For me, that happened when I was a 12 year old.
But was I saved then?
This raises the question, "What comes first - salvation or faith?"
I think Paul answers that clearly when he tells us that Christ died for sinners, not believers.
But God has shown us how much he loves us---it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us! [Romans 5 : 8 GNB]Jesus paid the price for our sin and therefore we have been declared righteous (in right standing) before God. We have been declared not guilty since the death of Christ.
Paul states this also in 2 Corinthians 5 : 19 ...
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. [NIV]So our salvation came long before many of us were even born into this world, and well before we believed or had faith.
Many times I have heard an illustration that is meant to show that we are not saved until we have faith, until we believe and confess Jesus as Lord.
I use the same illustration, but in a different way.
Here is the illustration.
Suppose someone puts $1 million into my bank account without my knowledge. I have the potential or opportunity to be rich, but since I don't know the money is there and don't access it, I am still poor. Even if I am told the money is there for me, if I don't believe this news I remain poor. However, when I do believe the news and withdraw the money I become rich, then and only then.
Most users of the illustration conclude that I need to believe that the money is in my account, and there for me to use, and I need to withdraw it, before I can become rich. I need to do something (or some things) in order to be rich.
However, my interpretation is different.
I am rich the moment the money hits my account. The depositor, the bank manager and any court in the land would confirm that. And when I discover it, and withdraw and use it, I begin to experience the benefits of my newly acquired wealth.
Salvation is just like this.
I was saved when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead 2000 years ago. I wasn't even born then so had no chance of knowing that fact. But when I became aware of it, and was given the faith to believe it, I began to experience the benefits of my salvation.
Salvation is a fact established by Jesus many years ago. It was deposited into my account long before I was born. My experience of it, its benefits and responsibilities, has been growing from the time I was given the faith to believe it and walk in it.
God gives me the faith to believe the fact of salvation, what Jesus did for me years ago. He would not give me the faith to believe something that did not yet exist. So salvation must come before faith.
This fact helps me see how God will fulfil his plan to save all, as all have already been saved even though only relatively few have been given the faith to believe it and walk in it at this stage.