Some people have those dramatic salvation testimonies where they were living a life totally indulging in all sorts of sin and then one day had a radical eye-opening experience and completely changed. I’m not one of those types of people.
Some people walk a church aisle, write a date down in their Bibles, and never doubt their salvation. I’m not one of those either.
For me, I don’t know when I became a Christian.
At times that was disconcerting to me, but no longer.
Born into a church-going family, I have always gone to church. My whole entire 41 years. Covid was the first time ever that week after week I didn’t enter a church building. When I was four, I distinctly remember going to my dad and praying a prayer for salvation. Within a year or so, I was baptized. Yet, when I was in middle school, doubts came. Eventually, I walked an aisle, prayed another salvation prayer, and was baptized again (this was not a rare occurrence among young people in my circle). And, yet, a few years later, though people viewed me as godly, I knew inside I was disregarding God’s commands and living for my own pleasures. However, after some time I found myself once again seeking and obeying God. And, yet when I finally landed in my current church almost 14 years ago, the preaching opened my eyes to more truth, leaving me to wonder if I had ever really been saved. At this point, I realized I had no idea when I truly became a Christian. Yet, when I examined my life and desires, I knew that I loved God and wanted to please Him. I had fruit that testified I was a Christian but no experience to point back to with certainty that could testify I was a Christian.
Perhaps this is the course for those of us who grow up saturated in Scripture and church culture. We perhaps never have a defining moment that clearly takes us from the path of destruction over to the straight and narrow leading to eternal life.
Though I did struggle for a time with lacking a known transformative moment, I now know that it really doesn’t matter if one remembers a moment or not. What matters is our obedience to God’s commands today. I am not speaking of a works salvation. Instead, I have in mind the troubling words Christ spoke in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Even if I knew an exact moment in time of when I became a Christian, my memory is not sufficient to comfort me and assure me of my salvation. Some claiming to be Christians will be met with a shocking rejection by God on judgment day. Consequently, all of us need to examine ourselves to determine if we truly are in the faith as it says in II Corinthians 13:5: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
I John is a wonderful book for self-examination. For starters, I John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” God isn’t looking for a date written in a Bible to claim us as His child. Our standing with God is secure because of Jesus’ obedience to the point of death on a cross and our obedience in response to that immeasurable love.