"How can I know if I am saved?"
There is perhaps no more important question.
Ultimately, the only opinion that truly matters is GOD's, for He is our Creator, Sustainer and Judge. So we shall look to Him for answers.
Here are three simple, yet weighty questions a person should ask themselves when trying to determine whether they are presently "saved."
Question #1: Do I truly know Jesus?
Many people—perhaps even a majority of people—know of Jesus, but there is a vast difference in knowing who Jesus is and knowing Jesus personally.
GOD's will for you, me and every human who breathes upon the earth is to know Jesus and to experience Him personally—to have a relationship with Him.
The Scriptures plainly state that Jesus is the only way to GOD (see John 14:6) and that He came to seek and save the lost (see Luke 19:10).
Jesus is the answer to all of life's problems, including yours.
He invites you to come to Him in faith:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matt. 10:28-30 NIV)
If you don't currently know Jesus, take up your Bible (or click here) and begin reading in John 1.
Read John's gospel and continue through the book of Acts.
Question #2: Have I fully obeyed what Jesus said to do?
When a person hears the gospel—the good news about Jesus, they are faced with a choice:
- obey, or ...
This is where one's faith is tested and displayed for all the world to see.
The popular teaching today is sometimes referred to as "easy believism."
The false gospel of easy believism proclaims that the very moment one acknowledges Jesus as the Son of GOD and prays for Jesus to forgive their sins, they are instantly spiritually reborn, forgiven of their sins, saved from damnation in hell.
Many go yet another giant leap further and teach that from the moment they invite Jesus into their hearts, there is nothing this infant "believer" can do to be "lost" from this point forward, regardless of how righteously or evil they may live.
But when we read the Scriptures, we don't see Jesus teaching easy believism.
We don't read of the early Christians practicing easy believism or the apostles adopting a laid-back, anything-goes-because-we're-Christians-now attitude to life.
Quite the opposite is true.
The truth is that Jesus demands our entire devotion. Jesus said that the greatest commandment of the Law of Moses had been to:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
(Matt. 22:37b NIV)
In another occasion, Jesus said regarding being His disciple:
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:62b NIV)
Decades later, in Jesus' Revelation to the apostle John, Jesus rebuked the Christians in Laodicea for their lack of zeal in following Him:
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
(Rev. 3:14-20 NIV)
And we could cite so many more examples.
The reality is that GOD has never and will never accept half-hearted devotion or lip service.
It is crucial that we recognize that Jesus didn't simply come to forgive our sins, but also to change our character so that we look like Him, for the betterment of ourselves, our families and the entire world.
So, with those misconceptions out of the way, Jesus has given instructions—both personally and through His apostles—which we must follow in order to please Him and gain access to His saving blood.
I've listed these Scriptures in more detail here.
Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the apostles:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matt. 28:18b-20 NIV)
The apostles obeyed Jesus' final instruction, going everywhere preaching the good news of the Savior, baptizing new believers and teaching them to obey all that Jesus had commanded.
And righteous men in every generation since have continued submitting to Jesus' commands and faithfully teaching them to others also.
Question #3: Am I actively walking with Jesus?
If you know Jesus and you've obeyed what He said to do to receive salvation initially, the final question we must ask ourselves is whether we're actively walking with Him.
Paul expressed it to the Christians in Rome this way:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
(Rom. 8:1-2 NKJV)
In other words, what Paul is saying is that if I am in Jesus (see Gal. 3:27) and I am living as He would have me, then I have no need to fear condemnation because Jesus has set me free.
What a beautiful promise from GOD!
But, how do I know if I am walking "according to the Spirit?"
A person learns how to walk according to the Spirit by reading the Scriptures to learn what behaviors GOD considers righteous versus sinful, and by examining the actions of Jesus and imitating Him to the best of our ability.
When we realize we've sinned by failing to live as GOD wants, we should confess that sin to GOD in prayer, asking for forgiveness.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
(1 John 1:9 NIV)
Not perfection, but a godly attitude
One final point: In case it isn't obvious, walking according to the Spirit does not equate to sinless perfection.
It means that our manner of living is characterized by Spirit-led choices rather than fulfilling our fleshly desires.
Everyone makes mistakes, even the most faithful of Christians, and GOD knows and has made provisions for this.
So, how did you answer the three questions?
If you couldn't confidently answer yes to one or more, then hopefully you know what to do next.
If you can confidently and honestly answer yes to all three questions, then this should give you hope and confidence in your salvation.
Study and pray. GOD will always lead the good and honest heart to find Him, for that is His will for you—to know Him and His Son Jesus Christ.