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All or nothing: my 48 year struggle with the matter of salvation

Discussion in 'Struggles by Non-Christians' started by Bob8102, Mar 3, 2022.

  1. Bob8102

    Bob8102 Member

    United States
    I have been struggling with the matter of salvation for 48 years, so excuse me if this is a little long. I plan to have the following text translated into Spanish so I can read it to my girlfriend, who, like me, is APPARENTLY a Christian.

    the ocd christian needs to know that salvation occurs in a moment and that salvation is forever. i know these things. but not all of my questions about christianity have yet been answered. i plan to go on a christian forums website tomorrow and ask the following question. i would understand some things about the christian life are understood fully as soon as one becomes a christian and others are gradually understood over time. the bible says that believers are not their own but that they were bought with a price. my question is: does a believer realize all at once, as soon as they become a believer, that they are not their own? or does this realizarion grow gradually over time? i understand myself to be a christian even though i do not know the answer to this question. yet it is an important question. some people differentiate between people who are saved and disciples. they say one can be saved without being a disciple. i'm suspicious of that viewpoint. i have understood that, in order to be saved, one has to fully, unreservedly give their life to christ. one cannot give five percent of their life today, a further five percent tomorrow, a further five percent the day after tomorrow, and so on, until after twenty days, they have given their full life to christ. i understand it is all or nothing, all at once. yet, christians say that a believer grows in faith over time. they say that as one continues the christian walk, the holy spirit brings more and more of their life under his control. my brother heard it said this way: in order to become a believer, one must give all that they know of themselves to all that they know of jesus christ. then, the idea is, as they grow in christ, the holy spirit will reveal to them more of their sinfulness and they will surrender more of their life to him. my question is, how aware is a new christian of the fact that he or she is not their own, but were bought with a price, when they first become a christian, versus how aware are they of this later in their christian life? i do not actually know what it is like to not be one's own. i'm not quite sure what that means. i understand one is supposed to live for jesus and not for one's self. but how that works out in moment-by-moment, daily life, i'm not sure. my brother heard that at conversion, one should give all that they know of themselves to all that they know of jesus christ. but i do not know all of myself. the bible says that the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, who can know it? so if i cannot even know the depths of my own heart, how can i give all of my heart to jesus? i believe in salvation-in-a-moment. but if one has to give their whole heart to jesus and they cannot know much of their own heart, how can they give their whole heart to jesus? they would have to give some of their heart now, and as they learn more about their own heart, they could give more of it to him later. therefore, it would seem salvation is a process that you never reach the end of. salvation would not occur in a moment, in that case. but the bible clearly supports salvation-in-a-moment.

    If I had to answer this question myself, I would say that one consciously surrenders themselves to christ’s control at conversion. Then, over time, the holy spirit will make them more aware of parts of their life that they did not really surrender at conversion. But then it seems somewhat tricky to know if you have fully surrendered. When considering my own need to come to christ, I like to make it simple. I like to consider those verses that portray instant conversion to christ. Like the woman at the well, and like the man who found that jesus had already healed his son the day before, and the bible says “then he believed and his whole household.” I don’t tend to like complicated conversion confrontations, like Nicodemus and the rich, young ruler. Yet I have imagined myself as the rich young ruler. I have imagined the rich young ruler as realizing that he is not YET ready to follow christ, but simultaneously realizing that if he does not follow christ, he is going to hell. So then, he can go on with his life, realizing he is going to hell. That would be a picture of me and my life for several decades. He would be aware of his future destiny in hell, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. That realization would constantly be hanging over his head. It would color his whole perspective. It would color his whole life. As he lived on, life events would happen, such as the death of family members. Eventually, this realization about hell would impact him severely enough that he would begin a serious search for salvation. He would become obsessed with salvation and become dysfunctional as long as he understands that he remains outside the kingdom of heaven. In desperation, he would seek that moment of conversion and the relief it would bring.

    That is a picture of my life. I have been on a full-time quest for salvation since at least my mother’s death, eleven years ago. I have supposedly given my life to christ on many occasions. But then there always comes the doubt: did I really mean it? Am I really saved? I would follow suggestions to write down the date, and possibly the time, of conversion. The idea is to have that handy in case I doubt later. Sometimes, years later, I find some of these written dates. I can remember finding one in a drawer with the year 2014 on it. That was 8 years ago. Sometimes I am so sure I have really given my life to christ that I figure, “this is it! I’m not going to doubt again!” but an expert on religious ocd says that a` person with it will be sure one day, then a few days later, totally doubt it. With ocd, present doubt is always stronger than a past memory.

    I was so sure I had given my life to Christ on Monday, February 28, that I declared, to Jesus, to myself and to my girlfriend, that all future doubts about my salvation were to be bounced off that date, February 28. That rhymes in English, so it is easy to remember: “All future doubts about my salvation are to be bounced off that date, February twenty-eight.” But, yesterday, while not strongly doubting my salvation, I considered the verse which says, “you are not your own, you were bought with a price.” Most of my life, I have considered myself my own. The idea of not being my own is a foreign and objectionable concept. So, I began to think about the concept of being a Christian, but viewing “you are not your own” as a foreign and objectionable concept. I realize that is a contradiction in terms. As I continued thinking, I thought that many things about the Christian walk and life are probably discovered gradually over time by the believer; they are not fully realized at the moment of conversion. Being not one’s own may be one of these things that dawns on the believer gradually. Yet, on the one hand, I could consider that seeing “not my own” as an objectionable concept could mean I am not a Christian. On the other hand, “all future doubts about my salvation are to be bounced off that date, February twenty-eight.”

    I realize that you have to give your all to Jesus to become a believer, to be saved, to not be headed for hell. Yet you can be saved in a moment. How much of yourself, and how much all there is to know about the Christian life and walk, can be taken into account in a single moment of conversion?
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2022
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  2. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member Supporter

    United Kingdom
    There is nothing wrong with having doubts or questions. What is totally wrong is doing nothing about finding the answers to ones doubts or questions.
    The Christian life is Not, Ever 'just have faith or just believe.'

    We are always to be able to give a reason for our faith and that means knowing what and why we believe.

    However you also suffer from OCD, and frequently part of that condition is ' intrusive thoughts ' !
    You have to learn to recognise an intrusive thought and how to deal with them.

    Please look up the web site '25 tips on how to successfully trat your OCD.'
    lRead it several times and share with your family, friends, your doctor, therapist and your minister.
    It will help them to help you.

    Point 4 talks about intrusive thoughts, that one does not talk with, debate, argue or try to suppress them.
    Instead one acknowledges them and moves on.

    example, a thought occurs to you, ' If you post on forums you are not a proper christian!'
    All you do is say " Yes that is right! " and pay it no more attention, just get on with what you are doing.

    As for whether you are a Christian. You have committed your life to Jesus, so get on with living for him, get involved with your church, read the bible, pray etc etc
  3. A_Thinker

    A_Thinker Well-Known Member Supporter

    Becoming a christian is, simply, making friends with Jesus ... which is as simple as saying "yes" to Him when He says ...

    "Come to Me, all of you who struggle and are burdened down ... and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

    The rest of the christian life is, simply, being a good friend to Jesus ... and letting Him be a good friend to you. Jesus' friends ... get to spend eternity with Him.

    The part about you not being your own ... has to do with what Jesus and His Father had to do ... to get YOU to pay attention to Him. It is just a reminder to Jesus' friends ... of just how much He loves us ...
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2022
  4. Aussie Pete

    Aussie Pete Well-Known Member Supporter

    The salvation experience is unique to each individual. Matthew was a tax collector, so was Zacchaeus. Their salvation experiences were different. Some Christians have a tremendous zeal for God almost from the moment they are saved. Spurgeon was preaching at the age of 19. Watchman Nee likewise went full time preaching. Billy Graham was also preaching from a young age.

    Others show promise early but take a long time to mature. Some seem never to go anywhere.

    "Revelation" means "unveiling". A sculptor would hide his work behind a curtain. When the sculptor had finished his work, he would slowly raise the curtain. God's salvation is complete. However, each individual Christian has to see it for himself. God will "unveil" His finished work to us. We need to ask Him so that we may see. It takes a lifetime, but it is essential if we are to progress as believers. God is far more willing to show us than we are willing to be shown.
  5. timf

    timf Regular Member

    I sounds like your quest is not so much for salvation but rather assurance of salvation.

    The gospel is foolishness to those that are perishing. Do you feel the gospel is foolish?

    People will know that you are a Christian because of the love you have for other Christians. Do you have this love?

    The wrath of God comes upon those who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Do you hold the truth in unrighteousness?

    We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. Do you sense his presence or observe his work in your life?

    Jesus said that all who were of the truth would hear his voice. When you read the words of Jesus do you see that they are true?

    Consider the evidence that Jesus had sent to John the Baptist who was asking if Jesus was the Messiah. If John the Baptist could be uncertain, I think we all might have occasional doubts. Our faith is strengthened by the certainty we have of who Jesus is and what he did.

    We have his promises and can build our faith on that solid foundation.

    SANTOSO Well-Known Member

    Beloved one! Are you concerned whether you belong to the Lord ? This, we heard:

    “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.
    Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
    ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    So do you have the Spirit of Christ? If you have, you are His. If you don’t have, you are not His.

    Beloved one! Do you know how we may know whether we have the Spirit of Christ?

    This is what we have heard Jesus our Lord Himself said:

    “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭6:63‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    So we know we have the Spirit of Christ if we have the words that Christ speaks to us.

    Where we have the word that Christ speaks to us ?

    We heard apostle Paul said to us:
    “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

    So if we are not in the flesh, we are in the Spirit, that is, we are in the words that Christ speaks to us. So if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in us, the words that Christ speaks to us, dwell in us.

    So we know we belong to the Lord if we have the words that Christ speaks to us, dwell in our hearts.

    So have the words that Christ speaks to you, dwell in your heart?

    If you have the words that Christ speaks to you dwell in your heart, you have the Spirit of Christ. If you have the Spirit of Christ in you, you will know that you are His.

    Selah ( Reflect to pause )

    To God the Father be thanksgiving through Christ. Amen.
  7. 1watchman

    1watchman Overseer Supporter

    You are much right, though I doubt the poster has truly RECEIVED the Lord Jesus --only accepting the concept of Him. A relationship means to have received and be trusting the Lord Jesus as one's Savior and Lord of their life (as John 3:16; John 14; etc.) ---and should be walking and talking with Him daily. I have not seen that in what was posted. -1watchman
  8. Lukaris

    Lukaris Orthodox Christian Supporter

    United States
    Eastern Orthodox
    I think Colossians 1 sums up much of Christian faith which is to be lived out basically by practicing charity & daily prayer as the Lord says in Matthew 6:1-15. The basic same commandments the Lord gave the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-19 are repeated by St. Paul in Romans 13:8-10.

    I think Solomon sums up the old covenant of keeping the commandments prior to the Gospel ( Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). What Solomon said is fulfilled and part of the Gospel and included that we are to love God & keep His commandments ( Deuteronomy 6:1-7). The thing is God was only known in His awesome majesty whereas as the Son, He became one of us ( John 1:1-3, John 1:14-16). We now have a living relationship because of Jesus Who sends the Spirit Who proceeds from the Father ( John 15:26) as He calls us to keep the commandments ( John 14:15-18).
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2022
  9. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

    I think one ought to understand that this is the nature of the "deal" they are entering into with God. But the full scope of what it means will only reveal itself over time.

    One is saved, in part, unto the life of a disciple. Many today are not told that this is the case, but are encouraged to see salvation as mere "fire insurance." And so, they live according to their understanding, thinking they are saved but oblivious to the life of a disciple of Christ into which all of God's children are called.

    One gives oneself (which is probably what you mean by "life") to God to use as He sees fit; but the unfolding of what that means is a day-by-day revelation. And as the Holy Spirit penetrates deeper and deeper into your life over time, revealing places in your mind and heart that need to be consciously yielded to him, you come to be more fully given over to God. It's impossible that this could be a total, once-for-all event, complete and entire in a single moment. There are regions of your life the Spirit has yet to show you are not his, regions to which you are largely oblivious.

    Yes, this is correct. I don't see any other way to move forward with God.

    Salvation is coming into relationship with God through Christ. Jesus is himself our salvation; we are not saved by a process. (1 John 5:11-12; Acts 4:12; John 14:6) In an instant, we come into this saving relationship but the effects of doing so emerge over the rest of our lives.

    Right. God's goal, though, in saving us is not merely our being kept from hell, but bringing us into communion - fellowship - with Himself. (1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13;14; 1 John 1:3) We are saved from damnation unto joyful communion with God.

    Full surrender is something into which God will bring you over time. Only He knows what that really is. and only He has the power to bring it to pass in your life. You surrender yourself to Him and He will move you into the fullness of that surrender. You aren't responsible for figuring out how to live in full surrender, only in consciously, throughout each day, yielding to God moving you into it.

    But where is moving toward God in any of this? Where is responding to His vast and undeserved mercy and grace? What you've described leads to fear, and legalism, and self-effort, not the joy and peace of fellowship with God. The fellow is moved by self-preservation, not the goodness of God.

    And this is because you've anchored your salvation in yourself rather than God. It is His faithfulness that is the vital thing, not yours; it is His love and grace that is key, not your sincerity or power of belief; you are saved because God always keeps His promises; you are saved because of Christ. You have very little to do with your salvation. You simply believe and receive.

    You can only be willing to be brought to such a place by God. You must trust that what God desires of you He will supply to you in the Person of His Spirit. He is the Key, not you, not "your giving all." (Philippians 2:13; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 1 Peter 5:10; Jude 1:24)
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2022
  10. Reasonable Christian

    Reasonable Christian Member

    United States
    I would ask the OP to consider what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. The thief expressed saving faith, and Jesus said "Today, you will be with me in Paradise." (Emphasis added.) He didn't say you will be with me in Paradise (Heaven) someday, maybe, if your faith matures enough and you acquire all the right knowledge. The process of sanctification -- becoming more like Christ -- is just that: a process. It's a necessary process, but it's separate from salivation. And it's about becoming more like Christ, not exactly like him, which is impossible.