It’s a question that gets asked fairly often in Christian circles (at least, in the evangelical/holiness circles I’m a part of): When did you get saved?
So many seem to have a date, and sometimes a time, they can point to and say, “That was the event. That was when I became a Christian.” So many, in fact, that I wonder if there is anyone out there like me. I can’t give you a time or place or date. My story goes a little like this.
The first time I really began to wonder about whether or not I was saved was when I happened to turn on a televised Billy Graham crusade. I called a friend about it, who walked me through the sinner’s prayer, and I thought that was that. For a while.
After that, though, I did what people do: I sinned. A lot. I knew I was wrong and I was driven to despair over my sin. I would pray and beg God to save me, to not let me go to hell. Sometimes I felt saved. Sometimes I didn’t. I went to the altar at a church service and thought I’d gotten re-saved. I got baptized. I attended church a bit more reliably, read my Bible. Then I stopped doing those things and got into a pattern of desperately saying the sinner’s prayer I had been taught before going to sleep in the hope that, if I died in the night, the prayer would be enough to get me into heaven. Back and forth. That was my life for almost a decade.
Over the past few years I have seen a change in my life. Small and subtle, but real. I want to read my Bible more often. I want to pray more often, and when I do I more easily offer praise to God and prayer for others, not just myself. I have an honest faith in God. And I know that I didn’t do these things myself – they are gifts from God. I can tell you today that I am a Christian and I trust Jesus to bring me safely home.
So the big question – when was I saved? At what point in my story did I move from death to life?
A simple answer – I don’t know.
Some people get one moment. One bright, shining moment where they know they have experienced God and that everything has changed. Paul got that on the road to Damascus, when Jesus knocked him on his rear and spoke to him. It is possible that Peter got it, too, although that is harder for us to pinpoint.
What about the rest, though? What about Matthew, Jude, or John? Is it possible that they didn’t experience a moment, but a process in which they were changed by God? A process guided by an unseen hand but nevertheless real and effective?
Further, does it matter at all if I have a date and time and place as long as I am a Christian now? I don’t know if I would have gone to heaven if I had died five years ago, but I trust that if I were to die today I would open my eyes to see my Savior.
I say we stop asking about dates and places and start celebrating our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you have been purchased with the blood of Jesus you have cause for great joy, whether you can remember a specific moment or not. May the star of our personal story always be Christ and His glory.