I am having doubts about my salvation. My first concern is that sometimes God does not seem real to me. I have asked Jesus to be my personal savior but when I read the Bible or think about God's characteristics, I have a hard time accepting it. Also when I am praying, sometimes I just cannot accept the fact that Jesus is interceding for me at that very moment, and God is ACTUALLY hearing my prayers as I say them. My second concern is that I am not sure when I am filled with the Holy Spirit. I wonder if it is just my emotions.
The proof that we are Christians is not found in our ability to understand God; nor is it in some “spiritual emotion.” We would encourage you visit Marks of a Christian. It will help you determine if you are a Christian.
Reality of God
God answered the first part of your concern when He said,
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.”For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. (NASB) Isaiah 55:8-9
In short, we cannot completely understand God. God’s character and holiness are a paradox to us. We do not understand holiness and love. Holiness demands punishment of evil – something He is not. Yet, many imagine that God is like us.
. . . You thought that I was just like you; . . . (NASB) Ps. 50:21
We cannot understand Him and our inability to perceive God does not mean that we are not Christians. It means that he is God and we are not. He is not like us and so we cannot totally understand Him.
The proof that we are Christians is not found in our ability to really know and experience God. Every true Christian longs to know God. Usually we seek an emotional experience, but emotions are deceptive. Even people of the Islamic and Hindu faiths have “spiritual emotions,” but they are not Christian since they do not worship Jesus as the one and true God. Having”spiritual emotions” does not make a person a Christian.
Our emotions have a great influence on us. They motivate us to do good and bad things. They motivate us to rest, sleep, eat, hurt people, show kindness to others, and to sin, for example. When we are emotionally down, it is easy to think that God no longer loves us or cares for us. When we feel wonderful, it is easy to think that God likes us and is greatly blessing us. But scripture tells us that God has always loved us, even before we became Christians – even while we were sinners enemies of God (Rom. 5:10).
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us . . . For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (NASB) Rom. 5:6-8, 10.
Our relationship with God, our knowledge of Him, and our closeness to Him does not depend on our emotions. He still loves us. He loved us before we became Christians and He still loves us as Christians even when we sin. Our emotions are a bad indicator of the health of our relationship with God. There is an old statement that goes like this: “Fact,” “faith,” and then “feeling.” I find this to be very helpful. God has given us His Word which is Truth or “fact.” When we believe it, our “faith” will increase. Faith/dependence/trust is not a blind jump into nothing. Instead, it is a rational and heart felt decision to hand ourselves over to God. Why did I include “heart felt”? I included it because once we know the “fact” or “truth,” and have “faith” or start “trusting or depending” on Him, the “feelings” follow. That is why many people who come to Jesus come with great emotion. They realized the truth, responded by believing and then the emotions flowed. Facts come first, followed by faith, and then come the feelings.
BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. (NASB) Heb. 10:38.
The Holy Spirit
It is not possible to always sense the Holy Spirit by our feelings. On one occasion, Paul the apostle was not sure if he was under the control of the Holy Spirit while he was writing scripture (1 Cor. 7:40). Here is an apostle who was not positive that the Holy Spirit was influencing him. Yet scripture tells us that when we are filled with His Spirit, there are psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing, and thanksgiving in our hearts.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (NASB) Ephesians 5:18-20
These are emotions generated by the Holy Spirit. These emotions are God focused. This happens in only one way. We must be filled with the Spirit of God. These emotions are the results of the Holy Spirit’s filling or control of our lives. Remember that we cannot always “feel” that we are Spirit filled.
Do not depend on your feelings. They will deceive you. Remember the statement “fact-faith-feeling” and remember the command, “be filled with the Spirit.” You might also be interested in the a link entitled, “How can I know the Spirit of God has come on me?“.