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Johnny knocked on the door of Pastor Kenny’s office.

“Come on in,” responded the pastor. He knew who it was before the door opened. Johnny had called him the day before and said he wanted to sit down with him because he had some “spiritual questions” he was wrestling with.

“How have you been, buddy?” the pastor asked as he stood up and gave Johnny a big hug. “Well, that’s a great question. I guess I’ve been struggling a bit lately if I’m being honest.”

Johnny never wasted any time. He got straight to the point as he and the pastor took their seats on opposite sides of the desk.

“Well, tell me, what’s going on?” Pastor Kenny asked with a concerned look on his face.

“I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my relationship with God lately.”

“Well, that’s wonderful,” the pastor quickly interjected with a smile on his face.

“I guess so,” Johnny replied. “But I guess the question I’ve been wrestling with is, how does a person know if they are truly saved?”

The pastor’s demeanor quickly changed from a warm smile to a look of concern. “Johnny, are you asking this question because you’re questioning if you are truly saved?”

Johnny hesitated for a second but then answered. “Yeah, I guess I am.”

The look of concern quickly shifted to a subtle smile on the pastor’s face, “Johnny, I have known you for years. Heck, I’m the one who baptized you when you were seven years old. Remember?” Johnny nodded in agreement.

“Johnny, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and he died for your sins?” the pastor asked in a friendly but slightly condescending tone.

“Yes,” Johnny replied.

“Have you asked Him to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins?” the pastor asked with eyebrows slightly raised as if he already knew the answer.

“Yeah, but...” Johnny paused for a split second as he tried to find the words.

But before he could get the words out. The pastor interjected emphatically.

Johnny! If you believe those things and you have asked Jesus into your heart, then you are saved. This is an attack from the Devil. The Devil is trying to get you to doubt your salvation. That’s what he does. I have seen this a thousand times. He’s always trying to get believers to doubt their salvation. Don’t let him do it!”

Although Johnny still had unanswered questions, he let out a sigh of relief as he heard those words from his pastor. After all, he had known Pastor Kenny for years and always looked up to him as a father in the faith.

Johnny was a “normal Christian.” He hadn’t studied the Bible for years like Pastor Kenny had. He quietly thought to himself, I must be interpreting those passages wrong.

Johnny thanked his pastor for taking the time to meet with him and answer his questions, they enjoyed some small talk, and Johnny left.

Dear friend, this conversation is taking place every single day, and I am convinced it is sending more souls to Hell than quite possibly any other conversation of our age.

Every day men open the Word and read the stories of Jesus, and say to themselves, “Maybe I’m missing something here.

Maybe this isn’t as simple as that prayer I recited when I was seven years old. Maybe I’m not truly saved!” As they read, the Holy Spirit pleads with their hearts and minds to examine themselves before it’s too late. These men find themselves troubled in their soul, as they should, and they reach out to a friend or pastor whom they trust for counsel. They walk away, headed straight to the gates of Hell, with a smile on their face, rebuking the Devil all the way there. The enemy walks alongside them and laughs as he ponders the fact that men actually fall for this trick.

There is no doubt that the enemy wants genuine believers to doubt their salvation. Of course, he does. But of much greater importance to him is giving assurance of salvation to men who do not have it. Once a man is saved, he has lost him for good. But the man who is not a believer but thinks he is, this one he will have for all of eternity.

Have we considered the words of Paul to the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Cor.13:5)

Have we understood the words of Jesus Himself? He said that MANY would show up on that day saying “Lord, Lord.” believing they are in relationship with Him, only to hear those terrifying words. “Away from Me, I never knew you.” (Mathew 7:23) We miss the entire reason He spoke these words in the first place! Isn’t He urging us to examine ourselves now, before that day, while there is still time? Shouldn’t we ponder the fact that the deceived never actually believe they are deceived and thereby ask ourselves, could I be deceived? Didn’t he tell the story so that men would agonize and wrestle with these words as they examine what it means to truly believe and if their faith has produced genuine fruit? I believe so!

Every unbeliever will suffer greatly on that day as they stand before the Judge. But I am convinced that the shock for those who thought they were believers, only to find out they had been deceived, will be a moment of horror far worse than any other.

There is no man on this earth qualified to give another man assurance of his faith. The very thought of this causes me to tremble within myself. When a man does that, he has stood in the place of God and made himself Judge. He has proven he does not understand the Scriptures. He will undoubtedly lead many men to Hell, and he will be judged for these actions.

My friend, self-examination and the conviction of the Holy Spirit are precious and beautiful works. They are the tools of the Holy Spirit that lead men into eternal life. They are the tools by which He leads His children to greater levels of repentance and conformity to His nature. And they are, in fact, the tools by which He gives us one of the most precious gifts of all on this side of Heaven, the assurance of our faith!

If you would like to read a follow-up to this article, check out my blog post, “What does it mean to believe?” at


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