Q: How can I know if I’m truly saved? And is it possible to lose my salvation?


The question of being saved, or of losing one’s salvation, is a pastoral one that I’d suggest you address with your church pastor in the first instance. 

I say this because some people are naturally more self-critical and have a tendency to worry, while others are much more bullish and assume everything will be all right in the end. There are potential pitfalls to both ways of thinking. 

In my church tradition, we take six weeks each year during Lent to examine ourselves. In the lead-up to Good Friday, some people will go through a process of spiritual discernment and reflection. This may look like going on a retreat or meeting with a spiritual director. But whatever form it takes, it is an opportune time to look into our hearts. If you are questioning your salvation, it’s good to investigate what’s going on in your heart and your faith journey for yourself.

The New Testament does set a very high bar. The idea of taking up our cross (Matthew 16:24-26) is no small ask. That can cause some to worry that they aren’t up to it. But great reassurance can be found in the scriptures.

In 2 Corinthians 2:16 Paul asks: “Who is sufficient for these things?” (ESV) The answer is that God has clothed us in his sufficiency. Later, Paul explains: “It isn’t as though we are qualified in ourselves to reckon that we have anything to offer on our own account. Our qualification comes from God” (3:5, NTFE). It’s not about us and our ability. It’s about what God is doing in us. 

In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul adds that he doesn’t think he’s already attained everything, but he pummels his body and subdues it, saying: “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (ESV). Here we encounter Paul, the great apostle, looking in the mirror and saying to himself: You better watch it, young man. If you don’t control these instincts – if you don’t say ‘no’ to things that you want to do, and ‘yes’ to things that you may not want to do, but that you know God is calling you to, then you, too, could be cast away. 

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Paul provides us with an example of confidence and humility, and although they sound like opposites, we learn that they’re not. If our confidence is in God and not ourselves, it leaves us in the proper position of humility, knowing all that we have comes from God’s grace. 

It’s clear that Paul himself wrestled with issues related to the questions being asked. So we need not feel bad for also asking these questions. My advice is to come to Jesus and, as you do so, prayerfully and faithfully trust that he will be with you.

Tom answers listeners’ questions every week on the ‘Ask NT Wright Anything’ podcast.