This is the question that many ask themselves all the time. Whether they're actual Believers or people searching, this is a question that everyone who has some sort of knowledge of Heaven, Hell, the afterlife, and/or the supernatural asks themselves at some point in their lives, and even more are uncertain by the time of their death where they're going to end up. How scary is that!?!?!
To make this even more personal, this is something I've been struggling with over the past few weeks and something I'll most-likely struggle with again in my life. The difference is that when I'm struggling with it, it's most likely the Enemy trying to deter me from my Savior and His will, whereas with many others (I'm talking both saved and un-saved here people) it's either the Lord trying to wake them up or it is in fact the Enemy. Though, to be completely fair, I won't and can't speak for others and who or what is making them ask this question or doubt, but I can speak for myself and I know that in the past, at least for me, it has been both from the Lord and from the Devil.
So let me ask you all a question and answer it in your head, how do you know you're saved?
- Islam teaches salvation through the "grace" of Allah AND through GOOD WORKS (and even then there is no guarantee), to them Christ was just a prophet
- Hinduism teaches salvation through four different means, that ultimately go back to you being responsible for your salvation through WORKS
- Buddhism teaches salvation through becoming "enlightened" through following four noble truths
- Judaism teaches good works and keeping the Law (their salvation is connected to the entire Jewish people), remember the Jews (for the most part, there are exceptions of course) did NOT accept Jesus as the Messiah, they're still waiting
- Catholicism essentially teaches salvation by baptism and good works (again, Catholicism is NOT Christianity... I cannot stress that enough and will in fact write about it at some point on this blog. DO NOT BE DECEIVED)
- Mormonism/LDS teaches salvation through faith with a particular emphasis on good works being the main focus while developing a good, moral character
- Jehovah's Witnesses teach that until sinners repent of their sins and call out to Jehovah (again, not Jesus Christ, but Jehovah) they cannot be saved, though unattainable without good works. Not to mention they believe Jesus was just Michael the Archangel anyways...
These are just a few of the other "ways" to salvation that other people believe and I want you all to realize just how alone Christians are in the world because of it. Now, obviously we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to guide, comfort, and protect us (though only to a point with the protecting, remember Job's story?) and we have our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, aka the Church aka the Bride, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, we stand alone.
But what does Scripture actually say about Salvation? Does it give us a clear answer? How do we know if we're saved and where we'll be spending eternity?
Well, eternity's a long time, and if you want to know for sure where you'll be spending it you need to make sure your heart is right with the Lord, and the only way to do that is to believe. John 3:16 says...
For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH IN HIM should not perish but have everlasting life.ALL you have to do to escape eternity in torment is to BELIEVE! Every world religion out there teaches that in order to achieve salvation or enlightenment, you have to be good, do good, think good, and have good character. Nowhere in Scripture does the Lord tell us that we need to be "good" in order to get into Heaven. In fact, Romans 3:23 says...
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;Did you catch the key word there guys? ALL. If we ALL have indeed fallen short of the glory and majesty of God, then NONE of us are in fact actually "good" and can never be (in and of ourselves) "good". We can say, "yeah, so-and-so's a good person", but according to the Paul, no one is good! Should we let this discourage us? No, absolutely not, in fact far from it, it should be MOTIVATION for us to obey the Lord's commandments (as seen in Exodus 20 and more specifically in Luke 10:27).
Now please don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying that this verse is trying to get us to do good works in order to atone for our salvation, I'm 100% against that view (though like everyone I sometimes tend to forget that). No, what I'm saying is what the Lord has said all along in Matthew 7:20...
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.Now, technically, if we're looking at Matthew 7 in context (which, granted, is a HUGE assignment and a big discussion in and of itself, so if you want more on Matthew 7, please check out my previous blog post on the last 15 or so verses HERE), Jesus is technically speaking about false prophets here in this passage, yet He's also talking about believers as a whole as He actually goes on to say that "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven", which is some pretty scary stuff if you're not following the Lord. But back to my point, my point here is that FAITH and SALVATION is NOT by works, but the signs of a truly born-again believer are that of their works. In Christianity, works are an side-effect of faith, NOT a requirement for salvation. Remember, the man on the cross next to Jesus simply believed and then died not a few hours later. He wasn't given the opportunity to do works, yet Jesus said that He would see Him in Heaven!
How can you say that? Doesn't the Lord want you to do good works when you're saved?
Well, yeah, of course! That's why He tells us to do them (Luke 10:27), but unlike RELIGION, Jesus (who hates corrupt/oppressive religion by the way, look at His treatment of the Pharisees...) doesn't require us to DO anything, it's all about HIM and if we simply would believe IN HIM, then we are covered by His blood and grace. Just look at what Ephesians 2:8-9 says...
(8) For by GRACE are ye saved through FAITH; and that NOT of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: (9) NOT of works, lest any man should boast.I think that passage of Scripture is BEYOND clear and refutes just about any other "way" to Heaven... John 14:6 makes it even clearer for those who are still not sure about that Ephesians verse:
Jesus saith unto him, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: NO man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."Clear enough? I would think so, but I know that I myself have been struggling even with this as of late. In fact, it's been hard to me to function or do anything out of fear that my heart isn't in the right place, fear of Hell, and fear that I don't truly believe what I say I believe.
But here's the thing, I can see the change in my life. I can see who I WAS, dead in my sin, transgression, even in my walk with the Lord at times, and who I am NOW. I can see all the blessings the Lord has allowed in my life and I can see Him working in every situation in my life. My favorite verse, Romans 8:28 says,
And we know that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them that have been called according to His purpose.You see, I know that I'm saved and am confident in that salvation because I see all the good He's done in my life! He's blessed me with an incredible family who has trained me up in the ways of the Lord, life-long friends who would lay their lives down for me and vice versa, a Sanctuary that I can go to when I need to escape the world, a great college-age ministry that keeps me accountable, an amazing trip to Israel to see Him really work, triumph over demons, and much much more! I mean, I know for a fact that there have been multiple times where I should have been dead or have almost been dead that He has spared me from!
But good things are not the only sign of salvation, trials and tribulations are as well. God puts these trials into our lives so that we become more and more like His Son and our Savior, the PERFECT Lamb (Romans 8:29). He allows these trials and tribulations to test our faith (the Book of Job). And He allows these to occur so that we can endure until the end and trust in Him wholeheartedly (James 1:2-4). Romans 5:3-5 tells us to rejoice and be glad when we are tested and put through trials and tribulations! This reminds me of C.S. Lewis' "Screwtape Letters" (which I need to re-read again desperately...) where Screwtape basically tells his nephew Wormwood that "dead" Christians or unbelievers or those who don't have the potential to become genuine believers aren't people they need to bother or screw (ha ha) with, it's those who ARE saved and know Jesus Christ who they are afraid of and need to dull.
This is so true today and people ignore it almost completely. I know it's true in my life! I struggle with a dull heart towards the Lord and with trying to live in the world but not be of it. IT'S HARD! No one ever said it would be easy! But this is the life I chose, and if you are also a believer, then it's the life you chose as well. If not, then you live for your father the Devil! Some people are okay with that, others glad even, yet others don't even realize it and are living for themselves, others, or the world. Matthew 6:24 begins by saying, "No man can serve two masters..." This is an extremely hard thing but either we are to give our lives to Christ to do what He will or we will choose to live for ourselves instead! Does that not mean you can't enjoy life or do things that you want to do ever? No, I don't believe it does, but I DO in fact believe that we have to give it ALL to Him. The verse ends by saying, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." In this passage, Jesus is specifically preaching on money, yet what can we replace that with in our own lives? For me, it's entertainment (TV, comics, movies, etc.)! For some it's money, others family or friends, some self, others food, possessions, or recognition. You can basically replace money with anything here and the Scripture will still have effect.
So how do you make sure that you're saved? Well, before you can make sure that you're saved, you better make sure that you aren't fooling yourself first. Make sure that you're not just living a tradition (John 8:42-44). Make sure you don't believe you're saved because of your behavior (Luke 18:10-14). And finally, make sure you aren't following other religion's pattern and believing you're saved because of your deeds (Matthew 7:21-23).
Special shout-out to Bible Study Planet for those three mistakes and their references (http://biblestudyplanet.com/how-do-we-know-were-saved-2/)!
So how do we know, according to Scripture, that we're saved? Well, first of all, I want you all to know that if you don't "feel" like you're saved or it's because of a feeling or emotion that you're doubting, STOP IT! Emotions are lies, Scripture tells us to have a sober or sound mind because Satan is waiting for an opportunity to attack (1 Peter 5:8). If we leave ourselves vulnerable to the world and sin, then we'll be overcome by the world and sin. Yet, if we stay vigilant and confident in Scripture and our faith, we can rest assured knowing that Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
Let us also remember what John says in 1 John 5:13 (as well as the whole chapter if we're at it)...
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.All we have to do is believe that Jesus is in fact who He says He is! We must confess and repent of our sins before Him and have faith that His grace will cover us and make us perfect and holy in the eyes of the Father and that His Holy Spirit will dwell in us and change our heart, mind, and spirit for Him. Don't just simply "pray a prayer". Don't fall into the lie that is "American Christianity". Christianity is a LIFESTYLE brought about by a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus Christ. Nothing more, nothing less. Christianity is NOT simply a religion but a common faith, a common relationship, in which we as believers share with one another.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to always remember that you are saved by grace through faith alone. I know. I still sometimes have lingering thoughts about it, but then I must rebuke those thoughts saying, "Get behind me Satan!" and remember Whose child I am. Jesus will always hear us, always intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25) and that's something we as believers NEED to remember. Persecution IS coming to America, in fact it's already beginning to show up in different ways across the US, and it will only get worse before Jesus returns. But remember this, take heart, for He has overcome the world.