Q. About 10 years ago I prayed for a relative a day before his bleeding stomach surgery and shared the gospel with him. Afterward he agreed to say the sinner’s prayer with me. He recovered from his surgery but went back to his pagan practices. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. This time he was led to say the sinner’s prayer by his sister and a friend. His family are all very strong Christians and they got him baptized as well. He recently passed away. Do you think he was saved, or did he disqualify himself by going back to his old ways after he asked the first time?
A. It’s not for me or anyone else to judge whether another person is saved or not. Behavior is never a fool proof indication of a person’s spiritual condition because salvation is a matter of the heart, and only the Lord knows the motives of our heart (1 Cor. 4:5).
What I can say is whether it was 10 years ago or just before he died, your relative was saved if he was sincere in asking the Lord to save him. It doesn’t matter how many times he asked previous to that or how many times he asked since.
We know this because Jesus said all who ask will receive (Matt. 7:7-8). God doesn’t reject people who feel bad about their behavior after asking to be saved the first time and are moved to ask again. He is patient with us, not wanting any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).