The Salvation Debate
There are differences of opinion within the Christian community; in regards to Salvation, and when and how exactly is a person Saved. It is generally accepted that there is nothing that we can do to earn eternal life, but on one side; there are those that believe that a sincere desire to repent of sins and to accept Jesus as Savior, is basically what is required to be Saved; and that such a person's seat in heaven is secure once they profess to be Saved. This God's Simple Plan of Salvation link pretty much sums up what I believe a majority of Christians subscribe to. On the other side, there are opinions that reflect a belief, that many that believe they gave their life to Christ, and profess to be Saved, actually may not be Saved!! To begin investigating the view of this side, for starters, check out some websites on this Am I Saved page.
Many people are like I was; a person that was without a solid opinion one way or another about this most critical topic, and content to be that way. Obviously this is not good, and people that feel this way need to spend some quiet time with God, examine themselves, check out sermons and other resources. Searching Tests for if You're Saved can yield a lot of info. Please take the necessary time to properly address this issue within your own mind!
As for my opinion, I do believe that if a person decides in their heart to give their life to Christ, then I do believe that person is Saved from that point. Not saying that the person won't fall short of the mark daily, but I believe that the presence of the Holy Spirit in a Believer's life attempts to steer him/her in the right direction, and the individual is at least generally aware of the steering, to the point of often feeling the resistance in their heart when attempting to follow the ways of the world. I also believe, however; that there are people that out of emotion or whatever, professed to give their life to Christ, but in their heart actually didn't intend to do so. Not that they are necessarily putting on an act, but if they take the time later on to examine themselves as God can give them the opportunity to, they should know themselves that they are basically the same person as before professing to be Saved. 1John 3:8-10 in the Amplied Bible states:
8 The one who practices sin [separating himself from God, and offending Him by acts of disobedience, indifference, or rebellion] is of the devil [and takes his inner character and moral values from him, not God]; for the devil has sinned and violated God’s law from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, because God’s seed [His principle of life, the essence of His righteous character] remains [permanently] in him [who is born again—who is reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose]; and he [who is born again] cannot habitually [live a life characterized by] sin, because he is born of God and longs to please Him. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are clearly identified: anyone who does not practice righteousness [who does not seek God’s will in thought, action, and purpose] is not of God, nor is the one who does not [unselfishly] love his [believing] brother.
This really takes it up a notch, and I believe requires real and honest self examination. 1 Corinthians 11:31 says; For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. I believe it is critical for the Believer to do this on a regular basis.