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Can we doubt someone’s salvation?

Weekly Q&A

Can we doubt someone’s salvation?
Posted on November 3, 2020  - By Jobin John Mathew

Can we doubt someone’s salvation? What must it be based on? How do I know that I’m not trying to “remove the speck in their eye without removing the log in my own”? I mean to ask, what if my doubts are stemming from my prejudice towards that person?

This is a good question to ponder. I am sure that, at some point, we all have found ourselves in such a predicament.

Salvation is the loving, living and life-changing plan, purpose and proposal of the divine Father, Son and the Holy Spirit by which any sinner, slave or strayer can rejoice in his restoration through God’s redemption. And as John Piper once stated, once a person is saved, there are no dropouts.

The working out of salvation

Let me first quote two verses and make a few observations about the concept of salvation:

  • Ephesians 2:8 — For it is by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the free gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:15 — Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

The basis of salvation is grace, which is an act of God, and the means for salvation is faith. Salvation does not have its source in man, but rather its source is His grace (Titus:2:11), described as “His gift” (Romans 6:23). It is, therefore, humanly impossible for any person to gain salvation by his own efforts; he experiences it only through God’s favour and grace upon him.

It is humanly impossible for any person to gain salvation by his own efforts. This is why God’s gift of eternal salvation is considered “indescribable”

This is why God’s greatest gift to mankind — eternal salvation — is considered “indescribable”, in the sense of how difficult it would be to fully describe it and, yet, how wonderfully it changes any person who fully experiences it.

One more important verse and observation:

  • Philippians 1:6 — …being confident of this that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The “good work” which God began is salvation and He promises to complete it. He provides His strength to sustain us (Psalm 54:5), and He purposes that we become more like His son each day (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus will make sure that what He commenced (when He saved the sinner), He will continue (ensuring the saved sinner receives grace and mercy for his daily walk and in his struggles) and He will complete (ensuring the saved sinner reaches his eternal abode safely) and stand blameless before the Heavenly Father (Jude 24). This is the work of Jesus Christ and He alone can continue and complete it, because He is the One who first commenced it!

A better alternative to doubt

To be honest, the word ‘doubt’ is a strong one and to doubt someone’s salvation is not a graceful act. The Bible does not endorse the act of doubting one’s salvation.

Consider the audience that the writer of the book of Hebrews is addressing, for instance. As one Christian writer has observed: “Hebrews 6:1-4 is a major warning that some individuals had heard the gospel about Christ but were thinking about walking away from Christ. Some of them were not growing in their knowledge of the Scriptures (Hebrews 5:11-14), no longer ministering to others (Hebrews 6:10), not regularly attending church (Hebrews 10:24-25), and were not walking by faith (Hebrews 11).”

The Bible does not endorse the act of doubting one’s salvation

What we can do, however, is replace the act of doubting with the following:

1. Instead of doubting, evaluate the intention

We must train ourselves to ask intelligent, tough yet graceful questions to help others with their salvation experience. Here are a few examples:

  • What does the gospel mean to you?
  • Would you describe your faith as being real? In what way?
  • How do you demonstrate your love for Jesus on a daily basis?
  • How is your sensitivity towards sin?

We often find that we are neither trained to ask such questions nor gentle when it comes to dealing with someone who might be struggling with the assurance of their salvation. We also need to remind ourselves that judgement based on little or no information is sinful.

As Christians, we are called to evaluate the possibility that someone is a Christian or not, but we should do so in a non-threatening manner. We can evaluate the intention of the person as to why they have chosen to follow Christ, by asking questions that would help them explain their understanding. We can then gauge their responses to understand where they are in their journey of faith.

We often find that we are neither trained to ask such questions nor gentle when it comes to dealing with those struggling with the assurance of their salvation

2. Instead of doubting, reassure the individual

Jude 22-23 offers an excellent reminder: “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

The Christian faith is simple and straightforward, but can be confusing to a few. We should not treat such people with slander, ridicule or criticism. Rather, we should remind ourselves of how the Lord treated us — with mercy (see Jude 21) — and show them the same depth of love, care and concern.

Our aim is to build, and not tear down, to encourage and not dishearten. Let us assure others of their: standing in Christ (1 Corinthians 16:13), freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1), to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), to stir up one another (Hebrews 10:24), and to take heart (John 16:33).

The heart cry of Jesus can be found in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.” 

Let us pursue others with the intention to draw them to Christ and help them along the way, in fully understanding that loving Christ also includes following Christ, being obedient to His Word, and going against temptation and sin.

This requires patience, longsuffering, endurance, calmness and gentleness and these would be the “logs in our eyes” we can be careful about. In other words, let’s leave the “saving” to Christ and just provide the support that fellow believers need.

Jobin John Mathew

About Jobin John Mathew

Jobin John Mathew serves as a deacon at his church in Bangalore. He enjoys talking about Jesus to all age groups, preaching through the book of James, and listening to gospel-centric sermons. He is married to Ruby and dad to little Judah. The family shares their home with many pets, including three turtles.



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