Someone writes: “I am advanced in years and always thought I was saved because I asked Jesus into my heart at age 12. I lived a life of disobedience but have recently been through many profound changes and have turned to God with all my might. I want to be saved but I am going through great torment because I can’t get in touch with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. I can’t even breath from fear I am not one of God’s elect. I don’t feel the presence of God in my life even when I plead with God for mercy. I feel totally abandoned. Can you please help me?”
* * *
Satan is a deceiver and liar and he is tormenting you and lying to you in order to steal your joy. The apostle Paul assures us that it is a trustworthy saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Paul considered himself the worst sinner of all, because he had been a persecutor and murderer of believers before his own encounter with the Lord (1 Tim 1:15). Martin Luther said he was glad that Christ died for sinners because he knew that he was included in that category. If Scripture had said that Christ Jesus came into the world to save Martin Luther, he always would have wondered if there was another man with that same name to whom the Scripture referred rather than to himself. But the Scripture was clear that Jesus came to save sinners,” and Luther knew that included him!
You say you fear you are not one of God’s elect and can do nothing about it. I ask you: Do you want to be with God now and in eternity? Are you sorry for your sins? Do you wish to be forgiven? Are you willing to entrust yourself to God’s love, power and guidance? If you say “Yes” to all of those questions, it is evidence that God’s hand is already on you and that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life. We know we are among God’s elect because when the gospel comes to us we believe it (1 Thess. 1:4-5).
You express fear because you cannot sense God’s presence. The apostle John assures us that God’s love is greater than our feelings and that even when we do not feel it , God still loves us (1 John 3:19-20). The truth is that God was in Jesus Christ, reconciling the world to himself. The gospel is the good news of our salvation. It is true and nothing we can do can make it more true than it is now. The evidence is not our knowledge, our works or our feelings. The evidence is the cross of Jesus Christ and his empty grave (2 Cor 5:19-21). Because Jesus has set us right with God, all we can do is either believe it or reject it. Whoever trusts God’s promise that it is true enjoys forgiveness of sins and peace with God (Acts 10:42-43; Rom. 10:9-10).
For our comfort, God has also given us a tangible experience of his forgiveness which is gospel baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. When we are immersed (in the likeness of Jesus’ death) and raised up again (in the likeness of his resurrection), God gives us a good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ . In this sense, we “wash away” our sins, that is, we feel the cleansing that God did in Jesus by his perfect life, atoning death and mighty resurrection (1 Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16). Baptism points to Jesus – it is a way God had given us to tangibly declare our trust in Jesus as Savior and to receive a clear conscience. Look only to Jesus and believe the trustworthy saying that he came to save sinners! Please feel free to write me more if I can be of help.