4. Faith in Faith
Have you ever doubted your salvation because your conversion experience was less sensational than someone else’s? I recall in my teenage years being awed by testimonies of some who had been notorious rascals for decades and then were gloriously saved. Although I rejoice in the way God redeems such lives, I felt inferior. I had received Christ at about seven years of age–too early to get into sensational trouble … Yet, the Lord delights in the salvation of young people (Matt. 19:13,14). Those who have spent many prodigal years are usually candid about their regrets; if they had come to Christ earlier, many of their scars could have been avoided.
The apostle Paul glorified God in his testimony of salvation: “Although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:13-17; cf. Acts 9:1-22). After meeting the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul the persecutor became Paul the apostle.
Timothy’s redemption was less sensational. The apostle reminded him, “… I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also … and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:5;3:15; cf. Acts 16:1-3).
Paul’s conversion experience was much different than that of his young apprentice, yet both were equally genuine. Even so, your testimony doesn’t need to mimic someone else’s experience in order to be real.
Sometimes insecurity is caused by a disciple focusing on his/her faith rather than on the Lord Jesus. Remember, God saves us by GRACE in Christ: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8,9). What’s the difference? If you’re trusting in the strength of your faith, doubts will shake the security of your relationship with Christ. However, if you are trusting Christ’s finished work and relying fully on Him as personal Lord and Savior, your assurance is based on HIM!
You don’t revel in the strength of your belief, but on the faithfulness of God: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). Thankfully, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our need and enables us to place our faith in Christ (1 Cor. 12:3). Even faith that is seemingly small–as “a mustard seed”–lays hold of so great a salvation when it springs from a heart of repentance and rests on Christ alone (Luke 17:6; cf. 2 Tim. 1:12).
Insecurity from a weak faith is not necessarily resolved by rehearsing the plan of salvation. That’s why the writer of Hebrews did not repeating the A, B, Cs of the Gospel to challenge those wavering believers. Instead, the letter advanced to deeper truth that would motivate the Hebrew Christians to take refuge in the Jesus the Messiah, to persevere and grow in their New Covenant faith (Heb. 6:1-9).
By way of contrast, some evangelists seem intent on stirring up some degree of insecurity in the audience in order to call for an invitation that would REALLY save them (no matter how much evidence there has been of their devotion to Christ). Although this may make the evangelist and the meeting appear more successful, in reality believers may be just circling back to their initial profession of faith. They try a more sincere conversion prayer instead of appropriating spiritual victory over the self-life (Rom. 6:6-14). This cycle of repeated sinner’s prayers reinforces insecurity rather than promoting valid assurance (John 10:27-29).
The value of faith depends on the OBJECT of faith. Instead of faith in faith, we need to trust in the faithfulness of God in Christ!
Imagine people doubting that they are alive because they had misplaced their birth certificate. Paranoia, right? The best evidence of new life is growth: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).
 For a closer look at Hebrews 6:1-9, see Grace Note “The Cure for Apostasy Part 1.”