Can We Know That We Are Saved

Introduction

1 John 5:11-13 (HCSB) And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

A question that many Christians may have is whether or not they can know that they are indeed saved.  How can I know that I am saved?  How can I know that when my physical life is over (i.e., I die) that I will go to heaven?  Personally I think it would be very comforting to know that you are saved and I intend to show you how you can know that.  This is a question that I asked myself in the past though in a slightly different form.

The purpose of this lesson is to answer the subject question.  Can we really know that we are saved?  We are going to examine this question by first determining what God has revealed about it in the Bible.  In other words we are going to search the scriptures to see if it tells us whether or not we can be saved.  We will then analyze the scriptures and conclude God’s revelation about the matter.  It is then for us to accept what the Scriptures tell us and incorporate that revelation into our lives.

Scripture Lesson

Let’s examine Scripture to see what God has revealed to us about being saved.

  • John 1:12-13 (HCSB) {12} But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, {13} who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
  • 1 John 3:14 (HCSB) {14} We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.
  • 1 John 2:3-4 (HCSB) {3} This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. {4} The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
  • John 20:30-31 (HCSB) {30} Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. {31} But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.
  • Titus 3:5 (HCSB) {5} He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 John 5:1 (HCSB) {1} Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent also loves his child.
  • John 3:16 (HCSB) {16} “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
  • Acts 16:31 (HCSB) {31} So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB) {8} For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— {9} not from works, so that no one can boast.
  • Romans 10:9-13 (HCSB) {9} if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. {10} With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. {11} Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, {12} for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. {13} For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Here are a few more relevant Scriptures pertaining to salvation.

  • John 14:6
  • Romans 1:16
  • Romans 6:23
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Matthew 7:21-23 (highlights works and relationship)

The Tests

Are there tests that we can use to determine or give evidence to our salvation? Does the Bible even hint that this is possible? Yes and yes, though I wouldn’t necessarily call them tests, but rather evaluations perhaps. Consider what Paul the Apostle said.

2 Cor. 13:5 (NKJV) 5Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you are disqualified.

This implies that there are “tests” that we can perform to know we are of the faith.  Some other Scriptures to review regarding this matter are listed below.

  • 1 Peter 1:8-9 (haven’t seen Him, but we believe)
  • Romans 8:15-18 (The Holy Spirit Gives assurance)
  • Galatians 5:22-25 (we should bear fruit)
  • 1 John 5:13 (John’s first letter was to show that they were saved)
  • 1 John 5:18 (those who are born of God do not have a lifestyle of sin)
  • 1 John 2:15-17 (those who are with the Father do not love the world)
  • 1 John 3:23-24 (keep his commands to believe in Jesus Christ and to love one another)
  • 1 John 4:7-8 (love)

From the Scripture passages referenced above we find that there are several ways of knowing whether or not you are saved.

  • Do you believe in Jesus Christ?  Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead?  If so then according to Scripture (the word of God) you are saved.
  • Have you confessed what you believe?  You confess things that you believe.  First you believe in Jesus Christ and then you express that belief.
  • Do you love, especially those of the body of Christ?  The Bible declares that love is a way of knowing that you belong to God.  See also 1 John 3:18-19.
  • A person who is saved does not have a lifestyle of sinning (not that we won’t sin – see 1 John 1:8-2:2)
  • Keeps God’s commands to believe in Jesus Christ and to love.

Some of these “tests” may be problematic.  For example, what is meant by love?  What actually is meant by a lifestyle of sin?  What does that look like so to speak?  Therefore, the sure way of knowing that you belong to God, i.e., are saved is by faith.  Ultimately none of the other things matter if you do not have faith.  The concept of love can be twisted, but faith is faith.  Either you truly believe that Jesus died for your sins or you do not.  Let’s talk briefly about faith now.

Faith

The problem that I find that many people face at one point or another (including myself) is that we are looking for physical evidence for our salvation.  We are looking for some tangible proof that we are saved in the same way we can get tangible proof that we are alive for example.  That is not the case with salvation.  This is because salvation revolves around faith.

We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ.  The evidence that we have that we are saved is that of faith.  In other words we believe that what God said is true.  Therefore, the “tangible” evidence that we seek is the word of God.

  • Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
  • Romans 4:1-3 (HCSB) What then can we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? If Abraham was justified by works, then he has something to brag about—but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness.

The proof that we are saved is founded in our faith in Jesus Christ.  If you have faith in Jesus Christ for salvation then God has declared you righteous and therefore saved.  If you are truly saved then a real change has taken place inside of you.  For example we learned from previous scripture passages that the Holy Spirit joins with your spirit and you become a new creation.  You are born again and all things are new.  A real change has taken place.  Believing in Jesus Christ is therefore not a mere mental trip so to speak.  It is something that takes place in the heart and manifests in reconciliation to God.

We can know that we are saved, but many people are looking in the wrong places for the evidence or proof of salvation.  Many people are looking at religious experience and come up lacking in confidence of their salvation.  The evidence of our salvation is the Holy Spirit that was given to us as a down payment so to speak until salvation is fully manifested (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

Again it is by faith we are saved.  If we believe in Jesus Christ then we are saved.  That is what God told us and that should settle it for us.  The most relevant question is, “Do I believe in Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures?”  IF the answer is yes then you are saved.

Illustrations

Here are two illustrations about the state of your salvation.

You die and you go before Jesus and Jesus asks, “Why should you go to heaven?” 

  • You say, “I went to church for you most Sundays, I did missions trips, I worked in VBS, I taught Sunday school, etc.”
  • You say, “I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins so since I am righteous before God I should be allowed to go in.  That’s what was revealed to me in the Bible and by the preachers.”

The person in the second scenario is justified because he truly put his faith in Jesus for salvation.  The person in the first illustration put their faith in their deeds, not Christ.

Here is another illustration

You are in a deep hole that you cannot get out of.  You have tried everything that you could think of with the resources that accompany you, but you cannot get out of the hole.  However, there is someone at the top of the hole shouting down to you, “grab the rope and I will pull you up out of the hole.”

Now there are a number of scenarios that could happen next.

  • You don’t believe that the rope will hold your weight and that you will fall once you get high enough so you don’t grab the rope.  You don’t believe that the person can save you.  You reject the rope and the invitation to be pulled up.
  • You believe that you will be able to get yourself out of the hole given enough time so you don’t need anyone’s help.  You can save yourself.
  • You question the person and come to believe that you can get out of the hole if you grab the rope and let the person pull you.  You grab on and are pulled up.  You get out of the hole, rejoice and thank the person for pulling you out.
  • You get pulled out of the hole after believing the rope would hold you and the person pulling it would really pull you all the way out.  However, once out of the hole you contemplate whether or not you are really out of the hole psychologically or the like and you live your life as if you are still trying to get out of the hole.

Number 1 is an illustration of rejecting the savior and the means to be saved, namely Jesus Christ and faith in Jesus Christ respectively.  Number 2 is religion where you are convinced that you can save yourself by doing good works or whatever your religion demands.  Number 3 is an illustration of a person putting their faith in Jesus Christ and living.  Number 4 is a person who put their faith in Jesus Christ and are indeed saved, but are convinced are not sure if the experience was real and do not live to the fullest in Christ.

Conclusion

Can we know that we are saved?  Yes.  It is by faith that we are saved because of the grace of God.  It is not because we earned it or deserve it.  If we believe in Jesus Christ then we are saved.  Period.  There are some indications of the regenerate life such as love of God, hating the world, loving fellow believers, keeping God’s commands (believe in Jesus and love one another), and evidence of fruits of the Spirit.  However, the way that we know we are saved is by believing in Jesus Christ.
If you believe in Jesus Christ with your heart then you are saved!  Amen.