One of the things that seemingly torments many children of God is whether or not they can know if they are truly saved. This is one of the saddest conditions in which a Christian can find himself. Getting up in the morning and wondering if I am okay. Going to bed at night and wondering if I am okay. Unable to sleep through the night because of wondering if I am okay. It can be very debilitating to a person.
Not only is that the case, but consider the following as well. As difficult as it may be to accept, if we constantly live with that doubt, then we are exhibiting a lack of faith in God. Did Jesus not say “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16)? Do we trust what Jesus said is true, or do we doubt Him?
The responses of some can be indicators of their trust or doubt. Some Christians will readily, and with confidence, acknowledge that they are saved. Others will be more cautious with their responses. Some will say something similar to, “I hope that I am saved.” What might be meant by that statement is that the individuals are not confident about salvation, but rather are longing/wishing for such. Yes, we should long/wish to be saved, but if we have done what God instructs us to do, then we should not doubt what our God has said either.
It is with gratefulness and assurance that I am able to affirm the following statement. Each person can know whether he is saved! John wrote, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13). By inspiration, John made it clear that first century Christians could “…know…” they were saved. If that blessing was enjoyed by first century Christians, then why should twenty first century Christians not have that same joy as well?
John used the term “…believe…” to describe what is necessary for man to “know” that he has “eternal life.” Although it may seem to some that John taught the false doctrine of salvation through faith alone, that is not the case at all. The doctrine of “faith only” comes into direct contradiction with what is found in James 2:24: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Therefore John meant more than just simply acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God. Instead, John used a figure of speech called a synechdoche. A synechdoche uses just a part of something (in this case “…believe…”) to refer to an entire thing (which happens to be God’s complete requirements for salvation: faith plus obedience to God’s Word; Eph. 2:8-9; James 2:14-26).
John 3:16 is very similar to 1 John 5:13. John 3:16, contrary to the many false teachers, and those that have false hope because of believing the error, never has taught that salvation is by faith alone. The original Greek word translated “believeth” in John 3:16 means “faithful trust conjoined with obedience.” That is the same thing that John taught in 1 John 5:13. John and God have been misrepresented by too many for far too long.
In order for a person to know that he is saved, he must check with the Bible to verify that he has done all that is necessary. Yes, belief, in the sense of faith that Jesus is the Son of God, is absolutely a part of God’s plan of salvation (Heb. 11:6). However, so is repentance of one’s past sins (Acts 17:30), confession of one’s faith that Jesus is the Son of God (Matt. 10:32-33) and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). None of this things can be excluded if a person wants salvation.
Once a person obeys the Gospel (does the aforementioned things), then he must live a faithful life in order to remain saved. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you and evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). Also, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:14). Faithfulness is therefore absolutely essential.
The question then arises, what about when a person sins after becoming a Christian? This may be the issue that causes the most doubt when it comes to salvation. John indicated that when Christians “…walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Also, “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). Therefore, a faithful child of God can know with certainty that the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing (Eph. 1:7; Rev. 2:10).
So, the question of whether a person can know if he is saved has been answered from the Bible. That answer is yes! If he obeyed the plan of salvation, then that person was saved. If he is remaining faithful since obeying the Gospel, then he is still saved! Let us not show our God a lack of faith! Let us not bring unnecessary torment into our daily lives. Let us be grateful, confident and certain! There should be no doubt. Corey Barnette