For years someone would ask me the question, "Are you Saved?" and I'd answer "Yah! Sure I am!" They'd say, "Good" and then leave, while I would be standing there wondering if I really was. To me, "saved" was a hard term to pinpoint.
I was raised Catholic and never heard that term until I was older. Salvation had a whole different meaning in the Catholic church (at least at mine it did!). I couldn't grasp this "SAVED" term! Just how were these people so sure they were going to heaven? I didn't know if I was, especially without going to confession and receiving communion every Sunday. Exactly how did these people know?!!!
As I grew older I began searching for answers to all the questions I was beginning to have. I finally ended up leaving the Catholic church because I couldn't find a priest to answer my questions, or one would really even try to answer them. I knew something was wrong, especially when I was told not to read my Bible and to ignore Revelation because it was nothing more than a dream. BIG flags went up for me then.
So my quest started and went on for a good 10 years. During that time I found myself on my knees crying with all my heart for God to save me and give me some sign that he did it. I wanted to speak in tongues like some of my other "saved" friends. I wanted some gift. I wanted to KNOW that I was saved. I think I asked Jesus into my heart at least 100 times, but I still didn't "feel" saved. What was wrong with me? I felt like God had abandoned me!
I watched people all around me constantly tell about how God had told them to do this or that, and how he led them in so many directions. They were doing everything I wanted to do, but I had none of these feelings, nor did I "hear" from God the way they did. I finally got so angry with God, that I turned my back on Him. I didn't need him. He didn't want me, so I left (or so I thought!)
Something was missing in my life. I was lonely. Not lonely as without friends or significant others, but another kind of lonely. It was an empty feeling that I just can't describe. Then one day, I realized what it was. I was missing God. I began to read my Bible some, and started doing some study on my own. Around that same time I met a man at work who began telling me about his Bible studies. It was nice talking about God, and the best part was I was finally getting some questions answered!
God hadn't abandoned me. I was looking in the wrong places. I was looking for some kind of sensation. I wanted to "feel good"! Finally I was on the right track. I started to go to the Bible study with my friend, and got hit with the question "Are you saved?" the first night at the study. "Sure I am!", I replied. I had to be saved! I felt under attack and needed to defend myself. But I really didn't know. How was I to find out without asking questions that would make me a target? I had to be saved, because I was there - right?
I finally ended up marrying the man that took me to the Bible study, but even he didn't know I had the questions about my salvation. It wasn't until a few years after we were married that I finally found my answer. Being saved wasn't feeling great. Being saved didn't instantly change me. The 700 Club was probably one of the most detrimental programs I could have ever seen in my life. Every time I thought I had it, they made me question my salvation with their stories about how their whole lives changed when they asked "Jesus into their hearts". They no longer did any of those bad, evil things they did before. I, on the other hand, continued to sin and gripe. They turned into saints and I was still the same old same old.
So, how could I be saved if I continued to do those things? I would try to be different, but old habits returned again and again. I couldn't be saved. I was going to burn in hell while my sweet, wonderful saved husband spent eternity without me. What was I doing wrong?
I was reading my Bible one day, and came across one passage that would change my life forever. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." I read that verse again and again. There was something that caught my eye..."the gift of God is eternal life"... The gift... God was giving a gift with no strings attatched. Didn't sound right. Must be a mistake. A GIFT...
I pulled out the dictionary and looked up the meaning of gift. Webster's said "something given voluntarily without charge; present". So God is giving me a present - a gift of eternal life! Could this really be true? Just as simple as receiving a gift on your birthday? Nah...
So I started doing some more digging, and found something even more profound. I was expecting God to ring bells and whistles and let me know something happened. I wanted to hear it from Him. I wanted proof! I wasn't getting proof. Why? Because I lacked one very important thing. FAITH. Simple, honest FAITH!!!
Why would God show me a miracle or some kind of sign when he gave me his only Son and his Son died for my sins? I didn't have faith in that, so why would I believe the miracles and signs that I expected? I found my answers, and my salvation in my Bible. All I needed to do was believe!
John 3:15 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
John 6:40 "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Every part of my salvation stemmed on my belief and my faith. That's it. Simple as that! Sounds too easy doesn't it? God's gift to me was his Son and all I had to do was believe, and I will forver have eternal life. Since it is a gift, it can't be taken back. It is my reward for believeing and trusting the Word of God! Now when someone asks me if I am saved, I can hold my head up and proudly say "Yes! I am saved! Praise God for the wonderful gift He gave me!"
As for the sinning, well, it still happens, but I try to make a conscious effort not to. That old nature still has a way of keeping me human, but even the apostle Paul had those problems. So if Paul couldn't overcome it, how can I expect myself to never make mistakes? I try to do what I think God would want, and I study my Bible every day to try to keep walking on the right path, but I'm not perfect, and God doesn't expect me to be. He does want me to try my best, though, and that is good enough for him. He is my Father, and as his child I will make mistakes. Show me any child that doesn't!