Years ago at a revival meeting where I was asked to preach, the pastor asked my wife and me to speak to a young woman in his church. It seemed she had been struggling with whether or not she was genuinely saved. Naturally, the first thing we did was ask about her testimony. Through her tears, she revealed to us that this was part of the problem—she had three different experiences and she couldn’t decide which, if any, was real. The first was when she was six-years-old. She said she was led in a prayer by her mother. At the time, she was terrified of going to hell, but, admittedly, had no understanding of what she was doing. So, she pretty much ruled that one out.
The second experience was when she was 10-years-old at a junior camp. She went forward after the preaching and someone led her in a prayer, but again, she did not know what she was doing.
Her third experience was when she was about 15-years-old at a youth rally. Once again, she went forward and an evangelist quickly had her repeat a prayer and sent her back to her seat, assuring her she was saved. But she was miserable.
Now to look at her, you would think she was one of the finest young ladies in the church. Faithful to all the services, working with the youth, involved in choir, special music, and so on. The thing that stood out to my wife and me was the fact that never once in any of her “testimonies” had anyone dealt with her about her sin, her lost condition, or repentance and faith. Her motivation in each experience was the fear of going to hell. A real motivation without a doubt—but there are things which must be dealt with when a soul is coming to Christ. After allowing her to draw her own conclusions based on her own experiences versus what the Word of God says takes place in salvation, she concluded she had never truly repented and placed her faith in Christ. Now she understood why she had such strong doubts and was so miserable. BUT—she insisted she could not be lost! Why? “I am so busy in the church, I am a good person,” was her response.
Pastors, in our endeavors with the people who come to our services, we must not accept testimonies or experiences over the Word of God. This is what the cults do! And may I be so bold to affirm—this is what many who claim to be Bible-believing Baptists do! The Bible is not held as the final authority of faith and practice—the experience is. The vision is. The good works done by someone.
A few weeks after that particular revival meeting ended, the pastor’s wife wrote to us to let us know all was well with that young woman. The pastor’s wife had dealt with her and convinced her once and for all the reason for all her misery was she had just lost the joy of the Lord.
Now here was a young woman, who, by her own admission, had never repented and did not know if she was truly a child of God. It was very obvious to us that the Spirit of God was dealing with her about her lost condition. Faithful, self-righteous church goers need the Saviour, too. How very dangerous it is when pastors and pastors’ wives and Christians circumvent the work of conviction the Spirit of God is attempting to do in a soul’s life.
Consider with me: can you name anyone in the Scriptures who met Christ in salvation but didn’t know it? Who left His presence shaking their heads? The question is not do you know any preachers or church members with such a testimony, but do you see an example, a pattern of it in the Word of God? Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,”
This is God’s plan of salvation:
Hear the Word – James 1:18, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
James 1:21, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Believe the Word – understand the gospel just as the good ground hearer in Matthew 13:23, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
Trust the Word – receive it – exercise faith
You will be sealed with the Holy Spirit
In II Timothy Paul said, “…for I know Whom I have believed…”
Consider these verses—all of which affirm we can know we are saved:
I John 2:3-5, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
I John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”
I John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.”
I John 5:13, “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, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Our salvation is a know-so-salvation because we receive a Person as our Lord and Saviour into our lives. I John 5:12, “He that hath the Son hath life.” And not only will we know we are saved, but our lives will prove it as II Corinthians 5:17 assures us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Thank you for reading.