Do you know when you were saved? Does it matter?

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Of course it matters if you are saved.  But does it matter if you don’t know the exact moment of your conversion?

Some Christians make a big deal out of knowing the exact day and time you were saved.  Since one’s salvation is such a monumentally important thing I can see how they might expect you to know the time with precision.  Yet is that an important biblical concept?

If you study the Bible, and especially 1 John, you’ll find that there is quite a bit to say about analyzing if you are really saved, but I can’t find anything that says you need to know the exact moment.

If people do have a specific moment and a dramatic conversion moment, that is great.  But plenty of people have dramatic “conversions” yet would seem to fail the 1 John tests. And plenty of people pass those tests without having a dramatic and specific story.  Note that their ultimate state is between them and God; I’m just offering scenarios here.

I’ve trusted in Jesus for my salvation for a long time but can’t describe a precise moment when I went from unsaved to saved.

Sadly, some people may have a false sense of security because they know when they prayed “the prayer,” but it wasn’t an authentic conversion.

I think the important thing biblically is to make sure that you are saved and not worrying about exactly when it occurred.  John MacArthur has a great book on this topic called Saved without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation. If you struggle with doubts, get that book.  If you aren’t really saved, you need to know it so you can get saved.  If you are saved then you need to start living in confidence.

And if someone makes a big deal out of knowing when you were saved, you can always just reply, “2,000 years ago.”

20 thoughts on “Do you know when you were saved? Does it matter?”

  1. Funny thing. I was just talking to a friend of mine the other day about something like this topic. I told him that I don’t actually know when salvation begins or ends. Take, for instance, the Parable of the Sower. In two of the four instances, the “ground” took the “seed” with pleasure. It grew. It sprouted. It … was saved? No, not saved. But it would certainly have all the appearances of being “saved”. Doesn’t “growth” = “saved”?

    I believe that the Bible teaches that we can know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). I don’t believe that on what day and at what hour that occurred is particularly relevant. Indeed, if we have been saved (past tense), are being saved (present tense), and will be saved (future tense), I’m not at all sure that the hour and the day are even significant.

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  2. I don’t really ever remember not thinking I was a Christian. On the other hand, I don’t remember thinking I was a good Christian. I have always said that God has had to drag me to the point I am today. I am greatful and amazed that he has had the patience to get me this far and I pray that he won’t give up on me; though I know he would be justified to do so.

    I also had trouble belieiving that God would really get involved the the derails of my life. But he has proved to me that he does.

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  3. It was long after I became a Christian when I heard people talking about when they were saved, as if it was perhaps even more holy to remember the exact date, and perhaps you were missing something if you couldn’t remember. Well, I can remember the month – January 1974 – but that’s the best I can do.

    I agree – the important thing isn’t when, it is whether.

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  4. Its an interesting question. I celebrate my spiritual birthday every year by taking some time alone with the Lord. Its a wonderful experience to set aside time to remember his goodness and to take inventory.

    That said, I don’t think it is important to know when. It’s an ongoing relationship, not a historical transaction.

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    1. Actually it is an historical transaction. But the transaction took place some 2,000 years ago as Neil pointed out. The application of that action to our lives would be what we are discussing. I know, I’m splitting theological hairs. But our faith is rooted in history and is historical in its witness.

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  5. From a slightly different angle, I think it would be important to note an epiphany (Saul’s blinding experience) as part of a testimony to others. Paul did make much of his previous life and his dramatic change which made his ministry that much more amazing and – here’s the main point – brought glory to God. Although it is well agreed that knowing an hour and day of conversion is not a requisite for salvation and need not be elevated to such a level in the life of all believers, our testimony of God’s grace in our lives is quite valuable. If such an experience is part of one’s testimony it certainly should take a central position as it brings glory to God.

    In the end all our testimonies are, by necessity, noticeably similar – namely, I was a wretched sinner with a heart that was desperately wicked deserving of the wrath of God, but God loved me before I loved Him and provided His Son as an atoning sacrifice to save me from my sins, now I have a changed heart that compels me to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and my neighbor as myself – I am a new creation in Christ! In either case, how great is the love God has lavished upon us and what an amazing testimony that is whether one can include a specific time and place or not.

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    1. I hit the Reply button, but this is a question. Do you think Paul was saved on the Damascus road, or was it afterward when Ananias came to give him the gospel? (Goes along with my “I’m not sure when salvation begins and ends” thing.)

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      1. I’ve often wondered about Peter. Was he saved when Jesus asked him who people said He (Jesus) was and then asked Peter who did he say He (Jesus) was? Or was it after Peter denied Jesus? Or maybe on the beach eating with Jesus? Or at Pentecost?
        Was I saved as a child when I asked Jesus into my heart, yet totally fell away in my young adulthood, then finally returned in my 40ies? I certainly believed I was saved as a child, but maybe I really wasn’t. I guess all that really matters is that I know I’m saved now.

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      2. Stan,

        We are not told the exact moment of his saving so it would probably be unwise to make an assessment of certainty. As many have already proposed it is a complicated issue in regard to timing. Christ provided the sacrifice once for all – regeneration is a work of God making possible even the personal recognition of sinfulness and interest in salvation – atonement, justification, reconciliation, redemption when the blood of Christ is applied to our hearts – sanctification and glorification as a once and continued action. In Paul’s case, there was a very definitive change in attitude and perception following his Damascus road experience, but all he was told was that the one responsible for the experience was Jesus – the object of his persecution – and to go the city. On the Street called Straight Ananias shared his vision and Paul’s mission from God to preach the Gospel. So, perhaps regeneration on the Damascus road and salvation at the hearing of the message from the Lord in the city? Since we don’t know the heart of anyone else and we are not told in scripture anything like – “at that very moment Saul was saved and was thenceforth called Paul” – it would only be supposition.

        Whenever the moment of salvation actually came to Saul, however, the testimony remains as a miraculous work of God in the life of one who once persecuted and now preached the Gospel; an instance where only God would receive the glory, so the main point is not lost regardless of the timing on the particulars.

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  6. This has been an interesting thing to think about as a father, because for me the break was very definite – I was once a skeptical agnostic, and I became a believing Christian; I know when that choice was made and the circumstances that drew me to that point.

    For my children, not so much. In fact my oldest son has mentioned before that he sometime feels inadequate because he doesn’t have a dramatic conversion story. What I see in them though is much less need to overcome the pain and difficulty that a life of waywardness brings – and in many ways they are able to be more effective in their day to day lives by building on the foundation that was laid for them.

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    1. I think what your sons are experiencing is the “normal” way of conversion for those who are raised in a Christian household. My 7 year old, recently stood up at the end of worship to tell us that he is now a Christian because he believes in Christ. But I expect there will be more declarations of faith as his faith grows. That is natural in children. They will be confronted with the need to continually trust as they grow until they are grounded in the faith. I’m glad he doesn’t have a dramatic conversion. I had one of those and it got to the point in seminary that I no longer wanted to share my testimony because I felt like… well, that too many people wanted to hear the gory details, not of the glory of our Savior.

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    1. My wife ran into that in a class once as well. I highly recommend asking them for verses, then pointing to 1 John and such and how the Bible teaches you to test if you are saved now.

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    2. I ran into a variant. “If Satan causes you to question your salvation, then give your life to Christ all over again. Then, go right the date and time on a wooden stake and pound it into the ground in the back yard. The next time Satan causes you to question your salvation, take him out back and show him the stake.” Ummm … okay.

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    3. Following up on the 1 John reference, we are told and reminded over and over of the critical importance or remaining in Him. Abiding in Christ is where we gain our confidence. There are many tests given to distinguish between those who do not acknowledge the Son and those that do acknowledge the Son. Nowhere do the scriptures teach explicitly that knowledge of the time and date of your personal heart change takes place a necessity for confidence of sonship. I would encourage you to read the list of distinguishing factors between those who are children of God and those that are not, and focus on those passages that explain from whence our confidence in Christ comes. Perhaps carving one of those verses of confidence based on abiding in Christ on a stake and driving that in your yard would be just as encouraging, and i’m quite sure the Word of God as it is written will drive out the enemy. Blessings.

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  7. Ph: 2:12, So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

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  8. i have no idea when i was saved i do not know the time, the day, the month or the year. But do know that i am washed by the blood of the lamb.

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