2nd Corinthians 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Philippians 3:9, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
A hurting man has been emailing me in recent months. He is struggling with sin in his life, both past and present. According to his testimony, he has done horribly sinful things in his past, so much so that he is finding it hard to believe he is saved. I have exchanged a few dozen emails with him, recommending free online books, sermons, Gospel tracts and other helpful resources to guide him along. Mostly, I have encouraged him to spend a lot of time meditating in the King James Bible. Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If you are struggling dear reader with any type of faith based issue, I highly recommend that you get into the Word of God. All of the modern Bible revisions are corrupted by the Devil, so I only use and recommend the inspired King James Bible.
I also gave the man I mentioned a few dozen Scripture passages, kindly suggesting that he commit them to memory to help him combat his doubts. As we just read in Romans 10:17, faith comes by hearing God's Word. That is also a big reason why it is very important that you and I, and every born-again believer, attend a solid Bible-believing church in your local community. Sadly, there are a lot of junk churches today, especially in the United States. You never know what to expect when you walk into a new church. So be on guard. Just be friendly toward everyone, humble, and go see what the church is about. Here is a list of Baptist churches near you (more).
It is normal to feel a bit awkward and strange for the first few visits. It is important that you feel comfortable overall being there. Just give it some time. It is very important that the pastor preaches a free grace view of the Gospel, and not the demonic junk called Lordship Salvation (LS). LS basically teaches that faith is not enough to get to Heaven. In addition, you are told that you must turn away from your sinful behavior, surrendering “all” to Christ, in an exchange of all that you are for all that Jesus is. LS is a toxic poison which has contaminated many churches today, turning once great churches into deadly religious cults. Please RUN AWAY quickly from any church, if you hear the pastor saying that you cannot merely accept Jesus as your Savior to be saved, but also, in addition, he says we must watch to examine that person's life for awhile to see if they're really saved. That is not the saving Gospel of free grace, not by a longshot, it is a works-based type of counterfeit salvation.
Getting back to the man I mentioned, I also sent him a link to my 42 chapter book called: 'SALVATION' to share my own testimony and truths which the Lord has taught me in my Christian life. I kindly sent him internet links to hundreds of helpful Bible sermons about salvation. Some of the best and most helpful salvation sermons you can share with others is on YouTube by Pastor Ralph 'Yankee' Arnold. Yet, despite all these helpful resources they guy emailed me back in desperation, saying that he needs me to pray for him that God will force him to believe, because he just doesn't have any faith that Christ will save him because of his wickedness.
I get emails like this from time to time, and they are always easy for me to deal with. They are easy for a few reasons. First, God has blessed me with an excellent understanding of the Gospel. I had great teachers (Dr. Jack Hyles, Evangelist Harry Ironside, Pastor Ralph Yankee Arnold, et cetera). Second, the Gospel is simple. The Bible calls the Gospel “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4). Men always complicate things, but God made salvation simple. The Lord needed to keep salvation simple, because there are a lot of ignorant and base type of people in the world who cannot grasp complicated things. God is a good, fair and reasonable Creator. You cannot outdo God friend, He knows what He's doing.
Unfortunately, the man has persistently written back to express his religious scrupulosity, afraid that he is not saved, worried about going to Hell, asking me to pray for God to save him. I kindly responded by letting him know that I cannot pray for what he is asking. I do not have the right, nor is it proper biblically, to ask God to save someone. There is only one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1st Timothy 2:5-6). I did however let him know that I did pray for God to give him knowledge and wisdom to help him understand the truth of the Gospel. I have explained the Gospel to him multiple times. But it doesn't matter what I say, because he is focusing on himself instead of Christ concerning salvation.
I didn't write this blog article to criticize the man in question; but rather, to help others who may be in a similar situation. It is my privilege to help others for Christ, so I maintain a humble spirit. Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Friend, I cannot save you. No Catholic priest or Lutheran minister has the right nor power to forgive anyone's sins. Jesus is the only Mediator between God and men. Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
When I send several dozen resources (books, sermons and tracts) to a person who is struggling to settle the assurance of salvation, and they persist to tell me that they just don't feel like they are saved, then it becomes clear to me that they are either:
- LAZY - They're not reading the books and sermons, nor listening to the sermons I have shared with them. Ninety-nine percent of the time, when people cannot get it settled after I help them, they never tell me about truths they read or learned from the resources I have kindly shared with them. Literally, some people would rather worry than study. They are lazy. For whatever reason they won't help them self by studying. What did Jesus say? John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Dear friend, if you are struggling to know you are saved, the answer is IN THE SCRIPTURE! I can show you Bible verses all day, but until you apply yourself to understand God's Word, you won't settle anything. People write to me and want me to tell them that they are saved, but I cannot and will not do that. You need to KNOW that you are saved based upon the written PROMISES of God in His Word. Jesus said to SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!!!
- LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE - They are focusing on them self instead of Christ. When Moses formed some brass into the shape of a serpent, the Israelites were told to LOOK AND LIVE. Because of their complaining God sent fiery deadly serpents (snakes) among the people to bite them. God instructed Moses to hold up the brass serpent on a pole, and whosoever LOOKED to the serpent LIVED. That serpent symbolized Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God Who chose to became as sin for you and me, to redeem us from the consequences of sin in Hell (2nd Corinthians 5:21). John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Get your mind off yourself concerning salvation. Your attitude toward your sins has nothing to do with getting saved, except that you acknowledge being a guilty sinner in the sight of a holy God (Romans 3:19-20). You and I contribute NOTHING to our salvation except the SIN that made it necessary.
- THEY HAVE OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) - OCD is a mental disorder, and no amount of Bible knowledge is going to help them short term. If a person is a worry wart, then their problem is psychological. The only advice I have for such a person is to bath your mind, heart and life with the King James Bible. Listen to Bible preaching every day. Every believer should attend a local Bible-believing church. I understand that there are many junk churches today, and not everyone has a good sound church to attend. But most people who email me with a bunch of problems DON'T go to church at all, nor do they desire to go. We all need fellowship with other believers, to encourage, comfort, love and help one another. There are several helpful website for people with OCD concerning assurance of salvation. I can help people who are ignorant of the Bible, but I cannot help people who refuse to trust Christ in lieu of the plain truth set before them.
Dear reader, please don't be scared off if you have any Bible questions for me. As long as you have Bible questions I CAN help you. But when you write to me, after all the truths I have shared with you, and tell me that you just don't trust Christ and you don't know why, I cannot help you any further. When a man tells me that he doesn't trust Jesus, and asks me to pray for God to force him to believe, I have nothing else to say to him. What do you mean you don't believe, but want to believe, and want me to pray for God to save you? I mean, you either believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, the Christ, or you don't. You are either wholly relying upon Jesus, Who became the sacrifice for your sins on the cross, or you don't.
I kindly told the man that he is suffering from religious scrupulosity and is driving himself crazy by thinking too much. Salvation is so simple friend. Men always complicate everything. I understand what it feels like to have doubts, fear and cry in torment because I couldn't find the assurance of my salvation. But I never told God that I don't believe and don't know why. That is ridiculous. I always told God that I DO believe, but I still didn't FEEL like I was saved. I suffered for 7 miserable years as a lonely teenager, unable to find the sweet peace that I was saved. In hindsight, I learned many years later that I was simple ignorant of how salvation works. I had been misled by Baptist preachers my whole life, whole taught me to pray a prayer to get saved. That is the worst advice you can give an unsaved person, to pray to get saved.
I have had preachers rebuke me for teaching that prayer is not the Bible way to be saved. Folks, it is not the Bible way to be saved. Nowhere in the Gospel of John are we taught to PRAY to receive Christ as our personal Savior. In particular, respectfully, Pastor Steven Anderson (and those pastors who are die hard followers of his New IFB movement) are adamant about the necessity to pray to get saved. That is unbiblical. Don't take my word for it, study the Scripture for yourself. I triple-dog dare you to show me where the Bible commands anyone to pray to receive God's free gift of eternal life. You cannot! I say that kindly, but truthfully. We are saved simply by BELIEVING. John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”
Dear reader, Christ paid it all. Jesus paid your debt of sin and mine. Anybody who comes to God as a dirty guilty sinner, receiving Christ's sacrifice on the cross as payment for their sins, is immediately, irrevocably and permanently saved. Now, it is not wrong to pray a prayer at the time of salvation. In fact, it is natural for someone to desire to pray. That is fine to do. I am not saying that someone who prays and asks Jesus to save them is not saved. I believe that Pastor Anderson, and the other pastors who follow his leadership worldwide, are legitimately getting people saved. But I am saying that I personally went through several unnecessary years of confusion, worry and misery because I was focusing on whether I prayed right or left something out. I was trusting Jesus with all my heart. I know I was saved at age 13. But I was looking at the wrong thing to find assurance, and it misled me. Until you LOOK TO JESUS alone, and not worry about your part in salvation, you'll never find peace.
Being confused doesn't necessarily mean you are not saved (but it certainly could mean that too). It all depends on what you are confused about, and where your trust rests. I always trusted Christ 100% from the very moment I was saved. But I thought the way you trust Christ is by asking Him to save you through prayer. I came to eventually learn that we are saved simply by BELIEVING, and nothing else. Praying is not believing, but a person may pray because they believe, which is what I did (Romans 10:14). Focus on Christ alone concerning salvation. If your faith is in the GOOD NEWS of Christ crucified, buried and risen, you are saved according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-4.