SAVED OR SELF-DECEIVED

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By Hudson Johnson

I do not think that there was ever a moment in my life that I questioned the existence of God. I always believed that he did indeed exist, but I hated him for it. I was in love with my lusts and at war with his truth that condemned my sin-loving soul. This was the state I was in until the summer before my sophomore year of high school. It was at this time that I underwent a fairly dramatic change, for this is when I heard the gospel and called upon the Lord. My life was changed.

I began to love what I once hated and hate what I once loved. It felt as if my life was forever going to be well. That is, until some Wednesday night in November. It was at this time that my youth pastor was preaching a sermon on various prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus and how staggering it was that they were spoken hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. His purpose in this sermon was to encourage and strengthen our faith by means of these fulfilled prophecies. To no fault of my youth pastor, with each prophecy he mentioned came a terrifying thought: does God actually exist? Or is all of this just deception? I was horrified. This deafening question roared inside my mind and left me questioning my newfound God.

The next day I went to my first period class at school, Latin, and was still haunted by this question. It affected me to the extent that I was physically shaking and could barely talk. My teacher took notice and as I was packing up my stuff at the end of class she came over, put her hand on my shoulder, and asked something along the lines of, “Is everything okay?” I never thought I was a very emotional person, but the weight of that question came crashing down on me all at once, and I broke down and cried like a child. I was such a wreck that I was sent home for the day.

That day marked the beginning of my long fight with doubt. That question concerning the reality of the existence of God tormented me for around 6 to 12 months. I never thought that it could get any worse, but it seems as though I was wrong. My struggle with the reality of whether or not God was real morphed into the question of whether or not I was really a Christian. It was when I read the frightening words of Matthew chapter 7 that the question of true conversion arose – Matthew 7:21 states, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Where I once struggled with the doubts of whether or not God is real, I now struggled through the doubts of whether or not I was truly a converted, born-again Christian.

This lasted for years – even into my time here in college. Throughout this season of doubt, I agonized over whether or not I had the authentic fruits of conversion, or if I had repented enough, or if had enough faith or even believed rightly. I was stuck in an introspective downward spiral. I wish I could say that God worked a miraculous deliverance in the blink of an eye, granting me that assurance for which I longed. But he didn’t. God thought that it would be better to do something else.

I remember hearing a sermon when the pastor used the phrase “outside us” to describe the nature of salvation. His point was that salvation is entirely found in Christ. So regardless of whether or not I feel like a Christian does not negate the work that Christ has already accomplished on my behalf. Now, this is not to say that all my problems went away the moment I discovered this truth, but rather it has been a gradual realization that my acceptance with God is wholly found in Christ. So, God has shown and is still showing me that my feelings are an insufficient measure for ultimately determining the reality of my faith, and that Christ is the wholly sufficient and external foundation for my salvation. God has shown and is showing me that truth lies in him and is not negated by my wrestling with doubt.

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