Are You Saved?

I accepted Jesus Christ as savior at 5 years old. I remember the moment so well. I came running down the sidewalk toward my father as he picked me up from school that day, shouting, “Daddy, I’m saved! I asked Jesus into my heart today!” I was so full of joy at knowing that no matter how dark or lonely my life became, Jesus would always be near to comfort me.

But my joyful assurance wasn’t to last.

See, I would go to church and hear ministers ask me if I was really saved. Because there was a chance I might not have been completely sincere in my confession of faith the first time around. I might have prayed the sinner’s prayer without really knowing what I was doing. I might have done it simply to impress someone or to obtain my “get out of hell free” card. I might have unknowingly “back-slidden” since then or left some sin unconfessed during that first prayer. At any rate, I had to question, question, question. Were my motives for following Christ pure? Was my life completely without sin? Was I doing everything possible to be holy? Would God find me worthy of heaven at The Judgement? I had to be sure! My eternal soul depended on it.

I probably rededicated my life to God 20 times during my teenage years alone. Often, I’d walk away from the altar feeling more depressed and anxious than before I went down there. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who feel this way today. They’ve invited Christ to be the Lord of their lives–even receiving the full indwelling of the Holy Spirit–but still aren’t sure if they’ll see the Pearly Gates.

Fortunately, I can now say with that old joyous assurance that I am saved. Really and truly. I was saved all along, even when others caused me to doubt it. God revealed to me in the Bible exactly what it means to be saved, and it is so straightforward and simple that I wonder how I was made to question my salvation in the first place. So for those of you who may still be doubting, here is my checklist straight from the Word of God:

1. Believe in Jesus: his redemption, his gospel, and his resurrection.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:9-11). 

For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40).

2. Confess your sins.

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

3. Keep his commands.

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love (John 15:10).

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21).

What were Christ’s commands, again? 

* Repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit (Matthew 4:17; Mark 16:16; John 20:22).

* Go into all the world, preach the gospel and make disciples (Mark 16:15Matthew 28:19).

* Love God, your neighbor, and your enemies (Matthew 22:37-39; John 13:34-35Matthew 5:43-45).

* Rejoice, pray, give, and forgive (Matthew 5:12; Luke 21:36; Luke 6:38; Mark 11:25).

* Do not worry (Matthew 6:34).

* Do not judge (Luke 6:37).

* Do not commit adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).

In fact, Jesus is constantly telling his disciples how they can escape his judgment in the gospels. Want a guarantee of God’s forgiveness? Forgive those who have wronged you. Want to ensure you aren’t judged by Christ? Don’t judge others. Want to live in God’s will? Believe in Jesus for eternal life. Want to keep all of God’s commands? Just love. Want to go to heaven? Show compassion to the least in society. It’s not rocket science.

So what about sins committed after accepting Christ? Honestly, scripture isn’t entirely clear on this point. But here’s what I believe. I think when a Christian accepts Christ as savior, he or she takes on Christ’s redemptive power for their entire lives–that an occasional slip-up doesn’t automatically condemn someone as long as it’s acknowledged and repented of. It’s when a person decides to live in sin and stops following Christ that salvation is forfeited. You can’t lose it by accident.

And here’s what I’ve discovered: when you commit to live in love as Christ commanded, it’s really hard to sin. Seriously. You don’t cuss out people you’ve determined to love. You don’t hold grudges against people you’ve determined to love. You don’t ask yourself, “How far can I go before I’m sinning?” when you’ve determined to love Christ with your whole heart.

4. There is no #4. 

This is it, folks. If you can check off boxes 1 – 3, you’re saved. You don’t have to worry about it anymore. And it’s a detriment to your faith if you do. When I constantly worried about my salvation, I couldn’t grow as a Christian. I struggled to hear the voice of God. I struggled to get free of sin and temptation. I struggled to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit. My focus was on having a Christ-like appearance rather than a Christ-like heart. But now that I’m secure in my salvation, I feel like I’m already in heaven.

26 responses to “Are You Saved?

  1. I can understand the “re-dedications” in your teen years. Those of us that have been to church know that walk of shame and hope very well. I am surprised it only happened 20 times! I must have walked up there at least once a month on Sundays and a few times a year on Fridays at the end of Bible Study.

    But nothing changed. I couldn’t feel anything. I wanted to, but couldn’t. I was pretending and pretending but nothing moved me. Nothing changed in me and no answers came.

    Trust me, I took the “seek and ye shall find” message literally.

    It led me to me. I could stop pretending and just be myself. I lost friends and I lost loved ones in the process, but, in the end, I am honest. I am who I am.

    An Atheist.

    • First of all, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I’m always excited to have new followers. Second, I’d like to respond to your comment. Let me start by saying that any statements I make are not intended to lecture you, bring shame, or to convince you to convert. They’re simply food for thought, and you’re welcome to respond to them in an honest manner.

      You say that you didn’t feel anything as a Christian, even though you tried. One thing God showed me is that faith isn’t about feeling. Faith is about believing. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” did you believe him? When you went to the altar and prayed for salvation, did you believe that Jesus was real and would be a part of your life after that? Or were you waiting to feel something after uttering the ‘right’ words that would convince you he’s real? The joyous assurance I felt when I became saved came only *after* I believed, not after I prayed.

      Also, you said you took the “seek and ye shall find” message literally. Well, where did you go seeking? Did you seek within yourself? (Then I’m not surprised you found yourself.) Did you go seeking in nature? Certainly, nature reveals the glory of God, but not God himself. Did you seek in the latest Christian books that say if you do _____, then you will feel God’s presence? Then I’m still not surprised you didn’t find him.

      When I went seeking, I turned to the Bible. The Bible reveals the person of Christ. It was the revealed Word of God that helped me to maintain my faith after all of the spiritual abuse I suffered at the hands of ministers who said I wasn’t really saved. That’s where I found Jesus. And when I started living out his commands to love and forgive, my life began to change dramatically…and not a second before that.

  2. “This above all; to thine own self be true.” – William Shakespeare

    How about I give you a Shakespeare sandwich? 🙂 I kid. That line always gets to me. That line inspires me and lifts me up. The bible is not the only place to find inspirational phrases. There is literature from all over the world.
    Is there truth there? I think so.

    I appreciate your candor and your honesty. I do not doubt your sincerity in the least. Most people who believe, as you do, believe honestly and believe with their sincerity.

    I, however, could not. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I tried as I said but to no avail.

    I can tell you I never believed. I never felt, as you point out, because I didn’t believe. I wasn’t “made” to believe. I think I somehow didn’t receive that “believer” gene. I am not saying there is such a thing, but I sure do not possess it.

    I must answer your question about seeking. I sought in Christian literature. I sought answers from the pastors and priests. When that didn’t work, I sought out rabbis and other religious “scholars”. I was met with derision. At almost every turn.

    I turned to the only source we all have for this particular faith. The Bible. That is the one book that must have the answers. It’s the only required textbook in seminary and it’s the same book for all divinity students…right?

    I sought in the book. What I found in the book only led to more questions. Philosophical questions and moral questions and questions that didn’t fit in either category. I took my questions to those who surely knew what I was talking about.

    Again, as though I were a horn fly, I was shushed and waved away. Either I struck a nerve or I was “looking too hard” (as one of them said). Look to hard? Is that even possible?

    I looked at nature. I looked at the valley and the mountain and the canyons and the river. I thought, maybe the indigenous were on to something. Maybe, just maybe…

    Nope. We understand earthquakes now. We understand the stars and the weather. So, they didn’t have it either.

    Then it struck me, just like that.

    I can quickly write off the belief of the Lakota and the Iroquois. I can giggle at the claims of Islam. I can laugh until I cry when I consider Joseph Smith and his “magic tablets” from New York. But, what was stopping me from turning the same logic towards the belief my childhood friends and parents and everyone I had ever known… The answer was nothing. So I did.

    I am a better man now. Lost all those I thought were friends. I lost family. It’s fine. That’s what I get for following what William Shakespeare said…

    “Better a witty fool than a foolish wit.”

    • Certainly there is truth in Shakespeare’s quote. I was a lit major in college, so I have a keen appreciation for these things.

      Should you be true to yourself? Absolutely. I think it’s perfectly normal for people to struggle with doubt on occasion, but pretenders grind on my nerves. Honesty wins.

      I’m sorry that you met such resistance when asking questions and that you lost friends when you turned to atheism. If you’ve read through other posts on my blog, you know I’m pretty critical of both. Granted, no priest, rabbi or minister is going to have all the answers, but they can at least be willing to talk to people who have sincere questions. And I certainly don’t think atheism should exclude anyone from friendship. My husband is agnostic for crying out loud.

      If you want a good book to read on Christianity and the Bible’s development, I recommend Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCullouch. It’s a history book, not religious literature. I’m through the first 150 pages, and it’s excellent. I seriously doubt it will enable you to believe (perhaps just the opposite), but it might answer some of your original questions about the Bible and church rituals.

      This conversation has inspired me. I may do a post on faith and belief in the future.

      • Thank you for the recommendation and thank you for having this conversation. I can only say that my motivation was always to follow the questions. Even if I didn’t like the answers I found, it didn’t matter. That was the answer… even if I didn’t like the answer I found, it was what it was independent of me and my feelings about it. Following the truth no matter where it leads is what I do. It is all we do; believer and non-believer. Some of us stop. Some of us keep going.

        There are answers that make us uneasy, but not asking the question is even more difficult than that uneasiness of doubt.

        One of those pesky verses I have never been able to shake:

        “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (KJV is so much more beautiful, isn’t it?)

        • Absolutely. It was the verses I couldn’t shake that prevented me from giving up my faith during the darkest times of my life. I’m not saying I haven’t found glimpses of truth elsewhere, because I have. However, I found Jesus’ words and the words based on his truth to be too powerful and compelling to ignore. That’s what convinced me of his existence and divinity.

  3. Well, the checklist might help us to assess our level of spiritual maturity; but it still bases our “salvation” on our performance.

    The Gospel is “while we were still sinners Christ died for us” and declares that God does not hold our sins against us.

    The quality of our lives may depend on our spiritual performance; but not the quality of God’s Love which is unconditional. Once we get the “unconditional” part, then we never doubt our salvation again.

    And did you get what
    you wanted from this life, even so?
    I did.
    And what did you want?
    To call myself beloved, to feel myself
    beloved on the earth.
    ~Raymond Carver, “Late Fragment”

    As a new adult convert, I wondered what the “unforgiveable sin” was. When I asked my pastor about it he responded, “I don’t know; but if you are concerned about it, you probably haven’t committed it. I now believe that it is simply being too proud to accept God’s forgiveness and love.

    “The world is by no means averse to religion. In fact, it is devoted to it with a passion. It will buy any recipe for salvation as long as that formula leaves the responsibility for cooking up salvation firmly in human hands. The world is drowning in religion. But it is scared out of its wits by any mention of the grace that takes the world home gratis.” –Robert Farrer Capon

    “The underlying foundation of all religion is performance – whether it’s a tribal dance around a campfire to satisfy the fire god, or a dead religious activity performed week after week by an evangelical Christian with the intent of impressing his God. It’s all religious performance, and God isn’t impressed by our performance. What impresses Him is faith.” ~Steve McVey

    “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservations.” –Elton Trueblood

    “Belief is reassuring. People who live in the world of belief feel safe. On the contrary, faith is forever placing us on the razor’s edge.” –Jacques Ellul

    “Christians have always tended to transform the Christian Revelation into a Christian religion. Christianity is said to be a religion like any other or, conversely, some Christians try to show that it is a better religion than the others. People attempt to take possession of God. Theology claims to explain everything, including the being of God. People tend to transform Christianity into a religion because the Christian faith obviously places people in an extremely uncomfortable position that of freedom guided only by love and all in the context of God’s radical demand that we be holy.” –Jacques Ellul

    “Christianity is NOT a religion; it is the proclamation of the end of religion. Religion is a human activity dedicated to the job of reconciling God to humanity and humanity to itself. The Gospel, however – the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the astonishing announcement that God has done the whole work of reconciliation without a scrap of human assistance. It is the bizarre proclamation that religion is over – period.” –Robert F. Capon

    Religion is a defense against the experience of God. –Carl Jung

    • Ah, yes. You’re a Universalist. While there are aspects of my faith that lean toward Universalism, I have not fully embraced it (and I don’t believe I can). So I can see where you think my view of salvation is works-based. After all, isn’t making a confession of faith, at some level, a work? So, off the bat, we’re not going to wholly agree on this.

      However, let me clarify just a bit. I do believe that salvation is by faith and faith alone. My post is more about how to feel secure in that salvation. A person who has accepted Christ, loves him and is following his few, simple commands has no reason to feel insecure. This is the ultimate point I was trying to make.

      At the same time, we know that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). What good is it for someone to come to the altar, confess Jesus as savior, and then continue unrepentant in gossip, adultery, unforgiveness, and abuse? Can we still call that person a Christian just because they prayed a prayer of faith? Perhaps they are saved, but they certainly aren’t justified (James 2:24) and not a disciple. Jesus said that if we love him, we’ll keep his commands, and by keeping his commands we remain in his love. So if we don’t keep his commands, do we say we hate him? If so, don’t we invite judgment upon ourselves? (After all, Jesus’ most scathing criticisms were leveled at religious people.)

      Also, I certainly wouldn’t call keeping the commands of Christ a dead religious activity. Is baptism dead? Or communion? Or loving one’s neighbor? All the dead parts were crucified with Christ; what remains is those parts that matter.

      (BTW, the unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. You can read more about it here:

      • Actually, I’m more of an inclusivist than a Universalist. I believe that the offer of Grace/Salvation is universal; but that God permits us the right of refusal. I am thinking of that painting of Jesus knocking at the door with the handle on the inside.

        The only reason I entertain the possibility that there will be no one in hell is that I cannot imagine anyone with a direct, unmediated experience of Divine Unconditional Love not wanting to be embraced by it.

        BTW, the concept of “hell” is being reconsidered in some traditions as more of a psychological/spiritual experience of alienation from God, our true selves and others than as a “place.” That makes sense to me since there is no space-time continuum in Eternity.
        Hell Is Getting A Makeover From Catholics; Jesuits Call It a Painful State But Not a Sulfurous Place
        Published: September 18, 1999

        In ”The Inferno,” Dante tells of his imagined journey into hell, his entry into a ”kingdom of eternal night” where he hears the voices of the damned rise ”in a bestial moan” and sees sinners stung by wasps, burnt by falling fire and frozen in a sheet of ice.
        For 700 years the poem has provided vivid inspiration to painters and preachers, who have kept alive a popular vision of perdition as a physical place of fire and brimstone, extraordinary torments and monsters. Many artists added their own ideas, such as Hieronymus Bosch, who in the 15th century painted a highly original vision of hell, a tableau of violence and excruciating tortures.
        But now the Catholic authorities in Rome have presented a strikingly different (and seemingly modern) picture of eternal damnation.
        By their account, hell is best understood as the condition of total alienation from all that is good, hopeful and loving in the world. What’s more, this condition is chosen by the damned themselves, the ultimate exercise of free will, not a punishment engineered by God.

        • Perhaps we agree more than I thought, then, because my beliefs lean more toward inclusivism than universalism. (I’ll admit, I’ve got a ways to go still on learning my theological terms.) I have had the thought that maybe hell is an emotional state than a physical one, and it may very well be. But either way, I wouldn’t want to end up there. I have suffered intense emotional pain in the past. I’ve learned it can be as bad or worse than physical pain. I think some people will end up in hell, but probably not very many and perhaps not forever.

  4. I still have a more Orthodox leaning of salvation, but I really like this post because it makes the point well that even from a protestant perspective, there is nothing in the Bible that says you have to be a good Christian or do this or maintain this do this this in order to be saved. When evangelicals say I have to do this and that, I always say, “guess you don’t really believe in salvation without works, do you?”

    • Lana, Evangelicals don’t believe in “works” to GET saved. They believe in “works” to STAY saved.

      That’s why, they are often so unconditionally loving and patient BEFORE you join their church and so Pharisaic after.
      After a couple of failed attempts to join a local church following 25 years of a healthy, transformative church experience, I have decided to remain an “active non-member” of a local church. I have learned that by not becoming a formal member I will not be subjected to the herd mentality expectations of either the pastoral staff or the laity.

      • Interesting story. Here’s mine. I have been protestant for 26 years before moving to a more progressive form of Christianity and finally I am slowly rejecting evangelicalism. A lot of protestants believe that belief isn’t enough. You must also not believe in works, not believe tongues is a necessary result of salvation (in other words, some people may speak it, but not all), not this, not that. In my book, that means grace is never enough. I burned out. But that’s not why I no longer consider myself evangelical. One day I just failed to see salvation as a sinners prayer or moment of time at all. I now see salvation as an experience of what has already taken place on the cross rather than regeneration. God bless.

        • Lana,

          Perhaps salvation is BOTH Christ’s work and the believer’s regeneration experience, a dying of the false self/Old Adam and a birthing of the true Christic self through union with God in Christ.

          “Becoming a Christian is not so much inviting Christ into one’s life as getting oneself into Christ’s life.” ~Orthodox Study Bible

          Link on Redemption or deification:

          I think living simultaneously with one foot in Eternity [in God we “live and move and have our being] and the other on earth [living within a space-time continuum] makes theological/spiritual understanding very difficult.

          I have always be fascinated by the biblical text that reveals Jesus as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8). This suggests that Eternal Life, whatever else it may be like, does not include time-sequencing and the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ in rooms where the door was locked suggests that space may not be experienced the same either.

        • 🙂 Love this. Exactly. I think salvation is us cooperating with God and allowing him to renew our spirit. Salvation is changing our minds about who God is and who Jesus is and really was.Thanks for hte link.

        • Protestantism interprets salvation as primarily a juridical event, being justified under the law that must be accomplished before we can be reconciled with God.

          Actually, God’s unconditional love does away with any need for justification. Whether it is Christ’s fulfillment of the demands of the Law or ours, the error of putting Law before Grace remains.

          “The typical moralist sees grace as a means to fulfill a commandment. He puts the commandment in the first place and sees the difference of Old and New Testaments in the observance of the Decalogue. In the Old Testament they did not have the grace to keep the commandments; now in the New Testament they have sufficient grace if they use all the means, the sacraments, and so on. This is an anthropocentric, moralistic approach which makes the grace of Christ and finally Christ Himself only the means for the law, for the commandments . But primacy is not the law, the commandments “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”; the primacy is our Lord, who in his grace, his tremendous love, comes to encounter us.” –Bernard Haering, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Moral Theologian

          “Core moral concepts, such as freedom, conscience, obedience, and fidelity, can have very different meanings and importance. These differing meanings depend on if our concern is with conformity, fulfilling norms, and subordination, or instead if our focus is radical thinking infused with the spirit of God blowing as it wills and marked by grown-up, freely affirmed responsibility.” –Bernard Haering, The Virtues of an Authentic Life (1997), p. 53

          “A moral theology built on the authentic Gospel will be a far cry from a stoical morality built on duty and obligation, both deduced from some cosmic law of nature.” –Fr. Joseph Oppitz, C.Ss.R, Autumn Memoirs of St. Alphonsus Liguori

        • The thing is, that justification, according to Galatians 2:20 happened 2000 years ago, before I was born. “I have been crucified with Christ. Its no longer I who live.” Past perfect tense in the greek.

        • Ah, yes, the process of translating Greek into Latin has separated the Western Church from several NT revelations:

          Four Walls Separating Us from the New Testament
          Four crises separate Western Christians on the one hand from the New Testament writers and Eastern Christians on the other. If we understand these crises and the effects they had, we can attempt to “roll them back” in our minds and understand the New Testament more clearly.
          The New Testament is in Greek, which has a large philosophical vocabulary that Latin lacks. Ecumenical councils used Greek as the working language; then they made an official translation into Latin for use in the West. Many of the most heated debates were about which Latin words best conveyed the meaning of the Greek resolution they had already agreed on. Because Greek philosophical concepts had to be translated into Latin legal concepts, theology in the West took on the character of codified law after the West lost Greek. To this day, Orthodox theologians reason like rabbis, while western theologians reason like lawyers.
          Augustine accused Pelagius of teaching salvation by works
          Western Christians are obsessed with not being saved by works
          Western Christians deemphasize ascetic disciplines and exercises
          Spirituality becomes a set of mental acts
          Salvation is rescue from hell, rather than transformation into glory
          Determinism enters some parts of western theology from Manichaeism through Augustine

          Theology moved from the monastery to the university
          Western theology is an intellectual discipline rather than a mystical pursuit
          Western theology is over-systematized
          Western Theology is systematized, based on a legal model rather than a philosophical model
          Western theologians debate like lawyers, not like rabbis
          Catholic reformers were excommunicated and formed Protestant churches
          Western churches become guarantors of theological schools of thought
          Western church membership is often contingent on fine points of doctrine
          Some western Christians believe that definite beliefs are incompatible with tolerance
          The atmosphere arose in which anyone could start a church
          The legal model for western theology intensifies despite the rediscovery of the East

          Philosophers founded empirical sciences
          Western theologians attempt to apply empiricism to theology
          Western theologians agonize over the existence of God
          Western theologians lose, deemphasize, neglect, marginalize, or explain away the supernatural
          Western theologians no longer have coherent answers for many practical religious questions
          Western churches outsource the treatment of religious problems to secular therapists

          East and West
          Western Christians are obsessed with not being saved by works
          Western Christians deemphasize ascetic disciplines and exercises
          Spirituality becomes a set of mental acts
          Salvation is rescue from hell
          The emphasis is on the cross
          Determinism enters some parts of western Christian theology

          Works express faith, faith gives birth to works
          Eastern Christians engage in fasting and other spiritual disciplines
          Spirituality involves both mind and body
          Salvation is transformation into glory
          The emphasis is on resurrection and transformation
          Determinism never entered Christian theology

          Western theology is primarily an intellectual discipline by professors
          Western theology is over-systematized

          Western theology is based on a legal model
          Western theologians debate like lawyers

          Eastern theology is primarily a mystical pursuit by monastics
          Eastern theology is not as strictly systematized; for example, the number of sacraments is not set and is not controversial
          Eastern theology is based on a philosophical model
          Eastern theologians debate like rabbis

          Western churches became guarantors of theological schools of thought
          Western church membership is often contingent on fine points of doctrine
          Some western Christians believe that definite beliefs are incompatible with tolerance
          The atmosphere arose in which anyone could start a church

          Eastern theology, while holding more strictly than western theology on basic dogmas, is tolerant of differences of opinions on finer points
          Eastern church membership is contingent on commitment and behavior
          Eastern Christians have no difficulty maintaining definite beliefs while remaining tolerant.
          There was nothing corresponding to the Protestant Reformation and there is no proliferation of sects within the mainstream

          Western Christians see a dichotomy of spirit and matter
          Western theologians attempt to apply empiricism to theology
          Western theologians agonize over the existence of God
          Western theologians have lost, deemphasized, neglected, marginalized, or explained away the supernatural and miraculous
          Western theologians no longer have coherent answers for many practical religious questions (such as during bereavement)
          Western churches outsource the treatment of religious problems, such as bereavement, to secular therapists

          Eastern Christians see a dichotomy of God and creation
          Eastern theologians are largely unaffected by modernism
          Eastern theologians do not agonize over the existence of God
          Eastern theologians systematize the transcendent, the miraculous, and the mystical into their theology, without a concept of ‘supernatural’
          Eastern theologians have coherent and helpful answers for most practical spiritual problems (such as during bereavement)
          Eastern clergy, monastics, and lay experts have resources for spiritual direction, moral direction, and Eastern clergy, monastics, and lay experts have resources for spiritual direction, moral direction, and bereavement counseling; thus they do not outsource religious problems to secular experts.

  5. Not that it matters but I thought I’d bring it up.

    And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:42-43

    Just curious how this stacks up with what you’ve written. (I meant to include this, but I guess I hoped someone else would have brought it up.)


    • I think it stacks up quite nicely. Notice what’s occurring here. The criminal is acknowledging Jesus as Messiah. He calls Jesus “Lord” and speaks of his heavenly kingdom. If you read a couple of verses before this, you see the criminal confessing his sin: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (vs 41). So, here, he fulfills the two requirements for salvation: belief and confession.

    • Well, if you think about it, he did keep some of Christ’s commands. You can’t really commit adultery while you’re nailed to a cross.

      I personally believe that salvation is by faith and confession alone. Works, by themselves, can’t save. However, Jesus did say that Christians are to follow his commands; those who don’t fall into danger of judgment. My point in this post is to show that a person who has made a confession of faith and is keeping Christ’s commands has no reason to feel insecure in their salvation. Those who confess faith but then continue sinning like nothing has changed may have something to fear. As the apostles said, faith without works is dead (James 2:17). And Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 7:21).

      • If a person professes to have faith,” but then keeps on sinning like nothing has changed” doesn’t really have faith. S/He has beliefs.

        “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” –Oswald Chambers

        “Belief is reassuring. People who live in the world of belief feel safe. On the contrary, faith is forever placing us on the razor’s edge.” –Jacques Ellul

        “Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this.” –John Wesley

    • Absolutely! That’s ultimately what matters. I think that episode with the thief on the cross reveals just how merciful and forgiving Jesus is–that he’ll let a repentant criminal into heaven when others would not.