How do you know if you’re saved?
If you're a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit will start making changes in your life.
By K. Erik Thoennes from Biola University / Talbot School of Theology
My favorite question to ask Christians is how they came to trust in Christ.
The answers I've heard testify to the diverse experiences God uses to bring people into a relationship with himself. Most commonly, people say they trusted him as a child at camp or at Sunday school or while praying with a parent. They often follow with something like, "But my faith really became my own when I was a junior in high school."
How are we to understand this variety of experiences and the apparent two-stage process many seem to undergo in arriving at saving faith?
What it means to be saved
When the Bible uses the word 'salvation' in a spiritual sense, it describes the broad range of God's activity in rescuing people from sin and restoring them to a right relationship with himself.
Salvation in the Bible has past, present, and future tenses:
- A believer has been saved from the guilt of sin (justification, see Eph. 2:8)
- A believer is being saved from the power of sin (sanctification, see 1 Cor. 1:18)
- A believer will be saved from the judgment and presence of sin (glorification, see Acts 15:11).
When are you saved?
From God's perspective, there is a definitive point in time when those who have trusted in Christ pass from death into life (1 John 3:14).
Whether or not you can remember the moment of spiritual rebirth, it is a miracle that initiates a number of new realities.
- Through the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, you are made alive in Christ (Titus 3:5)
- You can cease striving to be justified, resting instead in the finished work of Christ (Phil. 2:8-9). As Paul writes, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
- You have "crossed over from death to life" (John 5:24), which means you can "have confidence on the day of judgment" (1 John 4:17).
How do you know you're saved?
For those who question their salvation, the best evidence is not the memory of having raised a hand or prayed a prayer.
Nor is it having been baptized or christened.
The true test of the authentic work of God is that you have an ongoing dependence on the finished work of Christ as your only hope before God.
This will show up in in your life as growth in Christ-like character, increased love for God and other people, and the development of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25; James 2:18).
A memorable conversion experience may serve as an important reminder of God's saving work in one's life. And salvation begins by saying yes to Jesus.
But the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in making a person more like Jesus is the clearest indicator that one has been made a new creation in Christ.
If you're struggling to see the signs of God's work in your life, then don't despair! It's not how much faith you have that saves you, but who your faith is in. Turn to Jesus and ask for his Spirit to shape you and change you to be more and more like him each day.
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