I grew up in a church where it was very important for people to remember the “moment” of their personal salvation experience. Some people call this “being born again,” others call it “getting saved,” still others call it “finding Jesus” or “getting the Spirit.” It really does not matter what one calls it, so long as a person knows that at some point in their life they have made peace with God and made a commitment to follow Him with their lives. Growing up, I often heard people share about this moment in their lives with great detail. Those who could not recall the experience with vivid details were sometimes suspect in their faith.
When I moved to the northeast I began to meet a lot of people who were less clear about the “moment” of their salvation. When I talk to them about what salvation means, they clearly understand it and claim to have it, but they have a harder time actually being able to pin point the exact moment it occurred. These people often did not grow up in an evangelical church. It is not uncommon to hear them talk about their personal salvation as a process that occurred over several months instead of at a single moment.
Recently I did a poll on my blog and asked people to respond to a series of questions about their own personal salvation experience. Only 22% indicated that they could remember the exact date and details of the experience. Whereas 77% indicated that they were confident they had such an experience but could not remember the exact date or details. Though my poll may not be as scientific as one done by a professional national polling organization, it does seem to agree with what I hear from those who are willing to talk to me about their personal salvation experience.
As we move into a more post-modern era, perhaps we need to worry less about remembering the exact moment of salvation and focus more on helping young people think through whether they have ever even had such an experience or not. After all, remembering the date is not what gets us into heaven; it’s the repentance of sin and commitment to Christ that makes the grade. So let’s focus on that and help young people be sure of their faith.