How Can A Person Know If They Are Saved?

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”
John 10:27

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” Romans 8:16

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MAN is so evil, so depraved, so darkened in his mind, spirit, and body, that he can not save himself from his own sin. Even the best man is a sinner. Left to his own nature, he will gladly march off into hell while making a joyful song along the way. He will defy God either through pursuing his own wicked desires without restraint, or he will defy God through religious inventions, rituals, and ceremonies. The only way any man can be saved is if God has mercy on him. And the good news is that God has seen fit to bless a multitude of undeserving sinners with salvation, having chosen them out of his mercy to receive the benefits of the blood of Jesus Christ. This blessed multitude is known as His “sheep” in the Bible. He visits all of His sheep through the Holy Spirit, opening their hearts, giving them a desire toward Christ, making them willing to follow Him in faith. The Bible says that they will follow him, and they will “find pasture”, that is, they will be satisfied in Him, and will endure in their faith. This is the good news – the Gospel. This is the Gospel by which we come to know that He has saved us.

How do I know if I am saved?

Everyone’s salvation experience is different. The Apostles Matthew, James, and John simply received a call from Jesus, “follow me”, and they followed Him. The Apostle Paul, in contrast, had a spectacular conversion experience when Jesus, in a glorified state, appeared to him on the road to Demascus. The Jews at Pentecost were “pricked in their heart” upon hearing the preaching of Peter. The Phillipian Jailor was about to kill himself after an earthquake had opened the doors of the jail, when Paul and Silas cried out “we are all here”. Convinced that he had been visited by God, he came trembling to Paul and Silas and cried, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Later we find the jailor “believing, with all his house.” And me, God used the testimony of a teenager at a youth meeting and the first Gospel message I ever heard to bring me to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. How would you describe your salvation experience? Have you had one? Have you been “converted”?

“Ye must be born again” John 3:7

Now let us first understand that the new birth spoken of in the Book of John Chapter 3 is a supernatural work of God, and this work is totally in His hands. John said “the wind (pneuma, spirit) bloweth where it listeth (wills, desires)”. This means that God’s Spirit moves by God’s will, not man’s will. This is an invisible, “secret” work of God. But a person that has born again of the Spirit may know that he has been saved because the Holy Spirit “bears witness” with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And just what does this “bearing witness” consist of? How can we know that we have been born of the Spirit of God?

There is a mystical meaning to the witness of the Spirit. He bears witness with our spirit. This is an experiential knowledge of the heart, which is expressed in the old hymn “He Lives” written by the Presbyterian, Bently Ackly, in these words:

“You ask me how I know He lives? He LIVES WITHIN MY HEART!”

However, there is also an evidential meaning to this. In other words, the Holy Spirit brings about certain evidences, or “fruits”, by which salvation becomes a certainty in our lives. Let’s look at some of those fruits.

I. CONVERSION ITSELF IS A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

I speak here of a conversion that is related to eternal salvation. There is a conversion that is not related to eternal salvation. The word conversion simply means to turn, or re-turn, depending on the context. It is made up of two elements – repentance and faith. These also can have a non-spiritual meaning. For example, someone may be converted (turn) from communism to capitalism because they repent (change their mind about communism and capitalism) and put their faith in (establish a continuing relationship with) capitalism. But that conversion has nothing to do with eternal salvation. Also, a person may be converted from bad behavior to good behavior, but this type of conversion would be a conversion “under the law”, and has nothing to do with eternal salvation. A person may regret doing bad things, and determine to turn over a new leaf, and better himself. This is moral conversion, not conversion to Christ. This is one of the most misunderstood teachings on conversion. Saving conversion is all about Who we trust for our salvation – it has nothing to do with how moral we may consider ourselves to have become. When we experience conversion to Christ, we can know that we are eternally saved.

Repentance is a fruit of the Spirit. The Bible says that God “granted” repentance to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18), and that He would “give” repentance to Israel (Act 5:31). Repentance, as it relates to eternal salvation, is a change of mind about how we can be saved. Whereas before we were convinced that we had the power within ourselves to “get” saved whenever we thought ourselves ready, either by our own righteousness or by our own wills; but now we are convinced that we must be saved by Christ and Him alone, through His righteousness and His will. Our world view changes. God is now the center of our world; before, it was ourselves. The purpose of our lives changes from pursuing our own pleasure to pursuing God’s pleasure and will.

Faith is a fruit of the Spirit.

Romans 10:8-10 (KJV) “8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.“

If you have an enduring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can know that you have been saved. By enduring, I do not mean that your faith will never be tested, or go through times of weakness. What I mean is that through all the trials and testing, God will not allow you to fall away, but will strengthen your faith in due time in spite of your own weakness.

Faith compliments repentance, and the two together completes the experience of conversion. We have a change of mind about our relationship with God, and turn to him in a personal, trusting relationship with Christ through faith.

WARNING: A PROFESSION OF FAITH DOES NOT GAURANTEE THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED.

Faith that is professed with the mouth, but not possessed in the heart, is useless. Here is the difference between a profession and a confession: A profession is a self-projected claim, which can not be necessarily proven. I can profess to be an astronaut all I want, but I can’t necessarily prove it. A confession, on the other hand, is a claim based on agreement with another entity, which can be proven. I confess that I have faith and I can prove it because it is in my heart. No, I can’t prove it to you (although, James says I can show you my faith by my works; but that’s another topic for another day), because faith is an invisible work of God, but I can prove it to myself, because I know that faith is there. Because we possess Christ in our heart, we confess Him with our mouth. Our mouth is in agreement with our heart.

Someone might have told you that you could “get” saved by just saying a prayer, or getting baptized, or by walking down the aisle of a church, or taking communion, or a multitude of other sacraments. But NONE OF THESE THINGS CAN SAVE YOU. You must posses the faith of Christ in your heart. And if you do, you can know that you are saved. As the Apostle Paul said: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (II Tim 1:12)

WARNING: BEWARE OF “NATURAL” FAITH

All men have natural faith. I have faith that my chair will hold me up, but that faith is based on natural observation. I expect the chair to hold me up. If it doesn’t, I quickly lose my faith in the chair. But natural faith will not save me from my sins. Natural faith is based on expectations. If we expect things from God, and He does not respond in accordance with our expectations, then our faith vanishes. Saving faith is a supernatural faith that comes from God. It does not make demands on God. It believes not only in what He can do, but much the more, it believes in HIM with no other conditions or qualifications.

Examples of natural, failing faith:

John 6:66 (KJV) From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

They followed him for a while, as long as they thought they would get food and healing from Him. But when they became dissatisfied with His doctrine, they left Him.

2 Timothy 4:10 (KJV) For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica;”

Demas was one of Paul’s helpers. He had done many good works. But in the end, his true love shows through, and Paul exposes it. He “loved the world”, rather than the things of God. Many people will pretend to be true Christians, and they may hold out their pretence a long time. Some people really want wealth or some other worldly benefit from religion. But God will eventually expose them for what they are.

Acts 8:13 (KJV) Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Acts 8:20-23 (KJV) 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.

This is the account of Simon the sorcerer. Verse 13 has confused many bible students, because it says that Simon believed, was baptized, and continued. Some have understood this to mean that he really was saved but then lost his salvation. Others understand it to mean that Simon really was saved, and remained saved, but as a child of God, came under God’s chastisement. But Simon’s belief was a failing belief – that he was never truly converted, for Peter says of him, “thou art…in the bond of iniquity”. Christians are never referred to in this fashion in the Bible. Simon’s “belief” was nothing more than a mere profession. His hope was not Christ, but rather his hope was obtaining fortune and fame through performing the spectacular miracles that the Apostles performed. He was never truly converted to Christ.

I could give other examples, but it is enough to say that all these false professors are described in the parable of the sower, in the words of Jesus:

Matthew 13:18-23 (KJV) 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

God prepares the “good ground” for the seed of the word by giving His sheep the ability to hear and understand it. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.

SAVING FAITH HAS AN OBJECT

Colossians 1:4 (KJV) Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Saving faith is not faith in faith, or faith in one’s self, or faith in a teacher, or faith in Mary, or faith in the church, or faith in a sacrament, or faith in a ritual, or faith in a prayer. Saving faith is faith in Christ alone. Nothing else. Faith is coming empty-handed, pleading before Him for mercy.

SAVING FAITH HAS A SOURCE

Ephesians 2:8 (KJV) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Philippians 1:29 (KJV) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Philippians 2:13 (KJV) For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Saving faith is not of ourselves. It is the gift of God. He gives us enduring faith so that we may know that we are His sheep – so that we may know that we are saved. We are kept by the power of God through this faith He has imparted to us.

SAVING FAITH HAS A RESIDENCE

“for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”
This does not speak of the physical organ. It speaks of the “inner man”. Saving faith resides in our innermost being. There is a rational side to faith, but it does not come to us through our rational thought processes. Somehow, God touches a person’s heart, and imparts faith into it. And there it is.

SAVING FAITH IS NORMALLY ACTIVATED BY THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD
The only way you can know something is by the communication of information. The Bible, and bible-based works such as Gospel preaching, tracts, personal witnessing, and even this article you are reading, is the way that God communicates with us. When we hear the good news, how that Christ died for our sins, we who have faith dwelling in our hearts can then believe in Christ and thereby come to know that we have been born again.

II. AN INTEREST IN HAVING A GOD-LIKE CHARACTER IS A FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

I can know I am saved because I believe in Christ and Him alone for my salvation. But assurance of salvation doesn’t stop there. If there were no progression in our conversion experience, we might have a reason to doubt that we are saved. But the Bible declares that we can continue to have confidence in our salvation if we bear certain sign, or fruit, of the Spirit of God working in our lives. The Bible says:

2 Peter 1:5-10 (KJV) 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”

So we are to add certain things to our faith such as virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, goldliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. As “we” add these things to our faith, we keep in mind that it is God who is working in us, both to do and to will of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13) And if we do these things, we shall never fall. But fall from what? Ye shall never fall from your confidence, your assurance, in Christ.

The list given in 2 Peter 1 is not intended to be exhaustive. There are many features of a Christian character. Some more are listed in this passage:

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

These lists are not to be used as a checklist, to be checked off when we think we have attained a certain level of goodness. The idea is that because we desire, by the Holy Spirit, to please God in all things, we generally progress toward these types of virtues. That is not to say that we don’t have set backs. Romans Chapter 7 tells me that “even when I would do good, evil is present with me”. So the struggle with evil in our hearts never ends in this life. But when we begin to experience changes in our inner self, in our character, we can know that God is working in us, which gives us great assurance that we are saved.

The opening banner of this article speaks of the sheep of Christ. Here are there characteristics according to that verse:

1. They hear His voice.
2. He knows (loves) them
3. They follow Him.

The other opening verse speaks of the Holy Spirit. He bears witness with our spirit. This article has discussed several ways that we may know that He is bearing witness with our Spirit.

Now examine yourself, whether you are in the faith. Do you know if you have been saved?

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4 Responses to “How Can A Person Know If They Are Saved?”

  1. A.W. Pink: How may I know I have understood the gospel and that I am elect? « Sovereign God Ministries Says:

    […] A.W. Pink: How may I know I have understood the gospel and that I am elect? From time to time I will be posting some of the great quotes from some of the great Bible teachers.  And most quotable of the quotable men is Arthur Walkington Pink.  Here he tells us some things about knowing and having assurance that one is “elect”.  This quote is a perfect capstone to my previous articles “How Does God Save People?” and How Can A Person Know If They Are Saved?“. […]

  2. Bob Says:

    Hi, i found this letter very interesting as i have many periods of doubting my salvation. This can be for many reasons but my ability to commit what to God must be haenous sins which is the one which worries me most.
    My understanding of scripture tells me i should now be able to “go and sin no more” or at the very least be able to “overcome” the desires of the flesh and “walk in the spirit” but have to admit i dont know what that really means. Its a spiritual term but seems unattainable to me. I have also suffered ill health since shortly after “my conversion” in 95 which makes me “doubt a lot” about “my redemption” being sure and certain. I feel i now read scripture with a critical heart and seem to find fault in even the grammer. I am very questionable about things i took for granted to be true in 95..Ie: why was the tree of life in the garden when if eaten of before the tree of Knowledge man would have lived forever as rebels? making salvation impossible as written. This must be true or God would not have “barred the way” to the tree of life for fallen man. Even though deep down i WANT this gospel to be the truth about afterlife i am now thinking that my whole “christian experience” has been built on wishfull thinking as the alternative world views are so terrible. I would LOVE to be like the many guys i listen to who are SO SURE and seemingly SO HOLY as scripture claims you need to be to see God but sadly i feel more like ” a doubting Thomas with the Loyalty of Judas as i seem to sell out my original conviction of needing and accepting this saviour by doing “sinful things” which have haunted me all my adult life, ie: gambling, lust and a lack of ambition or laziness. So, how can i rid myself for ever of these torments and like the “men of faith” i trust and admire, walk in victory over my sinful nature and make something of the last 16 years of my working life going on into retirement and beyond?. I would be so grateful for any advice that actually works for me. Thanks.

    • Joel Says:

      Bob: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”. Hang on to that simplicity. But it’s not always a bad thing to doubt one’s salvation. You must be born again, but remember that faith is the chief evidence of the new birth. Do you have faith in Christ? I say trust in HIS abilities and not your own. Pray that God will give you assurance that you are His.

      Sin plagues the Christian as long as he is in the flesh. “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7). Do not be alarmed that your flesh and the mind of the flesh unceasingly pushes you to sin. But be alarmed if you have no conscience of sin. In other words, can you sin without it bothering you? I think sin bothers you as your words reveal. You have a desire for holiness that you find difficulty in achieving. In fact, you find it impossible. Guess what?…SO DO I! And so do all other Christians. We love our Lord, but find ourselves struggling to please Him due to the weakness of our flesh.

      ALL Christians experience this struggle – even the ones that you call “men of faith”. I would recommend that you get and read the book “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners” by John Bunyan and see for yourself the great struggle of faith of one of the great Christians in history.

      God has a purpose for you – he did not call you into the faith for nothing! But his will can be secret and slow to be revealed to you. Your mission may be “small”, it may be large – you don’t know what’s ahead, but you should anticipate the day that you – your life and/or testimony – will be the means by which God may call another of His elect into His Kingdom.

      In due time God will give you some measure of victory over your besetting sins, but keep in mind that it will take longer than you would like, and it may not be as complete as you would like. In the end, He will have the glory and His purposes will be fulfilled.

      As for your critical approach to the Bible, this could be because of some exposure to Bible critics which are prevalent in our world today – even in the Church. You may find the grammer difficult if you are reading the old King James Version – I appreciate the struggle it can be but I believe that that is the Bible you should read if you can. Another version may help you understand the text better but other versions should be regarded as lower in realiability in my opinion.

      You concern about being sick after your conversion could come from exposure to certain christian sects that teach that bodily healing accompanies salvation. Let me tell you that this simply is not true. The people that teach such things are just as sick and dying as any other group of people in the world. They like to quote the verse that says “By His stripes we are healed”. But that verse is clearly talking about healing the broken realtionship between God and man.

      And finally, the Lord forbade the first couple access to the Tree of Life as a judement on their sins. God made salvation impossible EXCEPT through Christ’s redemptive work.

      I hope this helps and you will have the peace of God in your heart and mind.

  3. Heidelberg Kindergeburtstag Says:

    Hey there, You’ve done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it
    and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

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