Charlie Riggs (1916-2008) worked for the Navigators before joining BGEA in 1954, eventually serving as director of counseling and follow-up from 1957-88 while also serving as Crusade director for many meetings. At his passing, it was said that he had taught more people how to share their faith in Christ than anyone who had ever lived.
As Christians, we should be able to say that we are resting on certainties, not on chance. We don’t know the day or the hour of Christ’s return, but we do know He is coming to take us to be with Him forever. That is a comfort and certainty we share.
Through the Bible, God also has given us—as the famous hymn says—“blessed assurance” about our salvation. Assurance is confidence in a guaranteed fact. God wants us to be sure, and He has given us Scriptures telling us with absolute certainty that we can know we have eternal life through Jesus Christ.
There are times when some Christians doubt their salvation and whether they will go to Heaven when they die. Through my work with BGEA, I have personally counseled many people with this issue, and I have discovered several causes.
A person may not be truly born again
Many people claim to be Christians. They go to church, read the Bible, pray and say they believe in God, but they have never truly repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They need to acknowledge their need for Christ and receive Him into their hearts by faith.
Satan tries to cast doubt
Our adversary hates to see people trust Christ and seeks to confuse God’s children. Don’t let him cause you to doubt your salvation if you truly know Jesus Christ.
Confusion about works and grace
We are not saved by what we do. Some people apparently feel that Christians should be perfect. The Apostle Paul’s testimony dispels that untruth:
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:15-17).
We must never forget that every believer has an old nature and a new nature. The old carnal nature with which we were born will give us trouble until we die. Through the new nature we learn to reject the old nature. The Bible says:
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Galatians 5:16-17, NKJV).
When we give in to our old nature and sin against God, the Bible has this promise and provision: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
New Christians, especially, can have questions about their salvation. I once called a man who had received Christ and asked whether his commitment had made any difference in his life. He replied, “Yes and no. I thought now that I’m a Christian the battle should be over, but I seem to be worse than ever.”
In reality, the battle is not over; it has just begun. Jesus is the only one person who ever lived a perfect life. We should not judge our eternal standing based on our behavior, good or bad.
Ephesians 2:8-9 puts the matter in perspective: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
I cannot earn His grace, nor do I deserve it. I thank God every day for His willingness to look beyond my imperfections and see the potential that I can be used for His glory.
Unfamiliarity With Scripture
People may lack knowledge of the Scriptures or fail to take God at His Word. Surveys indicate that most Christians average no more than a few minutes a day reading the Bible and rarely do any in-depth study of the Scriptures. No wonder there is so much doubt among Christians today!
The antidote we need is found in Bible passages assuring us of eternal life through Jesus, including:
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11-13).
We don’t have to wonder or guess about our salvation. We can be certain. What a comfort! Through repentance of sin and faith in Christ, we have an indestructible home reserved for us in Heaven.
Another promise of assurance reveals that God’s love is everlasting: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
Write these promises out, read them in your devotions and let the Holy Spirit use them to minister to you 24 hours a day to help you walk in full assurance.
Scripture passages taken by permission from the Holy Bible, New King James Version. Adapted from “Learning to Walk With God,” by Charlie Riggs. ©1986, 1988 Charlie Riggs.