Pastor John Piper told a young Christian wondering if her relationship with the Heavenly Father is healthy that God wants her to feel rest assured that she belongs to Him. Good deeds, he stressed, won't lead to acceptance from God.
Piper told young podcast listener Mara, "God wants you to be confident that you belong to Him. He doesn't want you Mara to worry about your relationship."
Quoting 1 John 5:13, he continued, "He wants us, He want you to enjoy confidence, enjoy assurance, He wants you to be sure that you're OK with God so when you go to bed at night, you don't have to be afraid of anything. You can have a real peaceful night's sleep and even if you died in the middle of the night, you'd be OK, you'd be safe with Jesus."
The retired Bethlehem Baptist Church pastor warned her from believing that she must "be good" in order to keep God's love.
"Don't ever start counting your good deeds to see if you have enough of them to make God accept you. That's not the way He accepts you. That's what the devil wants you to do, is to relate to God like that."
He explained, "You are saved, Mara. That is, you're forgiven for all the bad things you have done and will ever do; you are accepted by God as His child; you are given eternal life by faith in Jesus not by doing good things or being a good girl. That's so crucial."
God in His sovereignty, Piper clarified, will maintain believers' relationship with Him. "God keeps you from unbelief; God holds you in his hand." Referring to a Bible passage that proclaims that God knows His followers and no one can snatch them away from Him, Piper urged, "Be confident that God will keep you, God will make your relationship good."
The Desiring God founder and teacher praised Mara for seeking to have a right relationship with God. Piper quoted the Scriptures to show that all Christians are encouraged to examine their faith. "Second Corinthians 13:5 [says] 'Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves or do you not realize this about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you unless indeed you fail to meet the test.' So you're absolutely right to raise the question, are there tests, is there a way that I can think that would help me know my relationship with God is a good one."
Anyone can test their relationship with God, Piper said, by questioning themselves whether they can confess God as lord and father, love learning about God, enjoy fellowshipping with His people and if they regularly confess their sins to Him.
Piper shared, "Here's something amazing from 1 John 1:7. It says if we say we have no sin, we're not walking in the light but if we're walking in the light, we confess our sins. Now that's amazing because it says therefore walking in the light – that means having a good relationship with God – includes confessing sin which can't mean walking in the light means sinlessness; it doesn't. So one way to know you're in a good relationship with God is not that you don't ever sin, but that you recognize your sin because light is shining in your heart and you confess it and you say you're sorry to God for it and you ask Jesus to cover it with His blood."
The retired pastor concluded his podcast by urging Mara to focus on Jesus and getting to know Him. He ended, "I pray that God will make you a strong and fruitful young woman."