I was listening to In the Market with Janet Parshall on Kinship Radio last week when a lady called in and said, “I don’t feel like I’m saved.”
And I’m certain that everyone listening knew she was in tears when she said it.
I’m also sure I’m not the only one whose soul shed a tear for her.
How is it that Jesus could die for her sins, secure eternal life for her, give her the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of that salvation and a restored relationship with God Himself and she would not live in the joy and the fulness of life that was intended for her from the beginning of time?
And yet, I have met countless Christians who struggle with this. They are consumed with doubt and worry and feelings of inadequacy– and they tend to quench the fire of the Holy Spirit in other Christians around them.
I have numerous pastor friends who have whole congregations who can barely generate enough enthusiasm for a pot blessing much less tell someone else about how Jesus changed their life.
I know a young lady who was trained as a missionary and had spent over a year in China doing the work of the Lord. I’d stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her feeding the hungry, rebuilding homes destroyed by flood, and preaching hope to the hopeless. She had denied herself, fasted, and prayed frequently and she still struggled with fear that at some point Jesus would look her in the eye and say, “Away from me, I never knew you.”
I know a pastor who related while preaching one Sunday that she clearly heard a voice saying in the middle of her sermon, “I know who you are. I know what you’ve done. Who do you think you are saying those things?”
And there it is.
We know whose voice that is. The devil is certainly not greater than the power of Jesus, but he can and does sow doubt and lies.
Yes, lies from the father of lies. Lies designed to make us ineffective, to quench the fire of the Holy Spirit in us, to make us spread worry and doubt and fear not just in our own lives, but in the lives of others.
Now, I did not sit down to write this and start a whole big debate on the Perseverance of the Saints. (Which was actually the topic of that Janet Parshall show.) I believe God does not negate our free will, hence we can walk away from Him if we so choose. But, He is also able to strengthen us and help us in times of doubt and fear and keep us in the faith. John 10: 27-29 reads:
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” (NLT)
And then there’s Romans 8:38-39:
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NLT)
Recently, I noticed a change in the young lady I wrote about above. She became filled with joy and absolutely reveled in the power of the love of Jesus Christ in her life. As I prepared to write this, I asked her what had changed in her, given that she had spent years struggling with the inadequacy of her service to Him.
She said it was the blood of Jesus. She said she had never felt fully washed and cleansed, that she hadn’t really and truly believed that the blood of Jesus took away all her sins. She said that what she needed was to acknowledge that the blood was enough and then live like it.
She also said that may not be the same for all Christians.
And she’s right. The devil had been whispering lies to her and he whispers the lies that are most effective against each of us through trial and error.
For me, I knew the Bible verses and I believed them, but I didn’t realize how much more Jesus had in store for me and my relationship with Him
Then one day, when I was on a mission trip in the Dominican Republic, I was thanking one of our hosts for taking care of me and another member of the mission team when we were sick and she said something like, “De nada. Fue hecho con amo.”
Now, at that point, as I stood there with almost zero ability to speak or understand Spanish and a two-dollar English/Spanish dictionary in my hand, I did know that “De nada” meant “You’re welcome.” (Actually, the literal translation is, “It’s nothing.”) And I knew that last word, “amo” meant “love.”
And, in that moment, when I realized what she had said and the meaning of that word, “love,” it was like the door posts and the lintels in the throne room of heaven started shaking and the power of God’s love in Jesus Christ grabbed hold of the very foundations of my soul and flooded me with a revelation of the magnitude of that awesome, over-powering, universe-shattering love. I stood there, speechless, absolutely overcome by the power of that moment.
I have never been the same before or since.
I have never doubted my salvation or His power since.
So, how do we get the lady who called into Janet Parshall or any ordinary Christian into a situation where the Holy Spirit can shake them to their core? What is it that will do that? How do we share that with others and help them into that “next level?”
For me and my young missionary friend, the answer is love. For me, it was the actual word “love” even though it was in another language. For my friend, it was the love that poured out that blood for her.
Because the devil absolutely hates relentless, never-ending, all-powerful love of Jesus Christ.
If you have a story of how the Holy Spirit moved in your life and brought about a deeper relationship with Jesus, please share that in the comments.
“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (NLT)
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I am dealing with the very issue with my 90-year-old mother-in-law, who has known the Lord virtually all of her life. A part of me is shocked that she can have these kinds of doubts at this stage of her game. But I have also come to realize that if this woman of God can fall prey to the depth of doubt she has confessed then I and every other believer must be on guard and ready to stand. I can say that it has led to some very sweet conversations about faith and what it means to be saved and kept in Christ…and I am encouraged that she always seems to be more hopeful and encouraged herself when I leave then when I arrived. Doubt is something that all of us have to deal with in our faith walk, so it is best to understand the tactics of our soul’s enemy and be ready to combat it with gospel truth. Thanks for this reminder, Dan, and God bless you, buddy!