But How Can I Know?

OK!!!!

I Peek. I admit it! There…confession is good for the soul (but bad for the reputation).

When the Pastor says to the congregation something like “With every head bowed and every eye closed…raise your hand if you accepted Christ today” … I peek.

Oh it’s not a blatant peek – I’ve perfected the “peek between the face in hands, fingers spread open” move. From this covert position I can check out who and how many make decisions.

I guess being a Sociology major at least has one lasting benefit – the love of watching and studying people.

But this method of “accepting” Christ has at some level bothered me. I can’t really put my finger on it and it’s not the focus of this blog – but something is not right with that.

What I find fascinating is the fact that I often see the same hands go up at every salvation call. And it’s a huge problem in our youth group too – these youths will soon be those adults I see every Sunday.

Most of our testimonies sound something like this – “I trusted Christ while at camp” or “Sunday school” or with parents. They often follow with something like “But my faith became my own when I was in high school”.

Is the salvation experience really a 2 step process?

Erik Thoennes – professor of Theology at Talbot School of Theology wrote “The term saved is popularly used to refer to regeneration and justification. But when the Bible uses the word salvation in a spiritual sense, it describes the broad range of God’s activity in rescuing people from sin and restoring them to a right relationship with Himself. Salvation in the Bible has a past, present, and future. A believer has been saved from the guilt of sin (justification, Eph 2:8), is being saved from the power of sin (sanctification, 1 Cor 1:18), and will be saved from the judgment and presence of sin (glorification, Acts 15:11).”

While each one of our salvation experiences may look different, salvation is “definite and absolute.”

If you have grown up a Protestant like me, our church experiences have been greatly influenced by the Old Time Revivals. Billy Graham and his predecessors put a strategic and intentional emphasis on “making a public decision for Christ.” It is at this very moment that many of us state that we were saved – there is a definitive date and time for this eternal decision…nothing inherently wrong with this tradition, but it does create it’s own challenges.

Thoennes says “The decision approach rightly emphasizes the need for a personal commitment to Jesus and the idea that regeneration takes place at a specific time. The potential downside is that this view can lead to a simplistic, human-centered understanding of being saved, where one depends too heavily on the specific act of trusting Christ as the primary evidence of conversion. As a result, one can doubt the “decision” was real, leading to numerous journeys down the aisle (just in case). Also, one can depend on the walk down the aisle alone, even in the absence of spiritual fruit.”

The other salvation approach is shared by Calvinists and Reformed traditions. They focus on the sovereignty of God. But this emphasis can leave the salvation experience so vague.

I guess that’s why I like what Spurgeon said – “The Spirit calls men to Jesus in a diverse way. Some are drawn so gently that they scarcely know when the drawing began, and the others are so suddenly affected that their conversion stands out with noonday clearness.”

So if you question your salvation…if you are tempted to “get saved” at every alter call, how do you know for certain?

You will know that your salvation was authentic by:

– Your personal growth in Christ-like character

– More and more love for God and those around you

– And the evidence of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life (Gal 5:22-25).

As Thoennes stated “A memorable conversion experience may serve as an important reference point to God’s saving work in your life. But the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in making a person more like Jesus is the clearest indicator that one has been made a new creation in Christ.”

Thank you Lord that you loved me enough to allow me to chose you.

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