How do we know we’re saved?
For “seasoned” Christians like myself, we’re all too quick to answer, “Well, because I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to earth to die on a cross and rise again.” It’s that simple, isn’t it? I mean, doesn’t our Lord say in john 3:16 that “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”? So that’s it, right? We believe in Him, and we’re in, bada-bing bada-boom. Of course we know we’re saved! But what if I told you there was more to it than that? What if simply saying you believe in the existence of God and His Son doesn’t get you all the way?
Doesn’t the bible also say in Matthew 7:21 that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven”, and that “Even the demons believe – and shudder! (James 2)”?
So then how do we know? What sets us apart from the demons, who will be cast forever into the fire?
Have you ever been challenged in your spiritual walk? I have, and I truly relish those moments, because I know they will lead to growth and wisdom. This week I was challenged; I was pushed beyond my comfort zone and feel as though I have grown considerably as a Christian.
What I learned was nothing new. Individually they were parts of the bible that I knew almost by heart. There was no mind-blowing revelation about them or their interpretation. Rather, they were simply blended in a way that I hadn’t seen them before.
If you’ve been saved longer than a week, chances are good you’re familiar with the verse in Matthew 7 which reads “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.”
The verse speaks of the works and deeds of men. Jesus is adamant that evil works cannot come from a good man, and good works cannot come from an evil man.
Now wait, how can that be? As Christians we know that we are imperfect and in need of grace because of our sin.
I’m a big believer in going back to the Greek in situations like this, so let’s take a look. The word evil here comes from the Greek word ponēros, which means full of hardships, or of bad nature. Clearly Jesus isn’t saying that a good Christian will never sin or produce a bad work, or even struggle with a thorn in the flesh like Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7). Instead, He is speaking of the constant nature of the person.
If not for grace, there go I. I have sins, dark and vile sins, just like everyone else on this planet. When I read Paul say he is the chiefest of sinners I laugh and shake my head, oh if only he knew ME!
But God does know me, He knew me from the beginning of time, and He provided exactly what He knew I was going to need; A Savior. And because of the sacrifice of The Spotless Lamb, I am free. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17
The old is gone, the spirit of Christ reigns in my heart – I am not who I was, and so I am not bound to the sins I once committed.
And so a person who lives a full life of sinful disregard – no matter how many Sundays they sit and shout “Amen” from their seat in church – is at best completely inhibiting any kind of relationship with God, and at worst in very real danger of being deceived about their salvation.
How do we know, then? The bible has the answer, if we only choose to seek it.
2 Corinthians 13:5 ” Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified”
Test yourselves. Are you living in line with the way God has called us to live? We don’t have to guess, y’all, He lays it out for us through His Son in the Word. Grace isn’t an excuse to live recklessly and sinfully, and if we can do that without feeling the burn of our conscience, we need to sit down and ask ourselves very seriously if we have Jesus in our hearts at all.
If you find the answer is no, I beseech you to embrace Him with more than words, but with all of your heart, and soul, and mind.
And if the answer is yes? We need to quiet ourselves and listen for that still small voice. To get back on the narrow path and reestablish our fellowship with Christ.
So right now, tonight, I invite you to ask yourself – judging by your fruit – which tree are you?
Disclaimer: I fully and completely believe in the idea of once saved always saved. I do not believe that a Christian who, at one time in their life, made a sincere and honest decision to accept Jesus into their lives as their savior, and asked for forgiveness of their sins, can lose that salvation in a season of backsliding. However, I believe the grey area of “Am I backslidden, or was I never truly saved?” is one that should be avoided at all costs, for our soul’s eternal sake.