Biblical evidence of salvation includes the following:
1. A life-changing conversion experience (John 3:3; Mat. 18:3; 2 Cor. 5:17).
In every single case, the salvations described in the Bible were life-changing conversion experiences. We think of the woman at the well (John 4), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41-42), the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-39), Paul (Acts 9:1-20), Lydia (Acts 16:14-15), and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34).
2. Personal knowledge of the Lord (Jn. 17:3; Mat. 11:28-30; Gal. 4:6).
Salvation is not a reformation or a new religion. It is to know the Lord personally, to walk and talk with Him as Lord and Saviour, Father and Friend. It is to cry, “Abba, Father.”
When people express doubt about their salvation, I ask them if they know the Lord and when and how it was that they came to know Him.
Many young church people are like Samuel who knew about the Lord but did not know the Lord in a personal way (1 Sam. 3:7).
Jesus warned about those who profess Him as Lord, but He says to them, “I never knew you” (Mat. 7:21-23). He warned of the foolish virgins to whom the bridegroom says, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Mat. 25:12).
3. Love for and obedience to God’s Word (Jn. 8:47).
A person’s attitude toward the Bible is one of the clearest evidences of his spiritual condition. Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (Jn. 10:26-30).
After I professed faith in Christ at age 10-11, I had no more interest in the Bible than I had before. I never read it. I had no interest in preaching and teaching. I was at church because my parents took me, not because I had an interest in spiritual things. That is not the condition of a saved person.
4. Love of righteousness (1 Jn. 2:3-4).
Consider the testimony of David Sorenson, a pastor’s son. He made a profession of faith at age five in an evangelistic meeting. He was coached to tell others that he was saved, and he did that for 15 years. But he says, “I had no interest in the things of God. I only went to church because my dad was the pastor, and I had to go. I could not have cared less about the Bible.” At age 20 he was saved in Bible College and his life changed radically because he began to love the things he used to hate and to hate the things he used to love.
One thing that will always change is the individual’s attitude toward authority. If a child is saved, he will change in his attitude toward the authority of his parents and teachers and church leaders.
5. Continuing in the gospel (Col. 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:1-2; Heb. 3:12-14).
Salvation is evident by continuing in the gospel. Those who profess the gospel and then renounce it are not saved and never were saved. I have seen many examples of this through the years.
I think of my own experience. I made a profession of faith in Christ as a boy, but I turned away from the gospel and accepted Hindu doctrines such as reincarnation.
I think of a young married couple in the first church I joined. They opened their home to me, introduced me to the Sword of the Lord pamphlets, and encouraged me in many ways. I went off to Bible School for a year, and when I returned home, I was told that they were divorced. I found the man at his work and talked to him and was shocked to hear that he no longer believed in Christ as Lord and Saviour.
I think of John and Charles Wesley, who were so zealous for Christ that they formed a “holy club” at Oxford University, were labeled “Methodists” for their methodical habits of prayer and Bible reading, were ordained as Anglican priests, and hazarded the dangerous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to America in order to preach to the natives. But the Wesleys were trusting in their good works rather than the grace found in the gospel of Christ. They knew about the Lord, but they didn’t know Him personally. When a Moravian preacher asked John if he had a hope to be saved, he replied, “I do.” But when the preacher asked him the reason of his hope, he said, “Because I have used my best endeavours to serve God.”
I think of a pastor’s brother who made a profession of faith in Christ, but he now believes there are many ways to God.
I think of a pastor’s son who was looked up to by the young people in his church, but today he professes to be an atheist.
I think of a Roman Catholic Church who prayed the “sinner’s prayer” but still believes that good works are a part of salvation and that “good people go to heaven.”
I think of Hindus who have attended our services and Bible studies in Nepal and professed to “believe in Jesus” but who turned back to Hinduism and idolatry.
6. Divine chastisement (Heb. 12:6-8)
A child of God can and does sin, but there is an indwelling, loving Disciplinarian who chastens him. There is even a sin unto death (1 Jn. 5:16-17).
The saved person will have a sensitivity to sin and a conviction about sin. I think of a child who got saved and afterwards became concerned about sins she had committed and “gotten away with.” Before salvation, if her parents were not watching, she would do things behind their backs. For example, she took her father’s socks and stuffed them down a hole in the back hallway. The disappearance of the socks was a unsolved mystery in the home, but after she got saved she came weeping to her mother and confessed that sin, though no one had ever caught her. That is an evidence that something real was happening in her life. She stopped being “sneaky.” She starting being trustworthy to obey even if no one was watching. Those are simple, but profound, evidences of a spiritually-converted life in a child.
When looking for evidence, we aren’t looking for sinless perfection. We must be careful that we not think that the saved individual will suddenly become perfect. When “testing” others, the child of God must not forget how imperfect he is! We are simply looking for a regenerated heart and a changed direction in life.
Children will be children, but there will always be a change in thinking and attitude if an individual is saved, whether he be young or old. We must believe the Bible when it says that profession is not possession (Titus 1:16).
So many children in Christian homes and churches make a profession of faith in Christ but they do not show a change in their lives, and they eventually depart to the world. In many cases, the parents and the church leaders still say they are saved.
Jerry was my best buddy growing up. We went through school together, graduated together, went to Vietnam in the Army about the same time, and came back to America and became drug-using “hippies” together. I came to Christ at age 23, but Jerry never did. He mocked my faith in Christ and refused to listen to me when I tried to talk to him from the Bible. Eventually he got involved in “Native America” spirituality, which is demonism. He died a few years ago at about age 61, and I visited his mother. His mother and father were faithful church goers, and the mom had been a Baptist Sunday School teacher. She told me that she had hope of Jerry’s salvation because he went to church when he was a boy, but there was zero evidence that he was saved.
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