4 Reasons People Doubt Their Salvation

by Sep 21, 2016Assurance

Few things are more dreadful than doubting one’s own salvation. Though I understand, may I encourage you that our salvation is to be a “know so” salvation. 1 John 5:13 declares, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” Why then do some doubt their salvation? I want to cover just four reasons.


1. Some do not have a clear understanding of the plan of salvation.

When it comes to questioning their salvation, many revert to a time when they walked an aisle, signed a card, or said a prayer. Please know that none of those actually save us.

John explains that “these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). The word believe is used 98 times in the Gospel of John in explaining the way of salvation. It means to trust.

As mankind, we have to come to God as sinners, recognize Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again, and place our trust in Christ alone as our only way to heaven. As my mentor, Haddon Robinson used to say, we have to “be satisfied with the thing that satisfies God.”

Walking an aisle, signing a card, or saying a prayer might be how we indicate to someone else that we are trusting Christ, but none of those have anything to do with being saved. We are forever His the moment we place our trust in Christ alone to save us. If you haven’t already done so, I invite you now to place your trust in Christ alone to save you.


2. Some overlook the period.

Note the finality of John 6:47: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” That sentence contains a period, not a comma. It does not continue by adding, “and lives a good life” or “and lives like a Christian.” Our salvation is not based on Christ in addition to a good life, church attendance, baptism etc. Our salvation is based on Christ only.

God’s promise is guaranteed. On the cross Christ did not make the down payment; He made the full payment. The moment you trust Christ, you have everlasting life—period.


3. Some have been victims of unbiblical teaching.

When someone teaches Scripture out of context, people can unnecessarily doubt their salvation. For example, 1 John 4:20 says, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

Some have used that to say, “Therefore if you don’t love your brother, you’re not a Christian.” That verse does not say, “if someone says I know God and hates his brother…” Instead it says, “If someone says I love God and hates his brother.” You can know God and hate your brother, but you cannot love God and hate your brother. If you love the Father, you have to love the family. Study Scripture in its proper context to be assured of what it is saying.


4. Some doubt everything.

The problem some people have is not merely doubting their salvation; they doubt everything! They doubt their mate’s faithfulness or their children’s love. Therefore, a general doubting nature can manifest itself in doubting one’s own salvation.

Recognize your doubt for what it is—doubt. Maybe you have reason to question what someone else says, but you know that there is no reason to question what God says: “He who has the Son has life…”(1 John 5:12). Enough said!

Struggling with your salvation can be a growing experience as long as you handle that struggle the right way. When you have handled your struggle properly, know you are His and know why, you can say, “He said it. That settles it. I am His forever.”

“What if I don’t know how to answer an objection about my faith in Jesus?”

This is a top fear people face when seeking to introduce a friend or loved one to Jesus. Sadly, it will stop many Christ followers in their tracks while sharing their faith this year. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

First, we should get one thing settled – if you are actively sharing your faith, you will be stumped by an objection about the Bible, Jesus, or Christian beliefs eventually. Unless, of course, you have an immediate answer to every potential question someone may ask about our infinite, all-knowing God. If that’s the case, I need to be reading your blog. However, if you’re more like the rest of us, the question really isn’t “what if I get stumped?”; instead, the question is “when I get stumped, how should I respond?”

Here are three things to do and one very important thing to remember when you run into an objection that shortens your breath, quickens your pulse, and makes you want to exit stage left.

Ask a clarifying question

Many Christians falsely believe that when an objection is raised, the clock starts ticking, and they have a very short window of time to answer the objection. If that’s how you feel, I want you to read this next sentence carefully. When someone makes an objection, you are not on the hook to answer it; they are on the hook to explain more. You can invite them to do so with a clarifying question like, “What do you mean by that?” I think an example will help.

Joanne: “Tina, I appreciate your beliefs, but I really don’t see any good reason to believe in God.”

Tina: “Thank you for being honest. However, may I ask what you mean when you say ‘God’?”

Joanne: “Well, I just don’t think there’s an old bearded guy up there watching our every move.”

Tina: “I see, and actually, I don’t believe in an old bearded guy either – can I share a little about who God is according to the Bible?”

Look back at what Tina did (politely). She asked a what do you mean question that invited Joanne to explain more. That did two very important things: It kept the conversation moving toward the gospel, and it took all the pressure off Tina to cobble together a defense of God’s existence on the spot.

Acknowledge the objection and advance the conversation

Consider this brief exchange:

Jonathan: “I just don’t think there is any evidence that Christianity is true.”

Craig: “I definitely want to hear your thoughts about that, but can I briefly share what I believe about Jesus?”

In this short conversation, Craig isn’t interested in proving Jonathan wrong, and he isn’t avoiding the objection. In fact, he makes it clear that he wants to hear Jonathan’s thoughts. All he’s seeing permission to push the objection to the end so he can share about his faith in Christ. This can be very effective, because in some cases, someone like Jonathan has been bringing up this objection for years and has heard 1,000 reasons why Christianity makes sense (and continues to ignore them), but what he’s never heard is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“But,” you may be thinking, “what happens when they bring up the objection again and I don’t know how to respond?” Well, that leads us right into the next suggestion.

Use Your 5-word Ace Card: “Let me think about that”

If you ever feel pinned down by an objection, these five words will get you off the hook 100% of the time: “let me think about that.” Here are four reasons this phrase is so powerful: 

  1. It lets the other person know you appreciate their objection and want the time it deserves to think about it
  2. It removes all pressure to provide an immediate answer
  3. It allows you the opportunity to set up a future time to talk
  4. It gives you the chance to meet with a pastor, mentor, etc. about the topic at hand so you can come prepared to the future discussion

As you can see, this simple phrase does a lot of work for you. It is quite literally your ace card in any conversation that goes sideways.

One critical thing to remember

Now that you know some helpful tactics to address objections while sharing your faith, there is one last thing to remember – and it’s vitally important.

Your job is to glorify God, not win arguments.

Too often people come to blogs like this with the goal to “not look foolish” or “to get the best of someone.” If your honest intention is to win arguments instead of souls, then your intention has more to do with glorifying your intellect than glorifying God. Sit with that for a moment before you depart to put these tactics into action. Ask God to make these a part of your efforts to glorify Him as He opens opportunities for you to share the wondrous message of the cross.