How to Know you are Saved?
When Christians speak of being saved the question arises, “Saved from what?” The Bible makes the case throughout its pages that we humans are spiritually fallen, broken, or sinful and thus are in need of being saved from the devastating result of our fallen nature. It is clear that we cannot save ourselves through any religious effort but must turn to God and receive His answer to the sin question.
Paul puts into words what every person must come to grips with — we are sinners in need of spiritual healing: “. . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We all know this intuitively but most people just ignore the fact that sin (rebellion against God) is rampant in the human race. The history of the human race proves this beyond any doubt.
The apostle Paul shares this self-evident truth: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). There you have it! Paul is putting into words what we all know intuitively and what the Bible clearly teaches. Sin began in Garden of Eden through the disobedience of the first human pair and has spread into the hearts of every person who has ever lived except for Christ, of course.
Of course religion rejects this truth. When I use the word “religion” I am referring to all of humanity’s attempts to explain why we the human race is in such a mess. I was raised in the religion called Jehovah’s Witnesses and I was taught that I could earn God’s favor simply by participating in a program of works that benefitted the religious organization but never gave me any confidence that I was in right relationship with God or putting it another way that I was saved from this mess we know as sin.
Buddhists simply reject the truth that there is a personal God and that what we know as sin is caused by suffering brought on by our fears. In fact, they believe that our belief in a personal God comes from our fears and that we simply need to follow a certain path prescribed in the teachings of Buddha to reach a state of enlightenment known as nirvana. In other words, we do the saving ourselves through diligent hard work and meditation.
Muslims simply reject the notion that we are born in sin but have the doctrine of fitrah which holds that humans are essentially good and simply need the guidance which Islam provides through its teachings. They reject the truth that Paul expressed when he wrote, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
I could go on with other religions but I think you get the point — intuitively, we all know that we are in a moral mess and manmade religion will only give us false ways to try to solve the problem. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit He would send will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Everyone knows that they are in rebellion against God because the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts of that reality. This word translated “convicts” could be translated “convinces.” The Holy Spirt convinces us of our sinful nature. We may reject what He plainly reveals to us but every human being is convinced by the Holy Spirit of His rebellion against God and the sinful, moral condition of their hearts. Religion simply provides a way for us to avoid the obvious and enter into a path that enables us to avoid God and save ourselves through religious works or atheistic rebellion. God provides the only way that we can be redeemed from sin and its effects.
God, unlike religious folks, is not playing games with us. He says it like it is in a way so simple that anyone can see it. It is man’s troublesome tendency to complicate matters that gets in the way. There are many passages that tell us how to get saved. Here are a few that are crystal clear:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2:8–10).
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom. 10:9).
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).
One of my favorite passages on this subject of salvation is John 17:3: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” This is Jesus praying in the upper room hours before He would be arrested and eventually crucified. In simple terms He was telling us how to possess eternal life. The way is simple. We must know the Father and His Son, the Christ, whom He has sent for the very purpose of redeeming us from the devastation of sin.
There is no mystery here. Knowing someone is simply a matter of being introduced to them and then growing in our relationship with them. This is not a religious ceremony that requires a priest and some holy water and other smoke and mirrors. This is between you and the Creator of the universe. He wants to know you and tells you that the answer is to knock at His door and He will answer it (Matt. 7:7). You don’t have to be in a church service where you close your eyes and lift your hand or even walk forward to an altar. God is here and He makes Himself available. Introduce yourself to Him in your own words and let Him introduce Himself to you. It’s that simple.
Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that when you know Him you get to live your life as you please. No, He’s not going to lay a bunch of laws and rituals on you but He is going to give you His Holy Spirit who will enable you to live a life empowered by Him. This new life is not only an individual life but is corporate (communal) in nature. This is because God has an eternal purpose that is fulfilled in His living expression of love on earth — the body of Christ, the church. Paul wrote that His body, His ekklesia, is the fullness of God (Eph. 1:23). We are the temple of God on earth (1 Cor. 3:16), a holy priesthood serving in the house of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:5), the very place that God is manifested on earth for all seekers to find.
So, if you believe you are saved but have no inner desire to be with others who know Christ, something is not right. Either you are not truly saved or you have been deceived by the spirit of the age which rejects God’s eternal purpose. Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love God and to love the others who love Him (Mark 12:30, 31).
I am not talking about the concept of “going to church” but rather your genuine response to loving God and loving others He has called into His eternal purpose. John told us that if we say we love God but hate His children we are liars because loving God is reflected in loving others. Today, going to church means showing up occasionally to passively observe a prepared program at a nearby church institution. If you are truly a saved follower of Christ, you will hunger for genuine fellowship with others who love Him as well and you will seek it until you find it. The early church devoted themselves to “the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Fellowship is koinonia, sharing what we possess in Christ. Sharing requires that we are part of an organic body of believers with whom we can share.
In His last earthly prayer Jesus entreated the Father asking for His disciples “. . . that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John17:21). The previous verse makes it clear that He was praying for the body of Christ throughout this age we are in (v. 20). Oneness only comes through fellowship where we rub shoulders with others, share our hearts, hold each other accountable to our Lord, thrive in forgiveness, speak truth in love and grow together in His love. If you are truly saved you must search until you find such fellowship and commit to it in Christ (Rom. 12:1, 9f.). Otherwise, you’re just a lone religious person wandering without purpose.
Paul told us “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10). When you get to know Him you are reconciled which means you are now friends with God and in fellowship with Him but He then wants to save you from the effects of sin and the world system. Knowing Him, you are destined for heaven but He provides you with His life through the Holy Spirit. He will guide you and empower you to live a life in agreement with His will.
In Christ we are a new creation where our old ways pass away and a new life is given to us (2 Cor. 5:17). You are new in your spirit because He comes to dwell there and He will begin to transform your soul (your mind, emotions, will, your personality) and you will gradually become more like Him. (2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 1:27; Eph. 3:16f). If you are not experiencing this gradual spiritual change you need to examine yourself to see if you truly are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
I have written this message because I have noticed a gradual but very real apostasy taking place in the body of Christ. The world’s lying message is being embraced by many and the simple message of eternal life is being rejected. Many, in their frustration, have abandoned fellowship with others and eventually with Christ Himself.
My ministry in Christ is not to build something impressive in the eyes of others but to be a voice calling people out of the failing world system that will be judged sooner than we think. Seek God. If you seek Him, you will find Him and He will make Himself available to you through His Spirit. He will lead you to simple, real ways to love Him and His people so that you can be anchored in His body which expresses His eternal purpose. The world calls you away from Christ and His people. Don’t go there. That way leads to death. Find the pathway that leads to life.