Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How Do We Know Someone Is Saved?

             Last night in our women’s study one of the ladies asked the age old question, “How do we know someone is saved”? I am pretty sure that all of us at some point have asked this question about ourselves, about a loved one, or even someone in the church pew sitting next to us. Most people respond to this question with “Only God knows their hearts”. But yet scripture teaches us that you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. (Matthew 12:33) So, still the question remains, can we really know if someone is saved?
             My answer to this, (and this is just my humble opinion based on my own personal study of the subject, I will leave you to search and study the scriptures yourself) is that we can know and there will be fruit. Jesus said we will know them by their fruits, and I don’t know about you, but I take Jesus at His Word. So how then can we be sure someone is saved?

1) Change. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
There is a visible change in someone who goes from darkness to light. There is a visible change in who they are. Who they once were is fading away and this new person is emerging. For instance, before Christ I used to curse like a sailor. Every other word that left my mouth was about as ungodly as you can imagine. But as soon as I became a believer in Jesus my mouth went from cursing to blessing. Even the sound of cursing makes my skin cringe to this day. There was an immediate change, a visible and audible change in the way I talked. Someone can go to church and do all the wonderful ministries, attend all the right bible studies, but unless there is a visible change in their lives, I would keep praying for them to be saved. Adding good works to your life does not make you a Christian. It just makes you a good worker, and we know that works can’t save you.

2) Doing what is right. Micah 6:8 tells us the next three fruit markers of what a true, saved Christian will look like. I am not saying that we will always follow these fruit markers all the time, but a true Christian will bear these marks more often than not.  “He has shown you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 ESV
A true Christian will do justly. They will seek to do what is right in God’s eyes, not their own. There will be an immediate change, so that what they used to do will no longer be present. For instance, before I was a Christian I was a pretty mean person. I didn’t really care who I stepped on, or who I hurt as long as my needs and my wants were met. I had moment of kindness, but they were short lived and usually motivated by a desire to make myself look and feel good in the eyes of others. I chose to do what was right in my eyes. But, when I became a Christian I began to desire to please God. I wanted to do what was right in His eyes, seeking to please Him first in all that I do, think and say. Am I perfect at this? Not at all, but the desire to please God is more evident in my life than the desire to please self. You can see it- there is fruit.

3) Love kindness. Micah tells us that in addition to doing what is right in God’s eyes, a true Christian will love kindness. (Some version have love mercy). What this means is that a true Christian will act in a manner worthy of God’s grace towards every living creature on God’s earth. Jesus tells us that a true Christian will do to others as we wish to have done to us. (Matthew 7:12) A true Christian will choose to walk in faithfulness, kindness and have mercy on others. This too will be visible fruit in the way they live in relationship with others. A true Christian is not “me” focused but “you” focused. A true Christian will lay down their lives for the sake of others.

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4) Walk humbly. The last marker to a true Christian is their obedience to God’s Word. One of the attitudes I see in the church today is the attitude of what I like to call, “Greasy Grace”. Basically we have justified sin to the point that as long as we believe in Jesus we can live our lives in any way we choose. We can go to bars, curse, live selfishly and sensually as long as we believe in Jesus. This is false faith and if you are living that way, beware, because without obedience there is no hope of eternal life with Jesus. Sin is serious and unless you get serious about sin, it will overtake you, kill you and you will end up weeping and gnashing your teeth because of it.
              Remember the first marker we looked at, a changed life? Your faith in Jesus Christ should change you. Not just once, but continually. You can’t just add good works and be a nice person, there must also be an earnest desire to walk in the commandments of His Word. Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. (John 14:15) He did not say if we love Him we have a free hall pass to live in sin, partake in sin, and make excuses for our sins. Because true love will seek to please the object of their love. And we all know how God sees our sins. So if we say we are a Christian, then we will be obedient to His word.
              The mark of a true Christian is visible. There is fruit that we can see, fruit that we can be encouraged by and fruit that glorifies God. So to answer the question from last night, yes, there is a way to know who is saved and who is not. There is a way to tell who is the wheat and who is the tares. It is our responsibility as true Christians to look for the fruit markers, not to judge them or condemn those who are unsaved, but to encourage them, pray for them and minister to them the grace of God who changes us all from darkness into His marvelous light. So yes, you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. Amen?