My son asked me this question the other night. I said, “Sure buddy. He absolutely could. Jesus says that no one knows the day or the hour, so be ready.” My son thought for a second. Then he said, “Remind me what it means to believe in Jesus again.” So I reminded him of the gospel and explained that it’s about putting all your hope and trust in Christ alone for salvation. His response: “But how do I know that I believe?” He was having a six-year old existential crisis.
To be clear, my son knows all of the right answers about the gospel. He has heard of Christ’s death for our sin and resurrection for our justification many many times. He knows that it’s not by works, but by grace through faith that he can be saved. His struggle wasn’t to understand the information, his crisis was about faith. How could he be sure he had genuine faith? (Isn’t it amazing how children can say the things out loud that so many adults only ever say in their minds?) Where was I going to direct him? How was I going to help him to know whether he truly believed or not? Here are two ways that I tried to help my son.
Point To The Promises
When people struggle with assurance, it’s not wrong to ask them to test themselves, and “see whether [they] are in the faith” (2 Cor 13:5). People often have an aversion to this type of question, yet God’s word let’s us know that we must be discerning. But, if we’re not careful, we can point people to evaluate their faith to the point that they start having faith in their faith. What I mean is, they’re so busy evaluating if they have genuine faith, that they forget what they are even putting their faith in. They become consumed with navel-gazing to the point that they lose sight of who God is. They need to be pointed to the promises of God. Promises like these: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved… and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:9, 13). Even when my faith is weak, I know my God is faithful. So I pointed my little boy to the promises. He needed to evaluate his faith less, and put his eyes on the promises more, because that’s where real faith comes from (Rom 10:17).
And as people put their eyes on the promises, they need to pray. Faith, like everything else in life, is impossible apart from Christ (John 15:5). Faith is a gift (Eph 2:8), therefore we need to cry out to God for genuine faith. This is not, “pray this prayer, say the magic words, click your heels together, and you’re saved.” This is the wrestling, persistent prayer like the widow in Luke 18. And it is no coincidence that what follows in Luke 18 is a parable about a man crying out, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13), Jesus saying, “let the children come to me” (Luke 18:16), a confirmation that salvation is “impossible with man,” but “possible with God” (Luke 18:27), and Jesus healing a blind man who cried to him persistently, “Son of David, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:39). God loves to answer prayer, especially the persistent prayer for mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ. So I told my son to pray, often, until He had an answer.
The fact that Jesus is coming back soon should cause every person to have the same introspection as my son. “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:44). But the goal of that introspection is to confirm whether you are ready or not. Do you have genuine faith? If not, then put your eyes on the promises and cry out to the Lord to open your eyes to the truth of those promises. If you do find, weak as you are, that God has granted you true faith and repentance, then “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22). Look not to the weakness of your faith, but rather the strength of the faithful One. Rejoice in His salvation. The Son of Man is coming. Are you ready?
© Jacob Crouch 2023