| Part 12: Your Salvation Is Assured |
The Assurance – How can I be sure that I’ve been saved?
This is an important point because many who thought that they were saved now realise that they didn’t really “believe in their heart”. God encourages you to examine yourself to see if you are truly “in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5); providing ample instruction for how you can know for sure that you have eternal life. The first epistle of John was written for this purpose:
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” (1 John 5:13)
The below is a series of questions that, as a believer, you can use to examine yourself and your faith. As you consider them, remember that no one perfectly fulfils all of them all the time, but they should highlight a consistent trend in your Christian life as you grow in grace through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
- Do you enjoy having fellowship with Jesus and other Christians? (1 John 1:3)
- Would people say you walk in the light, or walk in the darkness? (1 John 1:6-7)
- Do you admit and confess your sins? (1 John 1:8-10)
- Are you obedient to God's Word? (1 John 2:3-6)
- Does your life indicate you love God rather than the world? (1 John 2:15-17)
- Is your life characterised by righteousness? (1 John 2:29)
- Do you seek to maintain a pure life? (1 John 3:3)
- Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? (1 John 3:4-6)
- Do you demonstrate love for other Christians? (1 John 3:13-17)
- Do you "walk the walk" and not just "talk the talk"? (1 John 3:18-19)
- Do you maintain a clear conscience? (1 John 3:20-21)
If you’re able to truthfully answer "Yes" to these questions – or at least the majority of them, and are working on the others – then your life is bearing the fruit of true salvation.
God depicts salvation as grafting you as a new branch into the vine of Jesus (John 15:1-8). Now in order to remain as a healthy branch, you need to abide in Christ (John 15:4) through obedience to His Word, so that you may continue to draw life from the vine of Jesus.
As you do this you will begin to bear fruit, being evidenced by your good works. Yet fruitless branches – being those who profess to be believers but do not truly “believe in their heart” and therefore display no fruit of the Spirit – are cut off and thrown into the fire (John 15:6), judged as lawless unbelievers (Matthew 7:21-23).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Jesus said that it is by our fruits that we are known as His disciples (Matthew 7:20). A genuine faith is one that not only believes in God (even the demonic spirits do that (James 2:19)), but one that lives obediently to God’s Word.
Remember, we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but our works evidence the reality of our salvation (James 2:17-18), verifying that we truly do “believe in our hearts” and therefore possess a genuine saving faith.
“For as the body without the spirit is [physically] dead, so faith without works is [Spiritually; without salvation] dead also.” (James 2:26)
So you can know that your faith is genuine when you see the fruits of the Sprit develop in your life. As you continue to seek more of God, the Holy Spirit will continue to nurture you so that you may bear more and more fruit.
No one can live a perfectly sinless life (1 John 1:8) but you can know that you are genuinely seeking to be God honouring when any sins that you do commit cause you to feel convicted (but not condemned (John 3:18)). Because this is the Holy Spirit leading you to repentance so that you may receive forgiveness from God (Romans 2:4) and restore your unimpaired connection to Him (1 John 1:9).
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
At the moment you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, God promises you the following:
- Forgiveness of all your sins (Hebrews 10:12-14; 1 John 2:2)
Every sin you have ever committed, regardless of its severity, is now forgiven by God and remembered no more (Hebrews 10:17). In the eyes of God you are washed clean as if you had never sinned, being justified (declared righteous), sanctified (made holy) (1 Corinthians 6:11) and purified even as Jesus Christ is pure (1 John 3:3).
- Salvation from eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46)
When Jesus Christ came into the world as God in human form, He lived a sinless life (1 John 3:5) and was crucified as atonement for the sins (past, present and future) of all people who accept Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). Taking your place, Jesus willingly bore the eternal punishment on your behalf that you rightfully deserved (1 Peter 2:24). Therefore once you accept Him, the penalty for your sins has been paid in full by Jesus and you are no longer liable for punishment.
- Eternal life in Heaven as joint heirs of God with Christ (1 John 2:25; John 3:36; John 3:16)
Not only has Jesus taken the punishment for your sins, but He’s also given you to be adopted as a child of God, being joint heirs with Himself (Ephesians 1:5); (Romans 8:16-17), sharing His very own home of heaven, the abode of God the Father.
“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:6b-7)
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man; the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
- Glorified physical body & mind (Philippians 3:20-21)
You will receive an incorruptible (sinless), imperishable new physical body (Luke 24:36-39), perfect in every way, exactly as Jesus has. This new glorified body is without the requirement of sustenance or the capacity for injury, illness, pain, sadness, stress or even fatigue (1 Corinthians 15:53). You will travel at the speed of thought with no regard of the physical limitations we have here on earth (John 20:26).
- Judgement for all your sins is waived (John 5:24)
You will not appear at the Great White Throne Judgement of God to determine your salvation (Revelation 20:11-15), being judged in the presence of all heaven for every sin you’ve ever committed. Instead you will appear before the judgement seat of Christ.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive [Jesus’ evaluation of] the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether [motivated by] good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Your works are judged (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) in light of your motives and you are rewarded accordingly, determining your status in heaven. There is no condemnation of failures (Romans 8:1) but only praise and reward for rightly motivated obedience to the Word of God.
What if I sin again after I’ve accepted Christ? We don’t lose our sin nature once we receive Christ; the Bible says that sin remains in us and therefore a struggle with the old nature will continue as long as we are in this world (Romans 7:15-25). However God is too pure and holy to look upon sin (Isaiah 59:2), so when you sin you’re impeding the connection between yourself and God.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The more you sin the less God works in your life. All genuine Christians sin occasionally, the difference is that we don’t have a continual practice of habitual sin. The goal is to avoid sin as completely as possible because this is what brings you closer to God. As you grow closer to God, He will progressively reveal more of Himself to you and you will receive increased favour and blessings, both now while you’re on the earth and also in heaven where you’re accumulating treasures.
“Whoever has been born of God does not [habitually] sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot [habitually] sin, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9)
It’s prudent to note here that accepting Christ doesn’t automatically exempt you from the trials and troubles of life (John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12), but rather gives you the strength to endure them with a purpose that leads to the joy of the Lord. We know that:
“the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).
- A Mansion in Heaven (John 14:1-3)
Yes, God chooses to give you your very own indescribably luxurious mansion, far exceeding any luxuries of this world, beautifully adorned perfectly to your individual personal tastes. Be assured that when Jesus decorates, there is no room for error – all will be perfect in every detail. You will recall the opulence of the New Jerusalem, well your mansion is one of its residences and will be similarly adorned.
- Incredible Knowledge and Understanding (1 Corinthians 13:12)
You will know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as completely as they know you. You will have immense knowledge and understand the complexity and uniqueness of many things that are currently beyond us. A myriad of mysteries in life and existence will become open to you.
- Treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)
In addition to the free gift of eternal life in heaven, when we bear fruit by living according to God’s Word we are also storing up treasures in heaven and will be rewarded for our efforts (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Jesus will bring our rewards with Him when He returns (Revelation 22:12), some of which are detailed in the Bible as crowns, being:
- The Everlasting Crown of Victory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Awarded to those who master the old nature, the sinful desires of the flesh. Achieving victory means getting rid of our selfish desires, our bad habits and attitudes, and any other behaviour that puts the Lord to shame. One of the places where the Bible has much to say about what it takes to win this crown is Ephesians 4-6.
- The Crown of the Soul Winner (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; Philippians 4:1)
Awarded to those who actively seek to win lost souls to Christ. We’re judged here by our effort, not our results. Each person bears their own responsibility for his or her choice regarding salvation. This crown is won by those who diligently work to share God’s Word with lost souls, regardless of the final outcome of that soul.
- The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
Awarded to those who long for the Lord’s return. Since our righteousness is derived from our faith, this Crown is not for those whose lives have been the most pure. You can’t get purer than God, whose righteousness has been imputed to us by faith (Romans 3:22). When we long for the Lord’s return we’re demonstrating our belief that He’s coming for us and are absolutely certain that when He does, we’ll be among those He takes.
- The Crown of Life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
Awarded to those who persevere to maintain their fidelity, integrity, virtue and constancy under the trials of life. Recipients will be those who have endured the temptation to sin whether arising from our own internal desires or outward circumstances of adversity, affliction and trouble, which are trials that God permits in your life in order to test the quality of our faith.
- The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Awarded to faithful preachers and teachers who have been called into ministry and diligently taught others the Word of God. Not to those who have done so for personal gain, recognition or praise, but for those motivated only by the desire to glorify God, thereby remaining true to His Word.
- The Everlasting Crown of Victory (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
- Eternal communion with God
As impressive as all of the above are, they pale in comparison to living and communing in the presence of God the Father, His divine Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
“They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:4)
It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to stand in the presence of God Almighty. But to give you some understanding of this, the Bible records many occasions when angels of heaven were sent to deliver a message to men and the glory of their mere presence caused the recipient of the visitation to fall flat on their face, unable to stand. On each occasion the angel first needed to restore their strength before the message could be delivered. Now try to imagine the unfathomable glory, power, magnificence and splendour of the Creator of angels - God himself.
- The guarantee that your new existence with God will never change
God declares that you have “everlasting life” (John 3:36), that no one can “snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28) and that His Word “shall not return to Me void” (Isaiah 55:11). Think about that. 100 billion years from now you will still be in heaven, joyfully glorifying and serving God in the fulfilment of His eternal purpose. Then 100 billion more equally glorious years will pass by and they will continue evermore.
God wants to give you all this as a free gift if you’re just willing to believe in and follow Jesus. Now if you’re thinking that all this is too good to be true, it’s because you’re not appreciating the infinite depth of God’s love for you.
“God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses [sins], made us alive [eternally] together with Christ.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
So God loves you so much that while you were actively sinning against Him, the one true and holy God, He “gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16) for you, knowing that the world “will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him” (Mark 10:34).
Yet even so, God “did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Then Jesus, in an equally incomprehensible act of love, free willingly “gave Himself for our sins” (Galatians 1:4) so that you “should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
In addition to saving you from eternal destruction, God declares that it’s His “good pleasure to give you the kingdom (of heaven)” (Luke 12:32), desiring that you “shall see His face” (Revelation 22:4) when all the saints will receive His promise to eternally dwell with Him in heaven (Revelation 21:3).
Think about this. What depth of love must God have for you to do this? Would you give your only begotten child to be mocked, scourged and painfully crucified in order to save someone who hates and despises you? Someone who grieved your spirit (Ephesians 4:30-32) every day of their lives? The answer is obvious, nobody would. But God did. And that someone He did it for is you.
In the next part we will explain what God wants you to do now that you’ve accepted Christ.