Knowing for Sure
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
~ 1 John 5:1-3
I hear a great many people who seem absolutely convinced that they are “saved,” i.e., that their sins will be forgiven and that they will go to heaven, bye and bye. Let us call this the “I am saved” group. Almost all of these people, however, think that there are some other people in the “I Am Saved” group, who are not saved — who are deluding themselves. So let us call them the “I Am Saved but You Are Not” group.
Then we can break our new group into about 100 or more subgroups. I won’t belabor you with all the disputes among Christian denominations. Some of them are fairly large and appear to be irreconcilable, such as the basic Catholic/Protestant division over the Doctrine of Finality of Scripture.
There is nothing in the Bible that will provide a logical, hard-and-fast litmus test by which we can tell whether or not another person has been saved. Or, perhaps, there are a number of things, and they are contradictory! But can we assure ourselves of our own salvation? Look at what John says in his epistle. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.”
This is not a theological treatise, but taking 1 John 5:1 at face value, if someone says that Jesus is the Christ — the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God sent to save mankind — that person has been “born of God.” And furthermore, anyone who loves God loves His children, that is, he loves everybody who says that Jesus is the Christ.
This is not rocket science. If another person says that Jesus is the Christ, and you don’t love that person, you don’t love God. When we bash another Christian denomination, we are walking on thin ice. I am not going to start splitting hairs, here. But judging whether or not another person is saved is explicitly reserved to God Himself. “The Lord will judge his people.” (Hebrews 10:9) If you have any doubts about this, read Matthew 25:31-4, which depicts Christ judging all the nations. In a word, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)
So I implore all who would follow Christ, examine your hearts for love, because by your love you will find your hope of salvation. When you become angry, when you wish harm to another or judge another, get on your knees and pray for forgiveness until the hatred is swept away and you know that you have been forgiven; for Christ will forgive. He loves us and wants to save us from that part of ourselves that leads us into sin; and we can be sure of His forgiveness, if we truly repent.
Lord, examine my heart and show me my sin, that I might repent and be forgiven. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer