Thankfully I was blissfully unaware of that, and God used that movie to bring me closer to Him. I often think about this when I encounter other book/films that Christians slam because they are not completely theologically correct. God can use anything to bring people to Him and to disciple His people, even theologically “off” stories. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t point out errors when we see them, but perhaps we need to be slightly less “freaked out” by them. In a more recent example, I loved the Noah movie, for many reasons, and God used it to deepen my faith and make me think about some things I hadn’t thought of before. I get why some people didn’t like the movie, but let’s not make these things the standard by which we judge other people’s faith or maturity if they do/do not go to a certain movie (or read a certain book) that “we” think might be slightly suspect.

What do you think?