Most people will have at some point in life a time where they doubt their salvation. For some, the doubt can lead to a deepening faith and stronger assurance that they are followers of Jesus. For others, the doubt is something God has placed in their lives to help them realize that they have never really trusted in Jesus and been changed. John wrote the letter we now know as 1 John to help people walk through this time. He states that he wrote the letter, “To you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” The sort of self examination that looks at oneself to be sure the faith he or she holds is real is commended in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 13:5, Paul says,
“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 you fail to meet the test.”
I have had numerous conversations with people who entered a time of doubt. Their desire was to be sure that their faith in Jesus was real, and that they could be secure about their eternal destiny. I am actually hoping that our journey through 1 John leads some to struggle with the assurance of their faith. These sort of struggles will lead some to trust Christ and will strengthen the faith of those who are already followers of Jesus. I also want to suggest what I believe is a fantastic resource for anyone in the midst of this sort of testing.
How Can I be Sure I’m A Christian? What the Bible Says about Assurance of Salvation by Don Whitney was written to guide people through a struggle with assurance. Whitney is the Professor of Spiritual Formation at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. He has written a number of very good books on the topic of spiritual growth and the disciplines of the Christian life. This book is short (around 150 pages) and easy to read. I believe the content will lead a person to examine his or her life in such a way that if he works through the book honestly, at the end he will have be sure of the character of his faith.
The best place to find this book is on Don Whitney’s website – www.spiritualdisiplines.org.