I was keeping Jesus on the porch, trying to entertain him through the screen door. Saving faith results in works, so if I don’t do the works, I’m not saved. Verb - Present Imperative Active - 2nd Person Singular.  Or was it God’s Spirit, nudging me, telling me to examine myself, to see if I was in the faith? The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The Name at which every knee will bow, every tongue confess that He is Lord. There’s only one door to heaven.  Don’t get me wrong – I genuinely believed I was seeking God when I would commit to reading the Bible or praying with others. But the truth of the matter was, I STILL HAD THAT DEEP EMPTINESS.  I *wanted* to say that Jesus had filled it.  But the truth was, He hadn’t.  If I would have been honest, my testimony would have looked more like: “Guys, I’m unhappy.  At times I’m downright depressed, anxious, and miserable.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what’s real and what isn’t.  Sometimes I think about suicide.  But I don’t know if I’d for sure go to heaven.  I want to feel loved, accepted, and secure.  But I don’t.  I’ve looked for it in many places, but everything has come up short.  I want to have purpose, direction, and meaning.  Being a “type A” personality, I’ve tried to find meaning through accomplishing – getting good marks in school.  But I was never “good ENOUGH”.  I’ve tried finding it in popularity and acceptance, in dating and in men.  But I was used, humiliated, betrayed.  I tried finding it in marriage, but unfortunately this has turned into a daily struggle.  I tried finding it in my career – getting diplomas and letters behind my name.  I even tried finding it at Bible school.  That year was one of the most miserable of my life!  It was all empty, a chasing after the wind.Â. It doesn’t take any words. Salvation is the gift of God given by grace, through faith.  God’s mercy withholds the punishment we do deserve; God’s grace gifts the salvation we do not deserve. Have you been washed in His blood? It’s about the precious Name above all Names – Jesus Christ. Imagine that you are a compass. Luke 17:5 And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.  Whether that’s another god, or the wisdom of mankind (including our current understanding of scientific and historical discoveries), or the God of the Bible. It doesn’t take any action. It comes back to purpose. Raw faith combined with the confession that he needed Christ to attain the far more perfect faith he craved. I did not used to “pass the test”.  When I truly examined myself I knew deep down that something was wrong.  I didn’t want to die because I wasn’t sure where I would go.  What about you?  In your heart of hearts do you have peace or dread?   Test yourself before God, right now!  Approach Him in prayer with a seeking heart.  Rest in the finished work of salvation. I was trying to “make” my heart believe, by “acting as if”. Think over your life.  When and where have seeds been planted and watered?  Is there someone who has been praying for you? You want to know why I didn’t give up this time? At this point, I spent a few months reading through the gospels and John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus by flashlight at night while everyone else in the house slept. A letting go.  And while we can’t explain everything yet, new evidence keeps coming forth in favor of the Bible. I write my story because I can’t be the only one who has gone through the agony of wrestling with faith.  Struggling with doubt – not doubt of the truth, but doubt of my own salvation.  Maybe there is one person here who needs to hear this message!  I want to share with you today what Jesus has done, and is doing in my life.  While I can talk endlessly about Jesus today (as you will see! What about you?  Can you understand that God saves you *in spite* of your badness?  Can you comprehend His mercy through the blood of Christ, which will withhold His eternal punishment upon you? Jesus paid the price of your death penalty.  He didn’t just pay part of the tab – He paid the full tab.  All that remains is whether or not you accept that payment to be applied to your account.  If you keep trying to pay part of it, you don’t truly understand the grace of God!  Nor do you understand your total depravity – your complete and utter unworthiness.  You do not have anything to offer God that remotely compares to what Jesus has done for you. To be honest, I didn’t have a lasting passion for Christ. He’s the bread of life, the living water, the way, the truth, the Word. of a worn out rope God help oh me of little hope Lord, I believe but help my unbelief cause Trust and fear are fighting and I'm somewhere in between Let Your Power Fall  I reflected on the Sabbath, and how Jesus came to fulfill the Law so that we could rest from striving for salvation.  Salvation isn’t about heaven.  It’s not about blessings or comfort or even about assurance.  Salvation is simply about Jesus.  Being reconciled to Him.  Resting in what He has done.  Becoming immersed in Him, filled by Him, abiding in Him.  If you are a parent, you know how much easier life works if your children choose to trust and obey you (ideally because they love you) – even if they don’t completely understand your rationale. EHSS - I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief” is from our new CD ”Something Beautiful" Our Favorite Songs of Bill & Gloria Gaither. When I got a little bit older, in my late teens, I realized I needed to expand my testimony.  It now went something like this: “I had this deep emptiness, this deep longing inside of me.  I wanted to feel loved, accepted, secure.  I wanted to have purpose, direction, meaning.  This could only be filled by Jesus…”Â. Amen.  “I can’t do anything, God! We should ask God for help in our unique arenas of doubt. Can’t you see for yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you actually fail the test?”  (2 Corinthians 13:5). The, the definite article. The faith to believe in one’s heart is a free gift of God – sometimes He just gives it, sometimes we must ask. Following Jesus isn’t about rules.  When we see how far short we fall of God’s glory, when we realize our utter inability to do anything about it, when we desire to clothe ourselves with Jesus’ blood and righteousness, when we TURN from following ME to following HIM, we are saved. I’m going to make myself think like saved people think.  I’m going to talk like saved people talk.  I joyously threw myself into God’s work.  I didn’t consciously do these things to try to earn salvation, but because I wanted my actions to line up with what my head believed. My sweet friend, have you internalized that God’s love for you, unlike human love, is truly unconditional – independent of what you do or do not do?  If not, please consider reading I Have Loved You With an Everlasting Love.  We are only able to love God because He loved us first (1 John 4:19). “I try not to lie or steal or gossip… I feel guilty when I do…”, “I’m terrified of hell.  I want to go to heaven.”. Everything is possible to the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Stopping… And letting go.\. No other gate. This allows us to be declared innocent and sin-free in God’s Eyes – the debt we owed for our crimes is paid. This thrives on going from experience to experience. That’s the purpose for every single human. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  (Galatians 2:20), So this is the part where you may be stuck. Examining yourself to see if you are in the faith is an act of obedience!  It is part of “working out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  So here’s what I want to you to do.  It doesn’t matter about the past.  Are you trusting in Jesus for salvation, right now?  Do you have peace in your heart that you are saved, right now?  If you heard that glorious call home, right now, do you know you would be taken to the place Jesus has prepared for you?  If you have momentary doubt, because I have shaken you in spirit, but then find that you are in the faith, that is “passing the test”.  If you get a gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach, your mouth goes dry, and you are filled with fear, that’s not passing the test. Psalm 39:12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. It’s in YOUR hands, not mine.  Our free will allows us to CHOOSE which one to listen to. I am so helped a short story in the gospel of Mark where a man cries out to Jesus: “I believe; help my unbelief!” That sounds so honest!  Not just most of my heart.  To make any kind of progress, I had to decide to open the door and let him in…  All the way. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Was I seeking *God*, or warm and fuzzy feelings?  Did I do good things because I wanted to show Jesus my love for Him, or because I wanted to prove to myself I was saved – because “good things” are what “saved people do”?  ALL my heart. 3. There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.  I was sitting in the bathroom, telling God that assurance of salvation was just too hard for me.  I didn’t get it… I never would… and I was yelling in my head – “I have tried EVERYTHING…and NOTHING has worked!!!”. My heart struggles to believe the promises of Christ and my guess it’s a struggle for all of us.  Was it? I plead with You on behalf of everyone who reads this message.  You know which of Your sheep have strayed.  You love them and have not abandoned them!  You will leave the ninety-nine to find them.  Draw them irresistibly by Your Spirit.  Speak to them, and lead their hearts home!  You have begun a good work in them – the good seed has been planted!  I have confidence that You will be faithful to carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).  And that day is soon!  You are near, even at the very gates!  Plant an urgency in the hearts of Your lambs, may they turn from sin and self and towards You today.Â, “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  (1 Peter 3:15-16), Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”  (John 4:39).   I deliberately CHOSE GOD.  I chose to keep seeking until He gave me assurance of salvation. I think my experience was best described as the weedy and rocky soils.  Remember that these soils send out sprouts (emotional experiences, re-dedications, intellectual training, etc. We look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, as our guiding compass point. When we focus on our outward behaviors, we miss working on aligning our hearts with God. God told me – stop throwing your gross dirty rags my way.  Just – Rest. Big Daddy Weave Lyrics. How many times have we been told “act as if”?  God has given many signs so we can prepare our hearts.  How much harder does He have to shake us out of slumber? Help my unbelief You can’t get close to God by acting any certain way, in fact it will always lead to failure. See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks.  Matthew 18:3. Pray With Me:  Jesus, please show me the true condition of my heart.  Am I seeking heaven?  Blessings?  Emotional encounters?  Experiences?  Belonging?  Or am I truly seeking You and You alone?  If I have no special feelings or encounters, will I hold firm to faith in You?  Reveal to me the beliefs of my own heart. Despite how much I wanted salvation, it still eluded me. Once we understand what we deserve, sometimes we don’t like that helpless feeling of not being able to earn or maintain their own salvation, so they add traditions and works in an attempt to “measure up”.  They want to feel as if they have some control over the process (if I do X and Y, then I’m “good enough”; conversely, if I do NOT do X and Y, I am NOT “good enough”).   Thus, they think they need to suffer a little bit – or maybe a lot – before they are worthy of “rescue”.  There may be a deep-seated unconscious desire to pay for their badness.  This felt need for punishment often has its’ roots in childhood.  Well meaning people assured me that it was just the enemy’s attacks. I had a loving, albeit emotionally distant, earthly father and didn’t struggle with the concept of God’s grace.  Our works can’t add to or maintain salvation – I might do enough good things to build a great toboganning hill… Mother Teresa built a Mount Everest of good works… And neither of us could reach the Moon. People assured me over and over again that I was saved, quoting scripture to prove it.  My inner dialogue went like this: Faith without works is dead, but if we work for our faith Jesus will say to us “I never knew you”. From apistos; faithlessness, i.e. I decided, okay, I want to be saved, so… I’m going to choose to be saved then. Those who are truly saved will be convicted by sin.  If we have been crucified with Christ (born again), we no longer live, but Christ lives in us.  We have free will to cooperate or to grieve/quench the Holy Spirit, but if we persist in disobedience then God will discipline us.  He wants us to be holy, as He is holy.  The motivation for our obedience is from the inside out, driven by our love for Him.  The spirit of the law (inside out) rather than the letter (outside in). 2. But I still didn’t react right.  We even make cartoons about it!  We have God’s Holy Spirit convicting us on the one side, and satan’s hiss on the other. Learn to help others be honest with their doubts by receiving your friends’ doubts with Christ-like tenderness. So how does your belief in Jesus affect your life?  But I have had to wrestle through these issues of faith to the point of exhaustion. In Mark 9:24 the father cries out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” This is a great prayer. And here you are.  God made you.  He called you into being.  You are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  He has a plan for your life and He WANTS you.  He wants to be in relationship with you.  Not in a begging pleading kind of way, but He made you to be in His family and basically you won’t feel whole until you are. Pray With Me:  Jesus, help me to let go of the past.  I choose to trust in You TODAY.  From this day forth, I will walk with You.  Show me the path! My faith was slammed up against the wall.  No other religious book has the track record of archeological and historical proof that the Bible does. And yet it eludes me. We can’t birth ourselves.  So there’s really no point in trying to get saved, because we can’t and we won’t.  I mean, the morals are good for everyone around us and ourselves too, because it’s a rational and loving way to live.  But following Christian teaching doesn’t save us. Father, (Heavenly) Father, ancestor, elder, senior. 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