Q. I am struggling with some things for days now, and my father told me to write to you about them. This is one of my problems, and I’m not sure if its just attacks from Satan or what because I’m constantly unsure if I’m a child of God, and I feel very afraid. What is the difference between doubt and unbelief? I am scared that I don’t have the faith to be saved, and I get a terrible fear in my heart. Can you please give me advice?
A. One big difference between doubt and unbelief is that an unbeliever wouldn’t be feeling the fear you describe. Only believers can be afraid they lack the faith to be saved, because only believers know how terrible it would be to not be saved.
In Ephes 2:8-9 Paul said the faith to be saved is a gift from God, and is not of ourselves. That’s why Jesus could promise that everyone who asks for salvation receives it (Matt. 7:7-8). We may doubt our faith but His gift of faith is more than sufficient, and He gives it to everyone who asks. If you have asked the Lord to save you, He has done so, and He has given you the faith to believe it.
Therefore, if you’re experiencing uncertainty about whether you’re saved or not, you know it’s not from Him. It has to be from the enemy, probably taking advantage of some recent event in your life. Maybe you’ve done something you’re ashamed of. Or, maybe you’ve been told you’re supposed to feel a certain way after you’ve been saved, or act a certain way, or be able to do certain things that unsaved people can’t do, and some or all of these things haven’t happened for you.
If this is the case, get out your Bible and review the passages about salvation. If you don’t know how or where to find them, get with someone who does. When you do you’ll discover that salvation is based solely on what you believe. To be saved you have to believe you’re a sinner, that Jesus died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Keep reading and discussing these things because Paul said, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Pretty soon you’ll have enough faith in your salvation that no one will ever be able to cause you to doubt again.