Shortly after Christmas, I received the following email from a reader of this blog.
I’m wondering if you can help me. I have prayed to be saved multiple times, knowing it is not by human effort. I was raised in a Christian home and have a Christian heritage, including godly preachers, etc. But I never truly have assurance and can’t really seem to have victory over sin. I don’t have the love I wish I did for others. The only thing I can conclude is that I wasn’t chosen. I know if election is true then you can’t change that. But I’m desperate for some hope. Can you help me? Have you encountered this before? Can you imagine what I’m going through? Please help. I know all the assurance verses.
To which I replied:
Dear Sue (not her real name),
Thanks for your note. Your question and your trial are not uncommon; many struggle with assurance of salvation. Let me first encourage you; the heart’s longing that I read between the lines sounds like that of a believer (Non-believers have no such desire). However, the assurance you need is that which only God can give to you through his Word. So, rely not upon my words, but upon God’s. As I said, your struggle is not new. First century Christians battled the same doubts. That’s what motivated the apostle to write the book of First John, as verse 13 of the last chapter informs us. My counsel to you is this: Read the book of First John once a day for a month while praying the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and mind concerning your relationship to God. I believe He will answer your prayer to know Him.
By the way, the doctrine of election was not given to us by God to cause doubt, but to evoke praise from unworthy sinners like you and me. One of Satan’s tactics is to get people stuck on the merry-go-round of election, forever trying to figure out if they are one of the chosen. But Scripture never instructs us to figure this out. It tells us to repent and believe in Jesus and follow Him. By doing so, our election is proven genuine (2 Peter 1). Election is God’s business; the obedience of faith is ours.
I’ve attached a simple worksheet that I created many years ago. It will serve as a guide to you as you study the book of 1 John. I will be praying for you.
[If you would like a copy of the 1 John worksheet, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.]