I became a believer at a young age. For years afterward, I struggled with doubts about my salvation. Preachers who talked about “head faith” versus “heart faith” didn’t help. In college, I was confronted with Calvinism, which also didn’t help. How can I know if I have the right kind of faith? How can I know if God really wants me?
In recent years, God led me to Bible teachers like Chuck Missler and Jack Kelley. Because of their work, I finally grasped what God had been trying to tell me all along: He wants me in His family, and faith isn’t a magic spell.
God is not an automoton. He isn’t a cosmic vending machine, that, if you put in the right amount of “faith coinage”, spits out a nice twelve ounce can of refreshing salvation. God is on the prowl, looking for people to save. It doesn’t require elaborate rituals or special incantations, either. The believer can be saved without speaking at all. Acts chapter 10 has the story of Cornelius’s conversion. Reading carefully, I notice that the uncircumcised gentiles began speaking with tongues (a certain indication that they had just been saved) right at the point that Peter mentions belief. They didn’t confess anything. They hadn’t been baptized—except, of course, by the Holy Spirit.
God is involved in the process; it may be easy to forget that. Suppose someone “asks Jesus into his heart” or “asks Jesus to forgive him of his sins”; the Lord Jesus isn’t confused about what the person is asking. He saves that person. I am reminded of the animated movie “Aladdin”. At one point, Aladdin is knocked unconscious and thrown into the sea. He just manages to rub the genie’s lamp before passing out. The genie can’t do anything unless Aladdin wishes for it, though—it’s the rules, apparently. The genie makes several suggestions, and hold up Aladdin. Aladdin’s head droops forward. “That’s good enough for me,” the genie says, and rescues Aladdin.
I believe Jesus is similarly watching closely the thoughts of each person. On even the barest display of interest, I believe He pounces. Not that the barest display of interest can save, but Jesus starts arranging things to bring the gospel message to that person, and an even imperfect plea for salvation is, I think, good enough. Jesus, and the Father, suffered more than we can ever know (probably) to bring salvation to the world. There is no extra cost to God to add another member to the believing family. It is what He wants to do. He isn’t a trickster God who pulls a salvation coin from behind our ear, and then makes it disappear when we reach for it. He gives us the coin, and draws us into His arms (metaphorically speaking). It isn’t a trick. IT ISN’T A TRICK.
We know how to trust people. If we get sick, and visit the doctor, we trust his diagnoses and take the remedy he prescribes. If we get into legal trouble, and our lawyer says he can make it all go away if we pay him a certain amount, we trust him enough to fork over the cash. Our trust in each instance may be misplaced, but that doesn’t mean we didn‘t trust or that we will never trust anyone again.
We can trust Jesus to save us. He handles all arrangements, He already paid the full price for our sin on the cross. If there is paperwork to fill out, for example, He has it all completed, perfectly, because He has power of attorney, as it were. There is nothing we need to do apart from trust Him, believe in Him. Similar to Boaz, in the book of Ruth, Jesus “will not rest until the matter is concluded”. The matter was concluded at the cross, of course, so He is sitting at the right hand of the Father at present, but He will make sure you get into heaven and avoid hell. HE will make sure if that.
Some posit that a believer can lose his salvation. I say that, absolutely a believer theoretically could lose his salvation—but Jesus will never lose that believer’s salvation. I imagine that He writes the believer’s name in a book, and keeps that book locked in a vault in heaven, out of the reach of anyone but Himself. Even if the believer for whatever reason wanted to no longer be saved, he would have to make his way into heaven, breach the vault with the unbreakable door, and scribble out the unerasable writing of his name in that book.
In other words, it is impossible to become “unsaved”.