HAVE you ever talked to a fellow church member about the most important subject you could possibly discuss his salvation? I£ you have, then you may have noticed that a great deal of uncertainty seems to exist about this topic. One of the greatest threats to the spiritual strength and progress of our church in sharing the gospel with the world is that so many within the church are uncertain about their salvation.
When asking people about the matter, one will often hear comments like the fol lowing: "Well, I really hope I am saved." Or, "I surely want to be saved." Or, "I wish I would be saved." Some even answer: "I am certainly working on getting ready to be saved."
All such attitudes about salvation reflect a deep and spiritually unhealthy lack of assurance. If a person does not know whether he is in a saved or unsaved condition at any given point in his experience, he is in trouble. Serious spiritual trouble. This uncertainty would reveal that not only the person's theology may be in danger of being incorrect but also that his relationship with God may be lacking.
The book Steps to Christ warns of the peril of this sort of uncertainty. "Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians." ---Page 48
Hoping, desiring, wishing, and wanting to be saved are not enough. It is essential for every man to know that he is in a saved condition. "Let none leave their safety for eternity to hang upon a peradventure. Let not the question remain in perilous uncertainty. Ask yourselves earnestly, Am I among the saved, or the unsaved?" --Testimonies to Ministers, p. 443.
You Can Be SURE
There need be no doubt here. We can have the surety of salvation and know this marvelous gift is ours.
The perishing sinner may say: "I am a lost sinner; but Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. ... I am a sinner, and He died upon Calvary's cross to save me. I need not remain a moment longer unsaved. He died and rose again for my justification, and He will save me now."--Selected Messages, book 1, p. 392.
The beloved disciple John, who knew the Master well, gives this assurance: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).
We not only can know, we must know whether we are in a saved or unsaved condition. There must be no uncertainty about this most important of all questions.
Why? Because we must believe we are saved before we can be saved! As with any other of God's promises, the promise of salvation and eternal life has to be accepted by faith before it can in reality be ours. The believing, the accepting, part comes first. Then and only then can the gift be given to us. If we do not accept it, it can never be ours.
The Bible story of Jesus' healing the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda illustrates this basic principle. The man was helpless. He had not used his legs for thirty-eight years. Christ stood by his side and said, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." The man might have thought a moment and said, "Lord, I like the sound of what you are saying. I really wish I would be healed. I have been wanting to be, and I hope someday I will be. I had my friends place me here by the pool so that I could work on getting myself healed. Someday the conditions will be right, and maybe I will be healed."
He could have listened to Jesus' command and then looked down at his wizened legs and said, "Lord, what you are offering me is just what I need, and if you will just put these legs back in shape so they look strong, I will be happy to try to get up and walk."
But the man at the pool said none of these foolish things. He had a real love for, and a real faith in, Jesus Christ. As soon as he heard the Master speak those words he believed it was possible for him to walk again. He stood to his feet and walked. He believed that what Jesus had told him was true. Then, and only then, because he first believed, was he given the power to walk.
Ellen White, in speaking of this incident at the pool, gives a tremendous insight into how salvation is to be ours now:
He [the sick man] believed Christ's word, believed that he was made whole, and he made the effort at once; he willed to walk, and he did walk. He acted on the word of Christ, and God gave the power. He was made whole. In like manner you are a sinner. You cannot atone for your past sins, you cannot change your heart, and make yourself holy. But God promises to do all this for you through Christ. You believe that promise. You confess your sins, and give yourself to God. You will to serve Him. Just as surely as you do this, God will fulfill His word to you. If you believe the promise believe that you are forgiven and cleansed God supplies the fact; you are made whole, just as Christ gave the paralytic power to walk when the man believed that he was healed. It is so if you believe it.--Steps to Christ, pp. 50, 51.
If a man has heard the Master's voice saying to him, "Rise, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved," and has not fully accepted and believed that voice, he is not saved!
There are no gray areas here. Every man must either accept or reject the Son of God. We either have a relationship with Him or we do not. We are either saved or unsaved. There is no place for uncertainty.
Many have the mistaken idea that they must fully overcome every sinful tendency and eliminate all temptations that are bothering them before they can be confident about their salvation.
Spiritual growth is essential. But before sanctification can take place, there must be justification. A saving relationship with God begins when one has surrendered him self to Him and accepted Him as his Saviour. He is granted the power to grow in every way to be like the Lord.
Emotions are another factor that too often cause uncertainty on this important matter of salvation. Many have the mistaken idea that to be in a saved relationship there must be some ecstatic and sublime feeling, some sort of emotional supercharging that will lift them from the drudgery of life into realms of bliss.
"But I Don't Feel Like I'm Saved"
Actually, feeling or the lack of feeling is a very unreliable criterion for revealing the real spiritual condition of a person.
God says: "Do not wait to feel that you are made whole, but say, 'I believe it; it is so, not because I feel it, but because God has promised.' " --Steps to Christ, p. 51.
We are not to look into our hearts for a joyful emotion as an evidence of our acceptance with Heaven, but we are to take God's promises and say, "They are mine. The Lord is letting His Holy Spirit rest upon me. I am receiving the light; for the promise is, 'Believe that ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them.'" --The Faith I Live By, p. 9.
What really matters is, Have we accepted Christ as our personal Saviour? Having done so, we are to believe we are in a saved relationship.
There are some prayers God will not answer at once and others He may answer negatively, for to grant the request would not be for the best. There is one prayer, however, that God is sure to answer and answer immediately because He has promised. That is the prayer of a man who asks for salvation sincerely and honestly and has the faith to believe that he receives it. The heavenly Father never says No to that kind of request.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).