February 06, 2020

What Should I Do When I Don't Feel Saved?

Nathan W. Bingham & W. Robert Godfrey
What Should I Do When I Don't Feel Saved?

Even those who have professed faith in Christ for decades can wrestle with guilt and doubt over their salvation. What should we do when we don’t feel saved? Today, W. Robert Godfrey brings biblical wisdom to bear on this personal subject.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: What should I do when I don't feel saved? Well, I'm joined here on the Ligonier campus by Ligonier's chairman and one of our teaching fellows, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. So, Dr. Godfrey, what should a Christian do when they don't feel saved?

DR. W. ROBERT GODFREY: Well, I'm assuming when you asked that question that the key word there is "feel." If you're a person who is not saved and don't feel saved, you should get saved. But, I suspect the origin of this question is more of the classic Reformed discussion of assurance. How do I gain assurance? And I think for the person really wrestling with that, they need to know clearly what it means to be saved. Do you recognize that you're a sinner who cannot save yourself? Do you recognize that only Jesus Christ can save you? And do you recognize that you connect with Jesus only by true faith, trusting Him to save you?

If you already know those things and believe those things and are still troubled, I think it's very important to find a reliable pastor who can help work with you. Very likely, if you believe you're a sinner, you believe Jesus is the Savior, you want to trust Him. Very likely, what you need is to be helped to know that you do trust Him, that when Jesus said, "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," it's a promise He means (see Matt. 11:28). It's not a promise that's complicated. It's not a promise that we should doubt, but we need to trust it. And I think a really reliable pastor could be tremendously helpful to a Christian who's wrestling with those sorts of problems.

BINGHAM: Is there a verse that you turn to regularly that encourages you with a promise of the gospel?

GODFREY: Well, I think we can turn to probably the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16: "For God so loved the world""God operates out of love for a world lost in sin""that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And that's a verse that should so encourage us. The Son is given. If we trust Him, if we turn to Him, if we rest in Him, we will have life. That's the promise.

Read John's gospel. It's reiterated over and over and over and over again. Jesus came to save sinners, and in a profound sense, to go on doubting that He would accept me is somewhat self-indulgent. It's causing the promise and the goodness of the Savior to be cast into doubt. We can't be so pious that we say: "I can't come. I can't come." He says: "Come. Those who come to me, I will in no wise cast out" (see John 6:37). And that's the promise that we really need to rest in.