I checked out from writing over the summer because we were moving and…
Well, there was just a lot of LIFE happening around here.
But when I returned and actually checked my blog email, there were three different emails from readers who were wrestling with whether or not they are Christians and if they are saved.
All three wandered in this way because of someone who directed them to this post about J.D. Greear’s book– Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart.
I wrestle with this myself once in a while, but also with regards to our children, as we don’t want them to think that their salvation is at all based on works, but on the flip side, don’t want to give them a false assurance of a relationship with God, when they may not really know Him yet.
But there in lies the dilemma.
All those frequented phrases like–
“Ask Jesus into your heart.”
“Have a relationship with God.”
“Pray a prayer of salvation.”
This summer I was working my way through a preteen study by David Platt in his Follow Me Series and he asks a question on the first week that I appreciated.
Side note– I think I just may have found my “peer group” because this study for middle-schoolers resonated well with me.
In the first week, Platt asked us to find the verse that references “asking Jesus into your heart”.
The answer is–
There isn’t one.
In that same section, he asked us to choose a famous person that we appreciate (sports, music, actor or someone like that).
Our boys probably picked somebody that is on the OSU Beavers football team.
My guess is that our daughter picked Katie Davis, because she just finished Katie’s book and has an ongoing email stream of questions that she has been sending to their ministry.
Platt then asked us a series of questions to draw out what we know about that person.
Where they live?
What they do with their time?
Finally, he asked if we saw that person in a room and walked up to them, if they would know who we are.
I’m pretty sure not.
The point is that I may know a lot about Matt Chandler and his family, but I don’t have any sort of real relationship with him or with his family.
It is possible to know a lot about God.
To verbally say we believe all the right things, but to not really know Him.
“To die to yourself means you allow Jesus to live in you (to take control of your life). You do not want your own way. You want Jesus to tell you what to do, how to act, how to treat other people, and direct EVERY part of your life. Dying to yourself means letting Jesus control everything you think, do, and say… Dying to yourself is putting your wants, thoughts, hopes, and desires aside and following Jesus’ wants, thoughts, hopes, and desires…
Some people would say that doing the will of the Father means doing good things and working to earn salvation.
That is not what Matthew 7:21 says. Jesus was not saying that a person’s works are what allows him to receive salvation.
God’s grace is the only basis for salvation.
Jesus taught that only people who are obedient to God will enter heaven.
When a person becomes a Christian, her life should reflect her relationship of following Jesus.
God is calling us to follow Jesus– to do more than just know about Him. God wants us to be different because of the difference that Jesus makes in our lives.” ~Platt
My response to a reader’s question:
“I’m just now seeing this…so sorry for the slow response. We were moving this past month and I just haven’t checked in at all lately…
I think that J.D. Greear’s book would be a wonderful read for you.
Basically his point is that salvation is not a formula where we pray a prayer and somehow that assures us of our salvation.
But on the flip side, it helped me remember that God says He loves us and wholeheartedly wants ALL people to come to Him.
And it’s only through His grace, or undeserved favor.
I think the very fact that you’re wrestling with all this shows your longing for Him.
God will never push you away.
At any point, His desire is that no matter where you’re at, how low or far away you feel…you turn to Him, hold your arms and heart out to Him and say:
“I want to know you. I know I need you. I want to turn from living for myself and to live for you.”
I think Satan would love for us to spend time and energy and heartache worrying about whether we are or aren’t truly “saved,” whether a particular prayer really was enough…
Instead, we must consider the wrestling a call from God to stop right where we are now–
An opportunity to turn to Him and pursue Him now.
We must forget what lies behind in our past, or even misguided “Christian upbringing,” or any of the times we may have prayed and wondered if it “really stuck”.
Instead… we can start with today.
When I’m struggling with these kind of thoughts, my favorite Psalm to go to is Psalm 103.
If we come to God and confess our sins, through Jesus’ death on the cross He is faithful to forgive ALL our wrongdoings and He promises to remove our sins as far as the East is from the West.
If you have time, read it today and know that in this moment you can call out to Him and He will answer you.
That is His promise to us– “Call to me and I will answer you.”
I am going to stop and pray for you right now and I would be happy to continue the conversation. ~Love, Kara”
His love for you, dear reader, is SO great.
Absolutely nothing can separate you from His love (Eph. 3:18, Romans 8:38-39).
He is a Father who loves you greatly and He wants you to know Him in a real, deep, powerful way.
Wherever you are right now.
Whether you feel close or distant.
Estranged or connected.
Whether you are sure of Him or are still questioning if He even exists.
God loves you.
His sent His own son as a Rescuer and Redeemer, to bridge the gap created by sin.
He offers sacrifice and repentance and cleansing and hope that is once and for all.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~Phil. 3:13 & 14
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16
God loves you and He knows you and He wants you to know Him.
From a song we sang in church today:
“A thousand times I’ve failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I’m caught in Your grace
Your light will shine when all else fades
Your glory goes beyond all fame
My heart and my soul, I give You control
Consume me from the inside out, Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out
Your will above all else
My purpose remains
The art of losing myself
In bringing You praise…”
*Available to listen to here.