If it’s clear from Scripture how to become a Christian, why do some people later doubt their salvation?
The most famous doubter in the Bible is Thomas. After hearing that Jesus had appeared to the other apostles after rising from the dead, Thomas was incredulous. He said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my fingers where the nails were, and put my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25b)
Why wouldn’t Thomas believe? For one thing, he had forgotten the prophecy Jesus had made earlier that He would be killed and on the third day would rise again. Had he remembered those words and believed, all doubt would have vanished.
Many people have doubted their salvation in Christ. Most had never read the biblical reasons they can know for certain whether or not they are saved.
Notice Thomas’ philosophy of life was: “If I can see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, or hear it, then it’s real. If I can’t see, it’s not. Thomas had wrongly elevated his five senses above God’s own Word.
We live in a feelings-oriented society. “If it feels good, do it,” is the motto of the day. It’s no wonder, then, that many base the security of their salvation on their feelings.
Contrary to popular rumor, reality isn’t based on how we feel. Our eternal relationship with God cannot be based on feelings. Instead, we must base our salvation on the fact of the Finished Work of Christ on the cross and His empty tomb. If we know why we needed to be saved, and how we received salvation through faith, then we must continue to depend on what God’s Word says, not on our feelings.
God says we can and should know we have the gift of eternal life abiding in us:
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
Struggling with reoccurring sin in your life will be a major source of doubt.
The psalmist David admitted: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long…my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)
Disobedience in even a small area can rob a Christian of his or her assurance that “it is well with my soul.” When we allow sin to dominate our lives, it becomes a wedge driving us further away from a close relationship with Jesus Christ.
Sin and disobedience pull us away from any security and sense of well-being we ever had. Worse, many try to cover their sin, gloss over it, or pretend that “it is’t so bad after all.” Scripture, however, warns: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Prov. 28:13)
Our Identity in Christ:
Children of God 1 John 3:1
Righteous in God’s eyes 2 Corinthians 5:21
Justified Romans 5:1
Sanctified 1 Corinthians 6:11
Free from condemnation Romans 8:1
Heirs with Christ Romans 8:17
God’s Inheritance Ephesians 1:18
More than Conquerors Romans 8:37
Redeemed 1 Peter 1:18
New Creations 2 Corinthians 5:17
This “performance mentality” theology robs many of any sense of assurance of salvation. We receive salvation solely by Grace—God’s free, unmerited, undeserved, unearned gift. The Bible teaches we are not only brought into salvation by grace, but also remain saved and secure thanks to God’s Grace and Might (1 Peter 1:3-5).
There is a place for good works, because we love the Lord. Good works confirm we are saved, but they certainly aren’t the means to obtain or maintain our salvation. (Ephesians 2:10)
Biblically, we’re commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Growth comes by getting into God’s Word (Colossians 3:16), attending church (Hebrews 10:24-25), prayer (Ephesians 6:18), telling others about Christ (Acts 1:8), and by serving the Lord through ministry to other people (1 Peter 4:10).