How tragic it would be if we went through life thinking we were saved and then woke up on Judgment Day to find out we were mistaken! But the Bible teaches that this will be the case with many people. Christ said, "Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt.7:22-23).
However, we do not have to go through life without the assurance of salvation. In 1 John 5:13 the apostle says, "These things have I written unto you...that ye may know that ye have eternal life." How then can we have this assurance? This is the most important question we will ever face in life because our eternal destiny is at stake! The Bible teaches that those who remain unsaved will spend eternity in a place of perpetual torment (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 14:9-11). The reason for this is because their sin has not been paid for, and God's perfect justice requires that payment be made for sin (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, it is vital that we know the answer to this question. This is why the Apostle Peter wrote, "Give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Pet. 1:10).
It is true that we must believe in Christ in order to become saved (Acts 16:31), but how can we be sure we have genuinely believed in Him? Certainly we cannot rely upon our feelings since feelings can be misleading. Some might suggest we can be sure by acknowledging the facts of the gospel or saying the sinner's prayer. However, the Bible indicates it is not possible to believe without being regenerated because by nature we are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1 cf. 1 Cor. 2:14). This is why Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Therefore, we cannot know we have truly believed until we know we are born again.
But what does it mean to be born again? Is this some kind of emotional experience? No, the Bible teaches that being born again means our life is changed. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The Bible also tells us what changes will take place in our life when we are born again.
First, we will not habitually commit sin.
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin."—1 John 3:9
"How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?"—Romans 6:2
Second, we will seek to live a holy life by obeying God's Word.
"Everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Him."—1 John 2:29
"And hereby do we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments."—1 John 2:3
Third, we will love others, regardless of who they are or what they have done.
"Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."—1 John 4:7-8
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."—1 John 3:14
Fourth, our affections will not be upon the things of the world.
"If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."—1 John 2:15
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit...But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His."—Romans. 8:5, 9
These changes are not the cause of our salvation for we are saved by faith (Eph. 2:8-9). But rather, they are the evidence that we truly have been born again. If they have not taken place in our life, then it is vital that we earnestly seek God and implore Him to regenerate us. He promises we will find Him if we seek Him with all our heart (Deut. 4:29), and the way to begin is by reading His Word. The Bible says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
- Assurance by Arthur W. Pink
- What Is a Biblical Christian? by Albert N. Martin
- Are You Born Again? by J. C. Ryle