Some people rely on very flimsy rationales for assuming they are right with God. Charles Finney relates this story in his autobiography, a story that has been repeated endlessly in different forms in all times and places.
During that revival my attention was called to a sick woman in the community, who had been a member of a Baptist church, and was well-known in the place; but people had no confidence in her piety. She was fast failing with the consumption; and they begged me to call and see her. I went and had a long conversation with her.
She told me a dream which she had when she was a girl, which made her think that her sins were forgiven. Upon that she had settled down, and no argument could move her. I tried to persuade her, that there was no evidence of her conversion, in that dream. I told her plainly that her acquaintances affirmed that she had never lived a Christian life, and had never evinced a Christian temper; and I had come to try to persuade her to give up her false hope, and see if she would not now accept Jesus Christ that she might be saved.
I dealt with her as kindly as I could, but did not fail to make her understand what I meant. But she took great offence; and after I went away complained that I tried to get away her hope and distress her mind; that I was cruel to try to distress a woman as sick as she was, in that way—to try to disturb the repose of her mind.
She died not long afterward. . . . When this woman came to be actually dying, her eyes were opened; and before she left the world she seemed to have such a glimpse of the character of God, and of what heaven was, and of the holiness required to dwell there, that she shrieked with agony, and exclaimed that she was going to hell. In this state, as I was informed, she died.
A sad story, to be sure. I’m reminded of the Scripture in Hebrews: “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. . . . Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”