May 1, 2012
I received an email from a reader in which she asked “How do I know I am saved?”
With her permission I posted her email, thinking it would be helpful for others , and hoping it would stir discussion on this crucial topic.
It has stirred discussion, and today and tomorrow I’ll share my thoughts.
Thank you for your honest and thought-provoking questions.
I am praying that God will use this discussion to bring you into “the greatest blessing [you] can imagine” of complete assurance of salvation (I love how you put that!).
Today I’ll start with how we receive assurance, and tomorrow (Lord willing) I’ll dig into your questions from I John and Matthew 7.
So what’s the basis for assurance? How can we know we have been saved?
To answer this, I have found it helpful to look at —
What we were before God saved us
It’s not pretty.
Before God saved us we knew enough about God to honor him and give thanks — but we all refused (Rom 1:21).
- We refused to worship God (Rom 1:25).
- We had no interest in seeking God (Rom 3:11).
- We were hostile towards God (Rom 8:7).
So before God saved you — your heart-beat towards God was not slow — it was flat-lined. Dead. Nothing.
So — quiz time. Before you were saved —
- How much trust did you have in Jesus? None.
- How much did your heart turn toward God? None.
- How much did you rely on Jesus to satisfy you in Himself? None.
What God did in saving us
When God saves us He gives us a brand new nature — which turns from everything else and trusts Jesus to save, guide, and satisfy us in Himself.
This is a complete change from what we were before — as you can see from these descriptions of what God does when He saves us —
- He removes the heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26).
- He causes dead people to become alive (Eph 2:5).
- He calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1Pet 2:9).
Do you see where this is leading?
How much flesh is in hearts of stone? None. So if you see flesh in your heart — you’ve been saved.
How much life is in dead people? None. So if you see life in your heart — you’ve been saved.
How much light is in darkness? None. So if you see light in your heart — you’ve been saved.
Which raises a crucial question —
What is this flesh, life, and light?
Flesh, light, and life means turning from everything else to trust Jesus Christ to save you, change you, guide you, and satisfy you in Himself.
I get that from passages like Mat 13:44; John 6:35; John 7:37-38; Acts 16:31; 1Cor 16:22; 2Cor 4:6; Phil 3:8; and Col 1:27.
So is your heart turning to Jesus from everything else — trusting Him to save, change, guide, and satisfy you?
If so — then you can be sure that you have been saved.
But what if it’s not?
Yesterday — for a while — my heart was trusting fame more than Jesus Christ.
So does that mean I can no longer be assured of salvation?
Not necessarily — because every saved person has times when they stumble and sin.
But — if I don’t care that I am trusting something else more than Jesus — if I go on in my rebellion without repentance or confession — that’s a different story. I might be genuinely saved — but at that moment I could not have assurance that I am saved.
But if I do care — and turn from fame to Jesus, trusting Him to save me from my sin, change my heart, guide me, and satisfy me — that shows my heart has flesh, life, and light — and I can be fully assured of salvation.
That’s how you can know you have been saved.
But it doesn’t stop there.
There will be many times when — as I turn from everything else to trust Jesus — that God does something special —
- He pours His love into my heart (Rom 5:5).
- He satisfies my heart with His presence (John 6:35).
- He quenches my spiritual thirst with His living water (John 7:37-38).
- He gives me joy in Christ that’s unspeakable and full of glory (1Pe 1:8).
My assurance does not depend on these experiences. But when God gives these — my assurance is strengthened even more.
How about you?
Right now — are you turning from everything else to trust Jesus to save, change, guide, and satisfy you in Himself?
If so — then you can have full assurance of salvation.
If not — you can still have assurance of salvation — by turning to Him right now and trusting Him.
It’s called fighting the fight of faith. Here’s steps I have found helpful —
- Pray and ask Jesus for help (Mark 9:24). (I find it helpful to open my Bible, turn to specific Scriptures, and pray over them.)
- Confess that in yourself you have no righteousness and deserve only judgment (Luke 18:13-14).
- Tell Him you are sorry for your sin — for how you have turned from Him, the Fountain of Living Water — to trust bone-dry cisterns that give no water (Jer 2:12-13). Turn from your sin and set your heart on Jesus.
- Trust Jesus’ death on the Cross to pay for all your sin, and His perfectly righteous life to cover all your sin (Mark 10:45; 1Pet 3:18; 1Thess 5:9-10; Gal 2:20; Rev 1:5).
- Ask for more of the work of the Spirit — to strengthen your faith, make Jesus real to you, fill you with His love, bear witness to you that you are His daughter (Mark 9:24; 2Cor 4:6; Rom 5:5; Rom 8:16).
- Look to Him to change your heart, satisfy you in Himself, strengthen your faith (Heb 4:16). Trust Him to do everything you need done (2Cor 9:8).
- Open your Bible and see Jesus’ glory, compassion, forgiveness, love, justice (Mark 2:1-12; Mark 4:35-41; Mark 9:7; Luke 7:11-17; Isa 53:4-6; Rev 1:17-18; Rev 6:15-16; Rev 5:9-10; Rev 7:9-10). See Him. Trust Him. See Him more. Trust him more.
As you do this — fighting the fight of faith — you can be fully assured that you are saved.
God might even give you a special outpouring of His Spirit.
But even if He doesn’t — you can be fully assured of salvation — because your fight of fight shows there’s flesh, light, and life in your heart.
Let me know what happens — and email your follow-up questions.
I am praying for you.
Questions? Comments? Feedback?
I’d love to hear them — use the comments box below. Thanks.
If you know someone who would be helped by reading this — email it to them using the “share” button below. Or use the buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here. (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications — and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)
And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —
A Spiritual EKG For Your Heart
3 Ways We Can Miss the Point of Salvation
Blaise Pascal's astonishing experience
A Promise for Those Feeling Far from God
How to Resist Temptation
(Picture from everystockphoto by a_kartha.)