Ever since becoming a believer I have struggled at times with anxiety and fear that I am not really saved. It is that kind of deep fear that is there as you fall asleep and the first thing on your mind when you wake. The most recent season of anxiety began two years ago as I listened to a friend pray. When I heard her affection for Jesus, I instantly became painfully aware of a coldness in my own heart.
Questions flew to my mind that eventually turned into an anxious spiral that I could not get out of: “Do I know Jesus that way? Do I know Jesus at all? What do I actually believe about who Jesus is? Oh no! Do I not have faith? If I don’t have faith, how can I be saved? But I do have faith. Is it the “right kind” of faith?
Perhaps in the whirlwind of questions, you hear a reoccurring “I.” All of my questions centered around my ability, and my mind turned perfect belief into a work that I must accomplish in order to be saved, which only turned my heart colder and fueled my fears. I desperately searched inside myself, but what I found there only lead me to more fear. My affections are divided and fickle. My works, imperfect and incomplete. My thoughts are distracted and doubting. My service, self-serving.
My heart cried out, “How can anyone be saved?”
Last December, God graciously provided another thought in the midst of the anxious thoughts: If God can cause His Son to be born to a virgin, He can cause His son to be born into my heart.
There are two times in the Gospel of Luke where we hear that nothing is impossible for God.
In Luke 1, Mary is greeted by an angel and told something impossible: she will conceive and bear a son. Understandably, Mary asks, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel tells her that God Himself by His Spirit will cause this to happen. And to assure her, he says, “Behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
In Luke 18, a rich young ruler walks sadly away from Jesus as he is made to understand that all of his works are insufficient for him to inherit eternal life. When Jesus tells the people it is hard for the rich to be saved, they cry out, “Then who can be saved?”
Jesus’ response to the crowd will sound familiar: “What is impossible with man is possible with God!”
A NEW BIRTH
The Bible is full of stories women who could not conceive and yet did by God’s power. Sarah and Elizabeth were too old (Genesis 17:17; Luke 1:7). Rebekah and Hannah were barren (Genesis 25:21; 1 Samuel 1). Mary was a virgin (Luke 1:34).
God shows his power precisely in their barreness and emptiness. Perhaps it is no surprise that Jesus Himself was conceived miraculously and that salvation is described as a new brith. In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” Nicodemus’ response sounds similar to Mary’s question to the angel, “How can this be?” (John 3:4, 9)
How can a virgin conceive and give birth to the Son of God? Nothing is impossible for God.
How can an old, barren woman have a child? Nothing is impossible for God.
How can anyone be saved? Nothing is impossible for God.
How can we be born again? Nothing is impossible for God.
In our anxiety about our salvation and despair over our inability to save ourselves, there is only one thing to do: cast ourselves on the mercy and love of the Father who sent His Son to save us, because nothing is impossible for him, including our salvation. Those who trust in Him will NEVER be put to shame (Psalm 25:3, Romans 10:11).
We look daily to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Jesus, born of a virgin, whose very name means “God saves.” Jesus, the one who is able to save completely those who come to God through him because he ever lives to intercede for them! From first to last, salvation is God’s work and He is mighty to save (Hebrews 12:1, Matthew 1:21, Hebrews 7:25, Jude 1:25, Zephaniah 3:17).
AN OBJECT LESSON
It was interesting to me that during this time of fear about my salvation, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant again. Even though we did all the “right things,” it took a year and a half before we got pregnant with our little girl who is due in January 2018. During this time of waiting, I was struck by our complete inability to create life and reminded that God is the one who makes things alive.
When the line turned pink, I found my heart exclaiming, “Lord, you alone are the giver of Life!” This is the song that our hearts will sing with the multitudes before the throne of God when we finally receive for all eternity the life purchased for us by the Son of God: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10).
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION
- Is there anyone in your life that causes you to wonder “How can _______ be saved?” Perhaps its yourself? Your spouse? A wayward sibling? A stubborn grandparent?
- How does Jesus deliver us from the belief that anyone is beyond saving?
- Spend some time praying for the salvation of the person you thought of in #1, or for your own assurance of salvation. Praise God for his power and mercy.
Trish Shank is the wife of an RUF Campus minister in Western North Carolina and the mama to a beautiful 3 year old girl, with another little girl arriving any day. She is a teacher of Spanish, a lover of good books, a maker of puns, a frequenter of library story time, and a savvy thrift store shopper. She is passionate about biblical parenting, hospitality, and cultivating a peaceful home.