How do you know if you are saved? I mean how do you truly know that you have been forgiven of your sins and have eternal life? Over and over in scripture, the Lord tells us that just two things are required for eternal life. To believe that Jesus Christ died, has risen, and is now ruling as Lord of all in Heaven, and to turn and repent from our former sinful ways.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15.
John 3:16 says it this way…..
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that who so ever would believe in Him would not Perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:16.
At a quick glance in viewing these verses, it would seem that if we say that we believe in Jesus, and try not to be a bad person, that we’re in! You may think that professing belief in Jesus is not hard. Some believe its as easy as saying, “I believe in Jesus.” But if salvation is that simple, then why would Jesus say to his disciples that more people will actually go to Hell and few will enter the kingdom of Heaven?
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”Matthew 7:13-14.
In the above verse, Jesus repeated talks about entering through a narrow gate or door. He says in Matthew 7 that the narrow, small gate is the one that will lead to life. He also mentions a broad and wide gate that is much easier to go through, but it will lead to destruction.
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” Luke 13:22.
Jesus stresses in Luke that we should be making every effort to seek that narrow gate that leads to life. Because many will try to enter this gate, and will not be able to do so. But more specifically, what is this ‘gate’ that Jesus keeps mentioning. If we are to seek this narrow gate, then we must know what the gate actually is. Jesus answers this question for us in the book of John.
Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:9.
So we can safely conclude that Jesus Christ is this narrow gate. And according to the passage in Luke, many will seek Jesus, but will not be able to enter. (Luke 13:22). But how could this be? Is it possible to claim to be a follower of Jesus, yet not actually be one of His, and instead be walking on that broad road of destruction? What does it look like to be one of these people who will seek Christ, but never find him? The Lord describes these people who will claim to know Christ, but never find him in Revelation.
“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16.
These people are not on fire for God, yet they would claim to believe in Him. He goes on in the verse to describe them as being wretched, poor, pitiful, and blind. Another conclusion we can ascertain from this verse is that if we are not living passionately for God and instead living a lukewarm Christianity, then our salvation may be in question. Another example of who these people are who will seek Christ, but not find him is found in Matthew 7:21-24.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-24.
Not everyone who will say that they are a follower of Jesus will enter the kingdom of Heaven. These are the people who would hang their salvation on saying they believe in Jesus, but do not live their earthly lives for him. Rather, they put worldly things above Christ such as ungodly entertainment, self vanity, and trying to act more like Hollywood and their lost friends instead of Christ. Yet they will say they are Christians. They will justify not being on fire for God and defend their right to watching or listening to ungodly movies and music, as well as living a life where they make Jesus just a ‘Sunday morning thing in their lives. They will say, “Well other Christians are doing these things and they love God.” Proverbs 14:12 says this…..
“There is a way that seems right to man, that in the end, leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12.
Just because others who call themselves Christians are doing certain things doesn’t mean that God approves. What does God say? Those who are on the path to the narrow Gate seek to know what the Lord says in every aspect of their lives, regardless of what may seem popular at the time. There are ways that seem right and normal to man, that is evil in the sight of God.
Above in Matthew 7:21, the verse said that only those who did the will of God the father would enter the kingdom of Heaven. So to make sure we are walking that narrow road, we must make sure we know the will of God. We must seek out in scripture to find God’s will for our lives. Jesus often spoke of doing the will of His father in obedience. There are an abundance of verses in the Bible speaking of Gods will. And each one of them is centered around loving him wholeheartedly, and being obedient to living for him and following his commands.
“We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for Godis truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:3-6.
We can know we are in Christ with confidence if we are walking as Jesus did through life. This makes our studies in scripture very important. The old “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets were a great reminder. To be in God’s will, we should seek to know God’s opinion of everything we do in life.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31.
What would be the priorities of Christ if he were among us. For starters, Id say he would be passionate about church! And he wouldn’t be satisfied with just coming twice a week and helping out with church fundraisers. Jesus would be about the mission of his Heavenly Father! He would be concern and burdened with seeking daily those who were lost and proclaiming the good news of salvation in Himself to them! This would be top priority.
Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you keep my commands.”
He also says in Luke 6:46…….
“Why do you call me Lord, yet not do as I say?” Luke 6:46.
However, there is still one question that remains unanswered. If we say we believe in Jesus, how can we be sure that we have salvation. We’ve determined that those who will find the narrow gate and truly inherit eternal life are few, and those who will seek and not find are many. So how can we be sure that we are following that narrow path to Christ?
The key word is “believe”. To believe in something is more than to just give a mental nod towards or to simple say we believe in something. My kids can tell me that they believe me when I tell them, “If you don’t pick up the toys in your room, someone will trip, fall, and get hurt.” And they will say they know this. But if they don’t pick up those toys, they really don’t believe that they will trip and fall. Not until it happens. But then its too late. I warned them of what could happen, but they chose to acknowledge my commands with their lips and not their actions.
Isaiah 29:13, the Lord says, ““Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men.”
So much truth is in that scripture. So many professing so called Christians will honor Jesus with lip service and claim to believe in him, yet they live their lives with more of a love for this world. They love the music of this world. They love the entertainment of this world. They idolize the celebrities of this world. They hunger for self glorification. Yet they claim to be Christian because they go to a church or have been baptized. And the Isaiah verse points out that their only fear or knowledge of God comes from man.
“My buddy gets drunk and he’s a Christian so it must be ok.”
“A deacon in my church cusses and says he loves Jesus so I can too.”
“My Sunday School teacher watches rated R movies and Jesus knows its just entertainment.”
All real to life examples I have heard from people who claim to know Christ. Sadly, these are the same people that the scriptures repeatedly warn us against patterning our lives after. Because they are the ones that claim to be seeking Christ, but will never really know him. They really don’t want to know him, because truly knowing Jesus requires us to take our fleshly wants and desires and replace them with the desires of Christ.
If I truly believe something, then action follows. If someone told me a terrible tornado was headed towards my home, and I told them I believed them but went home and ignored their warnings, then I really didn’t believe I was in danger. Not until my home was ravaged by the storm. But then it would be too late. How do you know that you are a true believer in Jesus?
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” 1 John 2:3.
If we truly believe the gospel, then we know for sure that those who keep his commands and seek to live their lives His glory in all that they do will have eternal life. We also know that if we claim to love him but do not obey him, then the truth is not in us, and we are not in Christ.
“Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” 1 John 2:4.
This is not to say that we are to be spotless and sinless, because we all fall short due to our depravity. But sinning for a believer is much like how an infant grows to be an adult. Before submitting your life to Christ, you were totally lost in your sins and could not walk in the ways of righteousness. Much the same as an infant cannot stand on his own. But in the beginning stages of your walk with Christ, you begin to try to walk in righteousness.
Like a baby attempting to walk, you stumble and fall along the way, but the more you walk with you earthly fathers help, your stumbles become less and less. In the same vein, the closer we walk with God, the less we’ll stumble into sin. Pretty soon a baby grows into an adult who is walking way more than falling. And when that adult does happen to trip and fall, he is embarrassed and ashamed of his stumble. He takes a look at the which made him fall, and vows to avoid the obstacle at all costs. As a Christian matures, they want to walk as Christ and are shamed by sin. And if they do stumble, the true believer learns from the mistake and repents, which is to completely turn from it and avoid it at all costs.
Can you imagine a person who would make a practice of falling down over and over? Of course not! If you were at the mall and saw a person deliberately making themselves fall on their face over and over, you would think they were crazy. No one deliberately tries to fall because people know how foolish it makes them look. Adults want to walk upright and don’t want to stumble. In the same manner, a mature believer in Christ wants to walk in righteousness and seeks to avoid sinning at all costs.
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”1 John 3:9.
No one that truly knows Jesus and has salvation makes a practice of sinning. They don’t do the same thing over and over knowing that it is breaking Gods commands. Rather, they seek to follow his commands. They even seek them out to make sure they are in Him. If we can walk deliberately into sinning knowing that it is wrong and with full knowledge that we are breaking Gods commands, then we prove that we mock the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross for our sins, and we do not know him.
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26-27.
This text is so terrifying to the professing believer that would say they are a Christian but thinks of Jesus as more of a concept rather than the living Lord of all! The verse states that a life of deliberately sinning while claiming to know Christ proves them a liar, and it goes on to say that the sacrifice Christ paid on the cross for sin no longer applies to them. But look in verse 27 what the verse says will apply, “a fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
God warns us that if we live a life ignoring his commands and choosing to follow our own sinful way then the blood of Christ does not cover us, and the wrath of God is all the remains in our future. If we truly believe in Jesus, we know this to be true with all of our hearts. Living a lifestyle of habitual sin is impossible for the true believer, because the true believer has the fear of the Lord in him. If we say we know Christ yet live in a constant state of sin, our actions betray our lips proving we truly do not believe.
But here is the really great thing about truly following after Jesus. The more you chase after his righteousness, the more you want to be like Jesus, and the more you begin to despise the very sins you once loved. You begin to take on the heart of Christ. Your desires begin to change as well as your passions. You begin to literally become a new creation as your old sinful desires fall away and you strive to live as Christ.
“If anyone be in Christ, he has become a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come. “2 Corinthians 5:17.
In Christ, you begin to see the world around through an eternal mindset. You begin to view people differently. Not as just flesh and bones, but as souls. It begins to burden you when you see those traveling the broad road to eternal destruction. You see walking in righteousness is not always easy, but for a believer who genuinely yearns to be like Jesus, it is never burdensome. That’s why when a believer does stumble in sin it grieves his or her heart greatly.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3.
Just as a child who wants to be like his earthly father would grow frustrated at falling short of dad’s expectations, such is the same for Christians following their Heavenly father. It’s not a burden to follow his commands, because our greatest goal in life is to bring glory to God and walk closer in His ways. And the closer we walk to Jesus, the more we become conformed to his image through our everyday lives.
“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29.
This process of beginning to desire to live more as Christ and avoid sin is called sanctification. A true follower of Jesus will continue to grow in his or her sanctification throughout their life.
1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”
So what is the test to know that you are a believer in Jesus? It’s not pointing back to a date of baptism and it’s not found in church attendance. Here is what the apostle Paul told the church in Corinth regarding this very question.
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Are you growing in your need for repentance, daily seeking to rid yourself more of the things that are offensive to Christ? Are you growing constantly in your sanctification as you begin to walk more in His ways? Examine yourself! Look at the shows and movies you watch. Do they make light of the things that break God’s heart and contain things such as profanity, sensuality, or glorified evil? Examine the music you listen to by those same standards! Look at the things you like to do and the people you like to do them with! Is your life glorifying to God, or is it more of a rebellion against his commands?
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6.
The true mark of a Christian is that he or she will continue growing in sanctification and maturity in Christ all the days of their lives. Yes, we will go through ups and downs in our walks with Christ, but those in Him He will carry that good work that he began in them on to the very day of completion. A true believer cannot fall away from Christ. I hope this has drawn a clearer picture of the salvation process of a true believer. May you grow in your faith and always trust in the sovereignty of God’s perfect plan for your life. God Bless.