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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

My Response to: “How Do I Know I Am Saved?” (Part One)

How do I know I am saved?

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.

Dear Reader,

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.

Special outpourings

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.

Pastor Steve

Questions?  Comments?  Feedback?

I’d love to hear them — use the comments box below.  Thanks.

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Category: Being Forgiven by God, Stories about Other People, Strengthening Your Faith


11 Responses

  1. Rachelle says:

    My heart goes out to this reader because I went through this very issue for most of my Christian life. One thing that is interesting to note is that I never had these fears UNTIL I started to follow Christ. I believe that is a big indicator that Satan is the father of these fears. By God’s grace I am now living with the assurance I have so long desired – based not on my feelings, but based on His faithfulness to His promises.
    Anyway, I don’t have time right now to write everything that I want to say, but I did want to let you, Steve, and the reader know that if she would like someone to talk to about this – someone who has gone through some of the same experiences, I am happy to do talk with her.
    At one point I actually started having anxiety attacks because of this issue – the hopelessness that I felt consumed me. I believe God allowed me to go through that for a reason. I have no idea why yet, but I know that He is good and uses everything for my good. So if my experiences can be an encouragement to you, Dear Reader, then please feel free to call or email me.
    Steve knows my contact info.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks so much for sharing your story, Rachelle — and offering your support and wisdom. Means a lot. I will pass on your offer to The Reader.

    • Kimberly says:

      I don’t know if you will see this but me too, I have assurance problems too.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Steve: I appreciate how you shift the focus of the question in your answer.

    I suggest “languaging” the question itself differently. The NT writers employ a plethora of metaphors to talk about the effects of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection . . . not just salvation: justification, redemption, transformation, etc. We tend to use the words “salvation” or “saved” as if they represent the entire “package” of all the effects that come from Jesus. In using the “saved” generalization, we lose sight of the lively local details offered in the good news.
    So I want to encourage dialogue that not only asks “how do I know that I am saved?” . . . but:

    How do I know that I am justified (Gal 2:15-21)?

    How do I know that I am redeemed (1 Cor 1:30; 6:20; 7:23)?

    How do I know that I am being transformed (2 Cor 3:18-4:6; Rom 12:2)?

    How do I know that I am cleansed or expiated (1 Cor 6:11; Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 7:1)?

    How do I know that I am being glorified (Rom 8:17, 30; 2 Cor 3:18-4:6)?

    How do I know that I am partaking in the new creation (Gal 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17)?

    How do I know that I am an adopted child of God (Rom 8:14-16)?

    How do I know that I am free and liberated (Room 6:18-22; 8:2; Gal 5:13)?

    How do I know that I am set apart and sanctified (1 Cor 1:30; 1 Thes 4:7)?

    How do I know that I am walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:13-25)?

    How do I know that I am reconciled to God and others (Rom 5:10-11; 2 Cor 5:18-20; Rom 11:15)?
    These questions represent a wonderful buffet of positive effects in which we partake . .. better than Oprah’s favorite things. These are Paul’s favorite things — and much more lasting and worth jumping up and down about. I feel that the salvation question is too much based on fear instead of hope and trust in Jesus and his effects.



    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good to meet you, Matt. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      I love your picture of “a wonderful buffet of positive effects — worth jumping up and down about.” YES.

      Thank you for enlarging our picture of God’s infinitely precious gift of salvation.


  3. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    Re the published/posted email of the female reader

    Admittedly, it took me a while until I felt able to write respecting this special issue. I have been following the debate and a lot of thoughts crossed my mind.

    At first I’ve put myself in the reader’s position feeling so much empathy and her desperate insecurity about assurance resp. saving faith. Although I was reminded of different Scriptures, I was not able to verbalize any reply that would have made some sense for me; I suppose it wouldn’t have helped at all. I remember sitting in front of my computer and starting to pray for her. That was all I could do – and what I am still doing – knowing that God will help her at the proper time.

    As for me, I know about the experience to feel somehow “beaten” by certain Scriptures which show me the difference between how I should be and how I am now. Even when it turns painful and embarrassing to feel God’s sword of the Spirit, i.e. His Word, I think that God only convicts me to draw me closer to Jesus in order to strengthen my relationship with Him. There is none of my doubts, no fear, and no possibly mistaken Scripture that could cause Jesus to leave me alone.

    Nevertheless, my spiritual life consists of countless ‘fights of faith’. In the midst of them I really see NOTHING. No way out but almost only doubt. This doesn’t sound encouraging at first sight. However, it’s not my feelings that show me the way out, but faith alone which is able to trust Jesus without seeing ANYTHING. God doesn’t need my faith being one to remove mountains, for He is the founder and perfecter of faith Himself (Heb 12:2). This is even true when I suddenly notice that there are still areas in my life where my faith is infinitesimally little. Since God knows about my spiritual deficiencies, I prefer throwing myself onto the following of His Promises,

    “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” (Isaiah 42:3, Mt 12:20)

    I suppose that everybody who entered the narrow gate and is walking on the hard way to life will increasingly experience suffering and dark times, for following Jesus also means cross-bearing, which is dying to self. Day by day. This is not easy! However, I don’t want to finish my comment in the midst of struggle and darkness. For after the night we will see the day dawning with new hope, with stronger faith than before, and we will be gifted with more and more experiences of His divine unspeakable joy and love.

    By the way, I’m a bit suspicious about the possibility to have a kind of absolute assurance concerning my faith as long as I have not yet reached my goal to be completely “one with God” in the Spirit. As long as I look to myself, my faith will waver again and again. And only when I am weak, not knowing what to do, and how to change my situation, only then – I look to Jesus and ask Him for help. It looks as if He ‘needs’ my weakness(es) to show His might and power. Yet I believe there will be a “perfected, fully assured faith” (cf. Heb 10:22) when I will be likewise perfected in love, namely when my self is completely dead, so that Christ alone will live in me (Gal 2:20).

    God bless you, Steve (love your response to her!) and…

    Every blessing to you, the female reader of this blog whom I don’t know indeed, but who is my sister in Christ – this I know for sure.

    In Christ’s Love,

    @ Rachelle

    Your reply is wonderful! There’s nothing better than having gone through own experiences, so that we can offer our caring help for others. I guess we couldn’t sustain anybody whom we don’t understand (and love, of course).

    Best regards and blessings,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      You have shared much wisdom here, Susanne, which I think will benefit all who read.

      And thank you for praying for The Reader — surely that’s the most important step any of us can take for her.

  4. Mickey says:

    I have question,
    what exactly do you mean by “God might even give you a special outpouring of His Spirit.?”
    What exactly would this mean?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good question, Mickey. Thanks for asking.

      I believe that when we turn from all else and trust Jesus to forgive, change, guide, and satisfy us in Himself — He will often give us an experience of His love (Rom 5:5), a heart-sense of His glory (2Cor 4:6), a heart-thirst-quenching drink of His very presence (John 7:37-38).

      He doesn’t always do this (Psa 13; Psa 42). And our assurance doesn’t depend on this. But He often does — and when He does it lifts our assurance even more.

      I hope that’s clear. Let me know if you have any more questions about that.

      And thanks for stopping by.


  5. Bill Schuler says:

    I look forward to celebrating with all of you in heaven! 🙂

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Sounds good, Bill. And He will wipe every tear from our eyes. And there will be no more death, no more mourning, or crying, or pain. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

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