Are you really saved?
A question I get at least a few times a week is:
How can I be sure that I will really go to heaven when I die? Yes, I have accepted Jesus as my savior in the past, but I have also had my doubts in my life and I have not always been the best Christian… I have sinned quite a bit, I have backslid in time, so I don’t know if I am really saved… Am I a real Christian and therefore saved?
First of all: I cannot determine that for you because I cannot look into your heart. Only God can do that, and I am not God. So it’s something between God and you. Fortunately, we have a handbook (the Bible) and we can look in it to see what The Maker says about it. Because God wants to give you the certainty whether you are saved or not, so that it does not remain a question but a certainty:
I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.1 John 5:13
So, let’s see what’s written. Let’s start with: what do you believe? Mind you, it’s about believing, not about “feeling in our hearts”. What you feel in your heart and what you believe can be and are two different things. Different things too. Your feelings change all the time. Feelings have their ups and downs, they can fly in all directions, but too often those feelings are not true. We may feel that today is a bad day, but is that really so? Is it really as bad as we feel, or is the truth really different? You have a house, a job, and yes, just that one project at work is not going well. Is it really a bad day, or does our feelings tell us something other than the big truth?
So your feelings cannot tell you whether you are a Christian and whether you are saved. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you are saved by your feelings, but it says:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.Ephesians 2:8-9
Let’s take a marriage for example. Before you get married (and afterwards) you have a lot of feelings for each other and that is why you get married. But if the question is “are we married?”, you can be sure that you are married because somewhere in a town hall there is a document that says so. Is that document really there? Have you ever actually seen it? Probably not, but you believe (without any doubt) that there is. Your feelings can say whatever they want, but that document is clear: you are married. Full stop. Even further, if you are married, you have done so for and(!!) with God. That marriage promise is fixed with Him, in a new covenant with Him.
The question is therefore not: do I feel whether I am saved, but the right question is: do I believe whether I am saved? What do I believe? So here comes the first question: do you believe this:
I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.John 5:24
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
And then we come to the second question: why do you even ask yourself that question, and where do you think that question comes from to begin with? That’s right, complicated question, let’s look at the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes into you as soon as you truly believe. No additional action required. The verse below is wonderfully clear about this when He gets it into you:
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.Ephesians 1:13
And how do you know whether the Holy Spirit is in you? John 16 clearly states what the Holy Spirit does in you:
But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.John 16:7-11
Is that in you? When you disobey God, do you experience that the Holy Spirit judges you? Is that active? Do you experience that the same Holy Spirit speaks to you when you disobey, when you sin? Does the Holy Spirit suddenly tell you, at that one moment, that Bible verse that encourages you or that one verse that corrects you when you go wrong? Does He give you the strength to continue at times when (humanly speaking) you can no longer do so? (and those are just a few examples) If you experience that, then the Holy Spirit is in you and Christ has also, as it were, put his ‘ownership stamp’ on you. So if you ask yourself the question “am I really saved” and that makes you very uneasy internally… who do you think asked that question in you? (now read the above verses again)
Do you know the proverb: you can recognize a tree by its fruits? This text also appears several times in the Bible. Well, the Bible also says what the fruits of the Holy Spirit are:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,Galatians 5:22
Do you experience those fruits in your daily life? When you see those fruits, you also know what The tree is.
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.Romans 8:16
The other way around also works… if you do not experience the Holy Spirit in you… and you do not see those fruits, then no ‘ownership stamp’ has been placed and that is not a good sign. Living through your old life, without the “drive” that His voice gives you??… then you must indeed ask yourself the question: am I saved? Am I even a child of God? Or did I believe in something else, in a god who does not judge, a god who does not ask whether you are obedient to him, a god who does not judge. Because we do not call that God, but a false, self-made god. And that won’t save you.
If you do not experience God’s spirit, there is a blockage between you and God and you will really have to go (back) to God. He is there for you, but do you really allow Him into your life?
And the last question you should ask yourself to “test” whether you are truly saved is: Do I really have the desire to serve God? And mind you, it’s about serving. So it’s not about what God gives you, but what do you give to God, and is that desire really in you? Does the desire live in you to share His word, His truth, with others? If that desire lives in you, you struggle with the question “how can I serve Him more” that is good! You want to go more to Him, serve Him, follow Him, learn more of Him. You see that struggle (can I do more, can I say goodbye to my old self even more) even in Paul. See this: (sorry, long text)
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power[b] within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.Romeinen 7:14-25
So the struggle you are having now could be a very good sign! You wish to serve God more, you want to be with God more, you want to do more for Him, that is what He asks of you. If that question is your life, and this might sound strage…., be happy with it! Thats great!
But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.1 Samuel 12:24
God created us to praise Him, He did not create us so that He could serve us…
But here too… the other way is also possible. Should God always be there for you, or are you there for God? Is the order correct? Which God do you actually believe in? A God who serves you, or a God you serve…. If you think God serves you (some kind of magical spirit that serves you when you need it without doing anything for Him), you believe in a false, non-Biblical god…
But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.John 4:23
And that concludes today’s thoughts, with which we have hopefully been able to answer the question, also for you: are you saved?
Next time, we will address the question: “Once saved, always saved?” / “Can you lose your faith”?