Many people struggle with assurance of their salvation. Even though they have placed their trust in Christ alone and believe that the Bible says this is the way to salvation, they agonize over whether they have been truly converted. Because they don’t always feel assurance, they doubt.
They are not alone. Even such an historical giant as Martin Luther wrestled with doubts. To those who were concerned that perhaps they may not have been one of the elect, his basic advice was, “Thank God for your torments.” It is characteristic of the elect, not of the reprobate, to tremble at the hidden counsel of God. In addition, he recommended a recognition that these doubts came not from God, but the devil. A believer ought to flatly reject the devil who brings such thoughts and fix his eyes upon the Savior. When a parishioner named Barbara Lisskirchen asked for advice regarding this issue, Luther responded:
When such thoughts assail you, you should learn to ask yourself, “If you please, in what Commandment is it written that I should think about and deal with this matter?” When it appears that there is no such Commandment, learn to say, “Be gone, wretched devil! You are trying to make me worry about myself. But God declares everywhere that I should let him care for me…”
The highest of all God’s commands is this, that we hold up before our eyes the image of his dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Every day he should be our excellent mirror wherein we behold how much God loves us and how well in his infinite goodness, he has cared for us in that he gave his dear Son for us.
In this way, I say, and in no other, does one learn how to deal properly with the question of predestination. It will be manifest that you believe in Christ. If you believe, then you are called. And if you are called, then you are most certainly predestinated. Do not let this mirror and throne of grace be torn away from before your eyes…Contemplate Christ given for us. Then, God willing, you will feel better.
Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, ed. T.G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1955), 116.