I actually didn't wish to write this post. It scares me to address such an important topic for fear I will not do it justice. The last thing I want is for anyone to become worried or fearful as to whether they are saved or not. But God will have His way, and He kept pressing this upon me. Perhaps because time is so short and finding salvation in Jesus Christ is the most important thing anyone can do in this world.
I suppose this post is mainly for the people I consider to be Lukewarm Christians or perhaps people who think they are saved when they are not. In truth, I believe it is to these people that my ministry has been called.
First of all, what is salvation? Sometimes we use these terms so flippantly in Christianity that they lose their true meaning. Being "saved" means that a person
- Believes Jesus is the Son of the one true God, the Creator of all things, that He came to earth in human form, died for us sinners, and then rose again on the third day
- Accepts the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for their sins
- Receives that sacrifice to atone for their sins, to pay the penalty for them
- Repents of all their sins
- Puts all their trust in Jesus
- Make Jesus the Lord of their life
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:9
The problem with modern Christianity is that people will answer an altar call in a moment of emotion or fear, repeat a prayer for salvation by the pastor, and then go about their merry way thinking they are saved.
In truth, God could care less what you believe in your mind. The word believe in the verse above is the Greek Word pisteuō It means to "put your trust in" and "to commit to". It's not a belief of your mind but of your heart, the real you... your spirit and soul.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:19
So we see first off that salvation is not a matter of what you believe in your mind, but it is something much deeper.. it is a heart belief that expresses itself in complete trust in Jesus and completely committing your life to Him. This can only happen if God performs it. The Holy Spirit must enter the human heart (not the organ, but the spirit) and bring it to life. You must be born again.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3
This will not happen if a person is just causally saying a prayer of head belief but not truly seeking God with all their heart. This is why I believe our churches are at least 50% full of what I call False-converts.
Another thing that must happen and that is rarely talked about in "salvation" messages is repentance. You cannot be saved without true repentance.
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32
Repentance doesn't just mean saying you're sorry. Repentance means that you do a 180 away from your old ways, your old life of sin, and you start down a new path. In other words, if you repent of a sin but then go out the next day and do it again on purpose, you didn't truly repent. Repentance is a change of lifestyle!
So in order to be saved, a person must want to know God, want to know the truth with all their heart. When that happens, the Holy Spirit quickens their spirit and they become instantly aware of their sin and how wretched they are. This causes deep shame and sorrow and then repentance as they cry out to God to forgive them and save them. At that point they ask Jesus to save them and confess their belief in Him and they hand over the control of their life from that point on to Him. The Holy Spirit is working through this entire process and at the end, the person knows something has changed. It may not be a huge emotional experience... but they know something is different.
This very thing happened to my atheist husband when, at the end of his rope, he cried out to God "Are you real?" He sought the truth with all his heart. And the Holy Spirit took over. The first thing He did was show my husband all his sin and how wrong he was and how badly he had acted. Repentance must come before salvation! Once he repented, Jesus revealed Himself to my husband in a variety of ways and He finally confessed his belief and received the atonement for his sins. The final step was to hand over his life to the Lord.
So how do you know if you're saved?
You will come to hate Sin
At first, it may not feel very different. After I got saved, my life went on as usual. I must admit that I still struggled a great deal with sin. The difference was that I confessed it and felt shame for it. Then over the years, sin completely lost is appeal. Now, I find myself hating even hearing of sin. I loathe sin and what it did to me and what it does to others. I hate any sin within myself and am quick to repent and ask for help to overcome it. Yes, you will still sin on occasion. We all struggle with different weaknesses, but the difference is, you hate it, quickly repent, and find that over the years, you sin less and less.
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 1 john 3:9
You will grow to love the Bible.
I'm not saying I always love to sit and read the Bible. Sometimes it's a struggle to set aside the time to read it. But I will say that when I do (which I make a habit of every day) I end up LOVING it. The Words jump off the page at me and I love the wisdom and insight the Holy Spirit gives me
You will love spending time in prayer with the Lord
I'm not talking about uttering a few requests now and then. I'm talking about quality time in the Lord's presence where you feel His love and grace surround you. It's like heaven on earth. This takes time to cultivate, time for your faith to grow... but as it does, these moments with him will become so precious to you, you won't be able to go about your day without it. Jesus will become real to you as you progress in your walk, and develop a close relationship with Him.
You will start to see changes in your likes/dislikes
I remember after I got saved, my taste in music and TV began to change drastically. Some of the shows I used to enjoy became disgusting to me and I had to quit watching them. Some of the music made my spirit feel yucky and I had to stop. Drinking too much, going to clubs, sexy movies, etc... these things will disgust you and you will lose your desire for them
You will start to see changes in your personality as you bear fruit for the Lord.
Love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, gentleness, goodness, faith.. these things should be growing within you. Small at first, but over the years, you should be seeing evidence of them
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:5-9
You will have a strong desire to please the Lord and do good for others
One of the things I pray nearly every day is "Lord, let me put a smile on your face today!" And I mean it. I want to please my heavenly Father. I want to do His will. I want to love others as He does. I often fall short, but I really want to do better every day. We aren't saved by our works, but they are evidence that we are truly saved. Check out these verses from James 2
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
Below is one of the most important Scriptures in the Bible. It proves that you can think you are saved and even do many works and even miracles for the Lord in His name, and still not know Jesus. The word "knew" that Jesus uses is a word used to describe a marriage kind of knowing! This describes a close relationship with Jesus that involves being filled with His Spirit and spending time with Him.
“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. 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?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ Matthew 7:21-23
If you don't see any of these things in your life. If you continue to sin and enjoy it and don't feel bad about it. If you don't see any of the fruits of the Spirit developing within you, and you don't enjoy reading your Bible or praying, then I would get on my knees and seek the Lord immediately if I were you. I'm not in a position to judge whether you are saved or not, but I would be worried. If you're a new Christian, then be patient. These things take time, but you should be seeing at least some of them developing soon. If you've been "saved" for years, please get alone with God, and truly seek and receive the salvation He so freely offers.
You see, salvation isn't just about saying a prayer or believing in Jesus or attending a church. Salvation is a change of heart, an indwelling of the Holy Spirit that changes you. What people need to realize is that when you get saved, you make Jesus Lord. That means you obey Him and follow Him and allow Him to change you, mold you, and make you like Him. It's not just a free ticket into heaven. It's a complete change in lifestyle, purpose, goals, and personality. Everything will change, and, take it from a notorious sinner like me, they change for the Better! I would NEVER go back to my life before Jesus!
Last of all, what are we being saved from? From an eternity without God. Call it hell or whatever you wish, if God isn't there, nothing good is there either because God is the creator of all things good. He longs for everyone to receive His free gift so they can be with Him forever in a paradise better than any of us could imagine. But He leaves the choice up to us.
Why can't He just take everyone to heaven then? Because God is Holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. If we were to approach Him in our sin, we would be incinerated on the spot. So God had to sacrifice His own Son to pay for our sins so that when we approach Him at the end of our lives, if we have received that sacrifice, we are cleansed of all our sin and can live with God forever. Jesus paid the price that we would have had to pay for our sins. He took that punishment on Himself, so that we could become holy and righteous and be able to spend eternity with God.
Thank you, Jesus, for your enormous sacrifice for us!!