Helping Those who Struggle with Their Salvation

by Mar 20, 2023Assurance, Fear

Few things are more terrifying to a believer than if he or she struggles with whether or not they are actually saved. I have had young people and adults sit in front of me with tears running down their faces, fearful that they might spend eternity away from God rather than with Him.

How do you help those people come to a place where they are so certain that they are going to heaven that they feel like they are already there? Several ideas will be helpful.

Make certain that they understand the simple plan of salvation.

The reason some are uncertain of their salvation is that they have missed the simplicity of the gospel message. We have to come to God as sinners recognizing that we deserve eternal separation from Him. But Jesus Christ took the penalty for our sins by dying in our place and rising on the third day. He received the punishment that we deserved. Our sins being paid for, God is simply asking us to place our trust in Christ alone as our only way to heaven. The simple declaration Christ made in John 6:47 is, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”


We must stress that it is trusting Christ alone to save us. Salvation is not Christ plus our church attendance, or baptism, or good works, but trusting Christ alone as our only way to heaven. Some are not sure of their salvation because they are not saved. If eternal life was dependent on Christ plus something we have done, we could never be sure of our salvation. He did His part, but what if we do not do ours? Instead, it is Christ alone that saves.

The reason many are unsure of their salvation is that they are indeed not saved because they have missed the simple message of salvation.

Make certain that they do not confuse being saved with a date or how they responded.

Some have been told, “If you do not know the date you were saved, then you are not saved.” Nothing could be further from the truth. When Scripture gives assurance, it does not go back to a date, it goes back to a fact. Who are you trusting in right now? If a person is trusting Christ alone to save him, he is forever saved regardless of when he crossed the line.

Still, others think in terms of how they responded – by walking an aisle, saying a prayer, signing a card, or raising their hand. They may even question how sincere they were at the time. Those may be ways that they told someone that they wanted to trust Christ, but none of those have anything to do with assurance of salvation. We are not saved by walking an aisle, signing a card, saying a prayer, or raising our hand. Once more, it is trusting Christ that saves. Those are traditional ways by which people indicate a response but we are not saved through something we have done. We are saved by trusting Christ and what He did for us on the cross.

Caution them not to confuse entering the Christian with living the Christian life.

This is perhaps the biggest reason people doubt their salvation. They begin looking at what kind of Christian life they have lived and how consistently they were in living it. They express disappointment at how loving they have been, how forgiving they are, how consistently they pray, how often they share their faith, how regularly they study the Bible, and how often they attend church. If one goes that route, he will never know if he is saved. Who of us on any given day could say that we have lived as close to Christ as we would have liked to?

Christians ought to live the holiest life for Christ that they can. But our assurance of salvation is not based on the promises we make to God, but on the promises He makes to us. It is based on our justification not on our sanctification.  We are saved by grace and we are assured by grace that we are forever His. Romans 5:1 declares, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God though our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even though we may not always live as we should and at times we may even walk away from  God, that in no way changes the assurance we can have that we are saved. Once more, that assurance is based on the promises He made to us, not the promises we make to Him. It was Jesus Himself who made the beautiful promise of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Believing right helps us think right, and that helps us feel right. To help believers who struggle with assurance we have to help them look at what the Bible says, think in accordance with what the Bible says, and then the feelings result.  Assurance of salvation is based on fact, not feeling. That feeling may not come overnight, especially if they have thought wrongly for years.  But it will come because they accept and stand on the fact and truth of 1 John 5:12. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.