This is a meaningful question for professing believers to be able to answer for themselves. Can we really know if we are saved?
I recently had a great conversation with a friend that claimed you can never know if you are the elect of God until you stand before God in judgment. I disagree with him and did my best to present a biblical case for him to examine.
Since my salvation I’ve never doubted this and I wondered why he was struggling with this and I did not. I spent time going through some scripture, that I believe, points to an obvious conclusion.
“You begin at the wrong end if you first dispute about your election. Prove your conversion, and then never doubt your election”. Joseph Alleine
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
Paul certainly seems confident in his statement and I believe we can also be confident in our assurance. I’ve come up with some items that I believe are crucial to understanding salvation and if we understand true salvation we can have full assurance of our election.
Testimony – do you have a testimony? Can you articulate who you were before God saved you and who you are now? Do you remember clearly when that happened and under what circumstances. Is your life radically different and if it’s not why not? 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.
Scripture – Did God’s word have anything to do with your salvation story? God’s word reveals our sin and the need for a savior. It is the means by which most are saved. Do you have a life verse that is meaningful in your testimony? Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Broken – Were you broken over your sin? Not sorrowful over getting caught or upset over the consequences of your sin but on your face broken that your sin has offended the one true God; knowing that your sin had you headed to hell and eternal separation from God. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance, leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Hunger & Thirst – Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? (Matthew 5:6) If God has redeemed your soul do you now seek after Him more than anything else? (Matthew 6:33) Does He occupy much of your thought life? (Psalm 1:2) Do you desire to read His word and learn more about Him? Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Obedience – Does the sin you once enjoyed now repulse you? Do you only desire to please God and do His will? (Psalm 119:2) John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”
Denial – Do you deny yourself? (Luke 9:23) Do you deny yourself from the movies that cause you to think violently or lustfully? Do you linger too long on a web image that scrolls across that news screen or the girl serving you coffee at Starbuck’s? Do you continue in your same old patterns or do you actually hate your old life? John 12:25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Fellowship – Do you love the fellowship of other believers; do you spend time with them and minister to them? (Hebrews 6:10) Are you committed to a local assembly and are you a member of that assembly? Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Authority – Are you under church authority and the guidance of a pastor and elders? Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who ruler over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Preach the word –Do you preach the word and share the gospel of salvation with other people; if not why not? I would argue your either ignorant of God’s word, a self preservationist or not saved. See my article called Ashamed of the Gospel from August 31. It comes down to that ugly self denial again. Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
I’ve only scratched the surface of scripture that I believe supports my statement and I’ve not included all I could say about a true believer. We know the warnings in scripture are clear. We know many think they are right with God and they are not. The Lord himself teaches us this horrible truth in Matthew 7:21-23.
So how do you know for sure? If you don’t know for sure I ask you today to examine yourself and see if you are in the faith? Seek counsel from a faithful bible believing pastor or elder. Don’t be put off by challenges to your faith but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Only then will you prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) I certainly hope my friend will stay in the struggle.
Lastly here are some verses that give assurance of salvation.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-16, 1 John 2:3, 1 John 4:13
I also strongly recommend “A Sure Guide to Heaven” by Joseph Alleine. It’s a free download and worth your time. http://www.redemptivehistory.org/sureguide.pdf