|Volume 22 Number 10 October 2020||
Recently in a Bible class, someone put forth this question: “How do I know I am saved from my sins?” This is a very important question for every one of us. You see, if we are not saved on earth, we will not be saved in Heaven, since only the saved ones will enter Heaven. So, how does one surely know he is saved?
There are plenty of people who would explain this by saying that one’s feeling is the evidence or the proof of one’s salvation. In other words, they believe, when a person accepts Jesus Christ as one’s personal Savior, and then, this brings good feeling into one’s heart because he feels that he has been forgiven. Yet, the question is, “How can one know if his feelings are right or wrong?” One’s feelings are the result of one’s education or knowledge. Someone may feel happy upon learning certain news, but if he had not learned the truth or if had he been misinformed, then, his feelings would be wrong. His happy feelings would not change the truth, like in the case of the rich fool about whom we read in Luke 12:15-21.
There is no place in the Bible where we are taught by a command or an example that one is saved by his feelings. In fact, the Bible teaches the very opposite to this view in Matthew 7:22-23. Here the Lord said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness.’” First John 3:4 says, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” The emphasis of Scripture is not on feelings but rather on doing what the Lord has said one must do to be saved (Mark 16:16).
In addition, there are those who emphasize having an experience of a new birth. They believe that a person who has had some kind of a supernatural or a miraculous experience of a new birth is saved. This so-called experience of new birth also includes in it a mental acceptance of Christ as one’s personal Savior, which results in a good feeling. The real experience is brought about by an extraordinary sudden event, better felt than told, as people say, such as a dream or a vision. Such later becomes a testimony of this so called “born again” individual.
For instance, some time back, a young man who claimed to be a preacher visited me and told me how he was saved. He said:
Years ago, I attended a meeting where a preacher told how Jesus died for our sins. He exhorted people to accept Jesus as their personal Savior and said that those who would want to be saved should raise their hands so that he would pray for them to be saved. I accepted Christ and raised my hand, and after the prayer, I felt I was saved. That night I could not sleep, and as I lay in the bed, my sins began to come before me one by one, as though I was seeing a movie. Then, I saw Christ on the cross, and I began to cry. The following morning, I felt so good and happy.
Many other such examples could also be cited, but all such experiences are based on one’s own thinking and imaginations. Stories like these may sound good, and men may want to hear them, but such have nothing to do with one’s salvation from sin and the real new birth as Christ taught in John 3:3, 5. Christ there said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” However, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” He didn’t teach one must have an experience of new birth, such as coming through a dream or a vision, but rather He taught one must be born of the water and the Spirit. That means one must be baptized in water, as the Spirit directs through God’s Word. In Mark 16:16, Christ said that to be saved, one must both believe and be baptized. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:13, said, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” Peter preached to people, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Thus, the Bible, God’s Word, is very plain in telling us how we can surely know that we are saved. Just as we know that Christ died on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8), that He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), that He will come back one day to judge the world (Acts 17:30-31) and many other things by reading the Scriptures, the Bible contains God’s inspired Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) about how one can surely know he is saved. The same Bible also tells us that the Christ who died on the cross to save us from sin is the Author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him, and not just believe in Him (Hebrews 5:8-9). This definitely indicates that there are certain specific commands of Christ that must be obeyed to be saved. It is just that simple.
As already observed, Christ, the Author of salvation, requires all who want to be saved to believe in Him and to be baptized (Mark 16:16). The baptism for the remission of sins must be preceded by repentance of sins (Acts 2:38; Luke 13:3) and confession of Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:36-38; Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9-10). Thus, the assurance of salvation as promised and provided by Christ comes to an individual on the basis of one’s faith in Christ and obedience to His commands, and not by feelings or a supposed supernatural experience or even by faith only (James 2:24-26). The Scriptures reveal how one can surely know that he is saved—by doing precisely what our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16) and the inspired apostles taught (Acts 2:38; 22:16). One is saved when He obeys Christ’s command to be saved.
So often, something will happen, and someone will exclaim, “Did you see that?” It may have been something extraordinary and could have been important, but someone may have been concentrating on something else or some other kind of distraction may have captured one’s attention. While one of the people saw it as something very exciting, dangerous or unusual, at the same time, the other party didn’t see it at all.
We’ve all seen blinders on horse’s eyes to keep them looking straight ahead so that they won’t be startled at some unusual or strange sound or something they see off to the side. Those things become distractions and cause them to hinder their ability to keep going straight forward. People are like that too. Even Christians may need blinders to keep them from reacting to distractions along the way. Those things can cause us to lose sight of our destination of Heaven. When we react to and give in to sin, we lose our concentration on the heavenly goal. Jesus spoke of this very thing in Luke 9:62, where He said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” We must set our eyes on the heavenly goal and not keep looking back, whereby we are tempted to participate in all those old sins we gave up to become followers of Christ.
So, what kinds of blinders do Christians need to keep them on the straight and narrow path? God is the major blinder. If we keep our eyes on Him, He promises, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Psalmist always reminded us to put our trust in the Lord and follow Him. He said, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2). The promise is that God has done His part to help us keep our eyes on the goal. Now, it’s up to us to do the rest. Don’t look back at the old pleasures of sin and be tempted to commit them again, but be faithful to God and look forward to a heavenly home with Him.
Jesus is a major blinder. He lived on earth and was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was our example and taught us that we can overcome the temptations of Satan. James said, “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). Man looks upon sin and wants to do the things that Satan offers. We must keep our eyes on the path that Jesus showed us and put blinders on to the offerings of Satan. When we do that, we “make… [our] calling and election sure” and “will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).
Fellow Christians are major players in helping us put on blinders to sin. The apostle Paul said, “…Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Does that mean we ought to be selective about with whom we spend our time? We can understand from Paul’s statement that keeping bad company causes bad things to happen!
When we’re with Christians, we’re not nearly as apt to be tempted to do bad things as when we’re in the company of others. After all, speaking about things eternal, we should all be headed in the same direction. James put it this way. “…Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Sinful companions can bring one to do sinful things, and thus, separate him from God. Choose Christian companions who have the same heavenly goal that you do.
The next time you feel that your “blinders” are askew, place them back in position, looking neither to the right hand nor the left but keeping your eyes on the heavenly goal. Recall that Jesus said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Remember that God, Christ and fellow Christians are blinders that help us stay on the “strait gate” and “narrow… way” (Matthew 7:14) to Heaven!