How can I know that I am saved? Is it something intuitive, like a witness to your spirit, or is it measurable? How can I know if another person is saved? Can salvation be seen and clearly witnessed through the way a person lives? Can we know without a doubt that anyone is saved – or is it all a matter of hope? Are we just hoping, that on the Day of Judgment, we will be found “not guilty?” What exactly is the assurance of salvation?
The word ‘saved’ according to several dictionaries means “to be delivered from harm, danger, and even the loss of life; to rescue or deliver someone from imminent harm.” Most often, it is used in the context of a person saved from drowning. Let’s say you were on the Titanic when it hits the iceberg. You are one of the few that makes it onto a life raft. However, when the sun comes up you are surround by hungry sharks waiting to enjoy you for breakfast. Unless you are rescued and saved, you will surely perish in the sea. After several day with no food and only a little water, you realized death is staring you in the face. At the last minute you are rescued and saved. Immediately, joy floods your soul. It’s as if you passed from death to life. You will forever be grateful to those who found you. Why? Because you were saved; your life was spared!
So, how are we saved from eternal death? Jesus explained it to Nicodemus this way: “Unless you are born again, you cannot see (perceive or become aware of) the Kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). In verse 5, He said, “Unless you are born of water (natural birth) and the Spirit (spiritual birth) you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” We must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God.
Every person ever born has a spirit. It’s part of our triune make up, along with our body and soul. However, we are also born with a sin nature that separates us from God. (Psalm 51:5) Sin binds our spirit in a dormant state. Our spirit is there, but it doesn’t do what it was created to do. You might think about it like a phone not connected to a service provider. It has all the components to make a call, but it must be activated before it can work. In the same way, our spirit must be made alive in God, before we can ever “know” (experience) God. (John 17:3) Without the intervening work of the Holy Spirit, our human spirit will remain dormant and cut off from God.
The Bible says it’s a dreadful thing to fall in the hand of the living God! The Passion Translation says it this way… “It is the most terrifying thing of all to come under the judgment of the Living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) The context of that verse has to do with the Judgment Seat of God. Hebrews 10:26 we are told that if we continue to persist in deliberate sin there is no longer another sacrifice for us. In other words, if we receive the truth of God’s Word, and yet continue to live in sin and disobedience – we will come under judgment on the Day of His Wrath. Obedience is important to avoid the Judgment of the Almighty.
In John chapter one, the Bible says, “Jesus came to His own (the Jewish people) but His own did not receive Him. But to as many as received Him, to them He gave the right (power) to become the children of God.” (John 1:11-12) In order to receive Jesus as Messiah, Lord, and Savior, a person must repent of their sins and believe the gospel. John the Baptist came preaching repentance to prepare the way of the Lord. Jesus then came announcing that the Kingdom of God is at hand, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Sincere repentance and faith give birth to regeneration. The moment a person truly repents of their sin and believes the gospel, their spirit is made alive, and they become a new creation in Christ Jesus! It’s as if life starts over. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
When babies are born, it doesn’t take long before they start to cry. It’s their way to tell us they need food. Without milk the newborn will die; their life will be short lived. It’s the same when a person is born again. They also need milk, the spiritual milk of the Word of God. They will have a hunger to read the Bible, the source of spiritual food. It’s as instinctual as a newborn baby crying for milk, part of our survival instinct. If the born-again believer does not eat the word of God, they too will die.
In 1 Peter 1:23, Peter tells us, “We are born again by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God.”That seed creates a hunger in the soul. The very first sign of a genuine salvation is a hunger to know God and read the Bible. But it doesn’t stop there. Just as a newborn baby needs to keep eating – so does a new believer. They will never stop wanting to read the Bible. Jesus told us, “Man does not live by bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Just as natural food feeds the body, spiritual food feeds the soul. If a Christians stops reading the Bible, they will begin to fall away – because the Word of God is the bread of life!
Many today profess Christianity but seem to have no interest in the Bible. They say things like: I just can’t get into it, or it’s too hard to understand or I’m just too busy to read it. Those statements are indicators that they may have never been born again – or – the devil has deceived them into committing spiritual suicide. You don’t have to force a healthy baby to eat. In the same way, you don’t have to force a believer to read the word of God. The church is often blamed for not discipling new converts, but you don’t have to twist the arm of a genuine believer to read the Bible! They will hunger for the Word of God. If you have to coax someone to read the Bible – it’s a good sign they are not born again.
I Corinthians 2:14 states, “… the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Why is that? Because the natural mind cannot comprehend what the Bible says. It’s like trying to read a book in a language you never learned. However, when a person is born again, their eyes are opened, and the Bible comes alive!
We are living in the age of deception, maybe the greatest hour of deception in the history of man. Repeatedly, the Scriptures warn us: “Do not be deceived.” In Matthew 24, Jesus talking about the days immediately prior to His return, said, “Do not to be deceived.” Four times, He warned His disciples, “Do not be deceived,” because many will be led astray.
Over the past eighty to a hundred years, the gospel message has been reduced to one of easy-believism, a message aimed at making a person feel good about themselves. This is rooted in a doctrine called Universalism – the idea that everyone is saved because Jesus died for the sins of the world. It’s true Jesus died for the sins of every person, but that’s not the end of the story. What Jesus did is part of the equation; what we do is the other part. Those who believe in (completely rely on) His name – are born from above – have the right to become children of God. Salvation is offered to all, but only those who respond to His grace will benefit from it.
Leaving out part of the gospel message has opened the door to deception! In recent years, words like ‘sin, repentance, hell, judgment, wrath, and damnation,’ seem to have disappeared from the vocabulary of the church. We no longer talk about the fear of God, righteousness, holiness, or the wrath to come – for fear that someone might be offended and leave. As a result, we have created a gospel that is leading millions astray, and here’s the scary part – they don’t know it. They think praying a prayer, walking an aisle, or having some sort of experience with God makes them okay. They are banking on the idea that their name is written in the Lambs book of life! (See Revelation 3:5)
The greater deception, however, may be among us who do believe! We have been deceived into thinking that those who profess to be saved, yet display no evidence of salvation, are really saved. Can a person live like the world and go to heaven? The word ‘Christian’ means to be like Christ – to live, talk, and act like Christ. Yet, many today that profess to be a Christian are living a life that looks nothing like Christ.
Many Christians are duped into believing their children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and/or neighbors are saved – even though there are no signs of spiritual life. The message of the modern-day gospel has blinded us from the true message of salvation. It’s possible that millions have been deceived in believing they are going to heaven – while living like hell on earth. It’s a lie. If your children, grandchildren, siblings, neighbors and/or friends, are living like the world with on no hunger for God – most likely, they are not saved.
So, can a person know they are truly saved? The answer is yes, absolutely. Jesus said you can tell what is in a person by the fruit of their life. In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus warned us, “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”(NLT) We can identify a true believer by the fruit of their life. If there is no fruit, the Spirit of God is not in them. They may fool you, but they won’t fool God.
Saints, we need to wake up and begin to pray! If we really care about the eternal destiny of others, we need to pray for them. That’s where it all begins… The absence of the true, Biblical gospel has caused hearts to grow cold, and the ground in America has become gospel hardened. People are not interested in the good news. That is why America is often described as the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” The Laodicean church was deceived!
There is a veil of deception today – not just on the unsaved but on many believers as well. We have been inoculated by a gospel that promises abundant life – at no personal cost. I’m afraid we have accepted another gospel other than the One in the Bible, another Jesus other than the One we encounter in the New Testament. The good news, however, is that Jesus is still inviting people to follow Him, and His message has not changed: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”(Matt 16:24)
If there is ever a time to pray for the lost, it is now! Many are walking on the wide road that leads to death – and they don’t know it. They have been led to believe that eternity awaits them with open arms, but I fear that is not the case. We must pray for hearts to be softened and eyes to be opened. Pray that conviction of sin would fall once again upon the Church of Jesus Christ. The eternal destiny of millions may be affected by our prayers. Token prayers won’t reach the lost, but prayers of travail mixed with tears will reach those in bondage to the prince of this age! (Ephesians 2:2)
James 5:16b states that, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, avails much,”(KJV) but the question is: Will we pray? Will we speak the truth in love? Will we rescue those who are perishing – as though pulling them from the fire? Do we really care? Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century preacher in England, said it this way: “If our heart is not broken over the lost, maybe we need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.”