Over the weekend, in a WhatsApp discussion group I belong to, we welcomed a new member who had just joined the group. During the introductions, one group member, a personal friend, who also happened to be the one who introduced me to Reformed Theology introduced himself thus “I was born into a Christian family so I’ve never really known a time that I wasn’t a professing Christian — but I’m quite sure somewhere along the line, I made a conscious profession of faith in Christ”. I humorously responded; “Born into a Christian home? You’re not a Christian, you need Jesus.”
As I have indicated earlier, it was through this person I was brought into the Reformed faith. And my humorous comment was especially because I share his experience; and we have often spoken about how though we profess faith in Christ, we cannot put date and time to the precise moment when we came to believe in Christ.
Acquainted With The Faith From Childhood
Just like my friend, I grew up in a Christian home and hence my conversion was not as dramatic as that of others. I must confess I envy those who put time –year, date, hour, minute, place– to their conversion. I wish I could, but unfortunately, I don’t have those details. I grew up in a Christian home and as far as I am aware, I have always believed in Christ as my Saviour.
Often, I have tried to trace when I did actually become conscious of a profession of faith. After my Senior High School education in 1997, I enrolled in a discipleship and baptismal class in the church I belonged to then. After the class, with an understanding of my sinfulness and a need for a personal Saviour, I made a profession of faith and was baptised. Nothing changed. No voice from heaven confirmed my salvation. Everything seemed to be normal. With time, I became the youth leader of my local assembly and was actively involved in revitalising an almost non-existent youth group. I entered the university of Ghana in 2000 and joined a campus ministry. There also, I was actively involved. In my third year, things will change during a personal crisis.
During this period, one thing I battled with was assurance of my salvation. As I intimated earlier, I can’t put a date and time to when I was converted, and this became a major reason for me to start questioning whether I was truly saved. I had friends who spoke so fondly of their conversion experience I just started feeling I wasn’t saved. My emotions were at the centre of my lack of assurance. I needed to “feel saved” because I wasn’t “feeling saved”. I went on private retreats to seek God for him to reveal himself and give me the peace of salvation I needed badly. My doubt was the root of my crisis. I felt wretched and couldn’t see myself saved. To settle this once and for all, I began responding to what is popularly called “altar calls” to give my life to Christ. I may have given my life to Christ about 100 times altogether in many different meetings.
One day, I got tired of all the altar calls. I decided to end it. That day, I made a decision to believe the word of God and what it says about salvation. I did for the final time what I have been doing at all those altar calls. I prayed again and asked God to forgive me of all my sins and to give me the heart to believe in his word.
Faith, Emotions and The Word
What is clear in my experience is that I was basing my Christian experience on my emotions more than on the word of God. My Christian experience was all heart and no head. True, saving faith is heart faith, but it is based on the solid truth of God’s word. You see, we all come into the faith differently and our experiences may not be the same. One may have had a dramatic conversion experience like we read of Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18); another may, like Timothy, be acquainted with the sacred writings from childhood, which are able to make one wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2Timothy 3:15, 1Timothy 1:5).
However, the most important means by which we are brought to faith is through the word of Christ. Faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8-9) and the medium by which this faith is administered is through the preaching and the hearing of the word of God (Rom. 10:17). One may be able to remember all the details of their conversion. Another may not be able to explain the fine details about how or when they got saved; however, they do know they have believed in Christ for their salvation.
God’s word promises eternal life for anyone who believes in Christ Jesus as Lord. It also promises that anyone who believes in Christ thus is a child of God. There are many gospel promises in the word of God and if we believe as Scripture calls us to believe (Romans 10:8-10) we will be saved. The word of God is the final authority. Our emotions and feelings may not always align with what God’s word says. But if indeed we have believed in Christ as our Saviour; then we can be “sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).
Have you believed in Christ? No one can answer that for you. If in doubt, look to the gospel promises of God in his word.