Q. I have been saved since I was 11 years old. I am sure of it, I accepted the Lord, and I meant it. However, I have entered periods of doubt over the last four or five years. I think that they came on as a results of what I heard from an atheist. She said I believe in a fantasy, and that I believe in God and Jesus to make myself feel good about dying. I can’t seem to get these words out of my heart no matter how much I pray about it. What can I do to restore my faith? Am I still saved as I doubt? I feel so guilty and ashamed, and I do not even feel right about going to church while my mind works this way. I am too ashamed of my thoughts to share them with my pastor at this point.
A. I don’t know how old you are now, but it sounds to me like you’ve spent very little time studying God’s Word since you became a believer. If so, you’re suffering from a deficiency Paul called having zeal but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:2). Many believers have this problem because they have never learned why they believe what they believe. This is why such an easily refuted statement as your “atheist” friend made has caused you so much trouble.
Paul also said that faith comes from hearing the word of the Lord (Romans 10:17), so get into a competent Bible study and do some research to find out why your faith is justified. The Bible is one of the most thoroughly validated books in history and there’s more evidence to prove that the Lord is who He claims to be than there is to prove that you are who you claim to be. Studying the Bible is also the quickest and best way to get your faith back.
One of the things you’ll learn is that if you were saved at age 11, you are still saved today because the faith to be saved was a gift from God (Ephes. 2:8-9) and the Holy Spirit was sealed inside you at that time as a guarantee of your inheritance (Ephes. 1:13-14).