In preparation to teach our high school class about the beliefs of the various denominational bodies, I have noticed one common and consistent practice among them. While most denominations varies widely in their unique doctrines, when it comes to the plan of salvation they mostly agree on the doctrine of faith only. Typically associated with this teaching is a statement regarding their acceptance of other denominational bodies as part of the church as a whole. They will then state that they will gladly accept into their membership those from other denominations. This statement is usually accompanied with the idea that the denomination doesn’t question the salvation of those in other denominations. So, in this study we want to answer the question, “Does the Bible teach that we ought to question our salvation and the salvation of others?”
Are you certain of your salvation?
It should be noted that Jesus’ ministry involved questioning the salvation of others. Jesus’ primary work was to teach and preach the gospel to the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). These were God’s covenant people, yet Jesus called them “lost sheep.” Because their salvation was in jeopardy, Jesus appropriately told them to “repent or perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). In fact, upon multiple occasions Jesus called for their repentance (Matthew 4:17, 9:13, 11:20-21, Luke 15:7,10) and even declared to them that they would be lost if they did not (Luke 10:12-14). Remember, these were Jesus’ fellow Jews, and yet, He questioned their salvation.
The apostles also questioned the salvation of those who were saved. Consider the example of Simon the Sorcerer. In Acts 8:13 we have this statement: “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” Simon was a believer; Simon was baptized. According to Mark 16:16, Simon was saved. However, not long after this Peter questioned Simon’s salvation when Simon sought to purchase the ability to bestow miracles. Peter said to Simon, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23). Simon was a Christian, yet his salvation was questioned.
Consider also the frequent words of warning that Paul gives regarding over confidence toward salvation. 1 Corinthians 10:12 states “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” And there were some that became reprobate to the faith. Consider Paul’s words to Timothy regarding Hymenaeus and Alexander. He said that they had put away a good conscience and made shipwreck of the faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20). Yes, he questioned their salvation!
Moreover, there are also some who think they are saved when they haven’t been. We must question the “salvation” of these as well. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Here are some who thought they were saved when they were not; would it not have been better for them to have had someone question their “salvation?” Wouldn’t someone who isn’t really saved be eternally grateful if we will simply question whether or not they are saved to ensure that they are doing the will of the Father? I would think they would.
I’m sure that those in the denominational world who fail to question the salvation of others think that they are doing them a great service. However, they are actually doing them great harm. A true Christian friend will encourage someone to examine their life by comparing it to the teaching that is found in the Bible and also to make correction where correction needs to be made. Questioning someone’s salvation isn’t an act of betrayal, it’s an act of love; it’s an act that just may lift someone out of hell and into heaven (Galatians 6:1). Are you sure you’re saved?