Have you ever wondered if you’re really a Christian, or if you’re truly going to heaven when you die?
Have you ever doubted your salvation or wondered if you’re truly born again? It’s not uncommon to feel doubt once in a blue moon, but living with a nagging feeling of uncertainty doesn’t fit a child of God. So how can you really know if you’re saved and that you’ll go to heaven when you die? Here are 3 ways you can cast that fear aside and make sure you’re saved right now.
1. Do you remember a time when you decided to turn from your sins and follow after Christ?
Maybe you remember a time at Bible School or church camp that you went forward during the service. But did you personally make a decision to turn from your sins and trust in the Lord Jesus, or did you just go through the motions?
People often talk about wanting to be closer to God or to have a relationship with Him, but did you know that trying to be close to God or do the right things won’t save you? Only faith in Jesus Christ and His precious blood shed for the forgiveness of our sins can do that.
Trying to live right can’t save you. Reading your Bible can’t save you. Those things are good, but if your faith is in those things instead of in Jesus and His finished work at the cross, you’re still doomed.
Here are some other things that people believe will save them but are completely unbiblical and absolutely will NOT save you:
- Having been christened or dedicated to the Lord as a baby
- Attending church
- Having a family member who’s a preacher or Sunday School teacher
- Praying a special salvation prayer
- Saying “I believe in Jesus”
- Having “got religion”
- Speaking in tongues
- Going forward during invitation time at church
- Subscribing to the nonexistent religion of “Christianity”
- Being baptized
- Receiving communion, the Eucharist, or the Lord’s supper
- Being a good person
- Inviting Jesus into your heart
While these things may sound good, none of them will forgive your sins or get you into heaven. My friend, reciting a prayer won’t save you. Going down to the front during a church service won’t save you. And even asking Jesus into your heart won’t save you. (Here’s a great video from Living Waters that explains why it’s not enough.)
Only personal repentance of sins and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord can save.
Because asking Jesus into your heart is an empty action that accomplishes nothing. And it does nothing to address the need for repentance and submission.
The Bible tells us the way to salvation is by admitting we’re sinners in need of a Savior, turning from our sins, and transferring our trust from ourselves to the Savior.
...If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10, NKJV
Salvation is accomplished by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and what He has done—by the remission of sins accomplished through His shed blood and death on the cross.
You see, only Jesus Christ can save. He is all the fullness of God in the flesh. He lived a life that we could never live—one full of temptation and yet free from sin. And He loved us so much that He was willing to go to the cross and die a horrible death in our place, taking on all the sins of the world and satisfying the wrath of God, enduring the punishment for our sins unto death.
Did you know that right before Jesus died on the cross, He cried out, “Finished!”? What did He mean by that? It meant that what He had been sent by the Father to do, He had accomplished. Our sin debt was paid in full.
Imagine a thief standing in front of the judge to answer for his crimes. He might say, “Your Honor, I’m so sorry for what I did. I’ll never do it again.” And even though he might mean it with all his heart, the judge would still have to be just and fair and do what’s right. He might say something like, “Yes, you should be sorry! But that’s not enough, you’re still going to jail.” There would still be a punishment. Even though the criminal was repentant, he would still have to pay for his crime.
But imagine someone came and paid the criminal’s fine. The judge could legally dismiss the case and let the criminal go free. He could say, “Even though you’re guilty, someone else has paid your fine. You’re free to go.”
And THAT is what happened on the cross! Jesus paid for our sins with His life’s blood. He cried, “It is finished!” meaning the debt for our sins had been paid in full. So when we repent and trust in Jesus and what He’s done for us at the cross, God can legally forgive our sins and give us salvation and life eternal!
This is why the Bible tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!
But isn’t believing that Jesus is God’s Son and that He died on the cross for the sins of the world enough to be saved?
No, my friend, it is not. Even the demons know who Jesus is and what He did. There’s a difference between recognizing something as a fact versus actually placing your faith in it.
Here’s what I mean. Imagine you’re on a fiery plane that is 20,000 feet in the air and careening toward the ground. You know you’re going to have to jump to save yourself. Someone hands you a parachute and you shout, “A parachute! This can save me!” but you decide to toss it aside and save yourself by flapping your arms instead.
Of course you wouldn’t do that! You would put that parachute on as fast as you could and trust your life with it. In much the same way, you must “put on” the Lord Jesus. Repent and transfer your trust from yourself to the Savior.
Here’s what Jesus Himself had to say about the absolute necessity of personal repentance:
From that time Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17, AMPC
...you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. Luke 13:3, NLT
After Christ ascended back to heaven, His disciples continued sharing the need for repentance, as Peter did here:
"Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away." Acts 3:17-19, NLT
But what does repent mean? It means that you admit you’re a sinner and turn from that way of living to follow after Christ and obey Him instead.
Sometimes we can get hung up on comparison and think, “Well, I’m a good person compared to other people. I’ve never murdered anyone!” But have you ever told a lie? Have you ever used God’s Name in vain—like saying OMG? Have you ever stolen something, even a cookie when you were a little kid? Have you had sex outside of marriage?
You might not have done all of those, but you’ve done some of them. And even if you’ve never murdered someone, have you ever hated anyone? Jesus said hating someone is the same as murdering them in your heart.
Maybe you haven’t had sex outside of marriage, but have you ever looked at someone with lust? Christ said that is the same as committing adultery in your heart. You see, God is so Holy that He looks not only at our actions but at the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.
We’ve all broken God’s law. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And we can never do anything—no matter how good we think it might be—to cancel out our sins. We’re so tainted from them that any good we could ever try to do is as filthy rags before Holy God.
That shows how serious God is about sin, how wretched we are, and how Holy He is. There is nothing but the cleansing blood of Jesus that can wash away our sins. So to be sure you are saved, you must repent of your sins and trust in the Savior.
If you need help coming to God in prayer to repent, ask for forgiveness, and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, there’s a special page I’ve created to help you do that, just click the link below. But remember that it’s not the prayer that saves but the decision you make behind it to trust in the Savior and His sacrifice for your sins at the cross.
2. Does the way you live your life line up with God’s Word?
This is another question you should answer to help you know if you’ve truly been born again. The Bible tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. This means we have to look at the fruit of our lives. Good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit. And so it is with people.
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5, NLT
...Just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. Matthew 7:20, NLT
So what does your fruit look like? How have you been living your life? Is the presence of Jesus and His redemptive work present? Can you see the transforming power of the Holy Spirit at work in your life?
If you have been born again, your life will reflect it.
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Galatians 5:19-24, NLT
Another way to know for certain that you’ve been born again is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. This isn’t based on whether or not you have “received a word of prophecy” or “spoken in tongues,” this is based on the renewed life and mindset you will have. If you sin, it will grieve the Holy Spirit and, in turn, grieve your heart.
You see, the moment you repent and transfer your trust from yourself to the Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within you the moment you believe, and He will bear witness that you are saved.
The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God. Romans 8:16, AMPC
Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit present in your life? Do you see your mindset and behavior changing as a result of this? Do you seek to follow after Christ and obey God’s Word?
Take an honest look at your thought life and your behavior. When you sin, does it grieve your heart? Do you make the choice to turn from it and follow after the Lord and His Word? Do you notice yourself growing and maturing spiritually?
If you don’t see these things happening in your mind and in your life, make the decision today to “put on” the Lord Jesus like you would that parachute. Believe He is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for your sins, and repent and place all your trust in Him.
You might not feel an immediate difference, but be careful that you don’t get hung up on feelings. Remember that feelings are not the truth, God’s Word is the truth.
We each must choose to repent—to turn away from our sins—and place our faith in Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. God gives to each of us a measure of faith, and He is the Author and Finisher of our faith! So use that measure of faith He’s given you, and—no matter how small you might feel it to be—it is enough to place in Christ Jesus for salvation.
Please know that trusting in Jesus is not about feelings, so don’t get caught up in a fleshly idea that we have to feel some special kind of way to be saved. After you are born again and begin to live for Christ, He will start to mold you into a new creation, and you’ll begin to feel more thankful and have renewed, righteous desires and want to obey Him.
But the moment you’re born again will probably not come with some electric, special feeling. Remember that salvation is by grace through faith, not an emotion. You have faith, we all do, and it’s a decision of where you’re going to place your faith.
We’ll talk more about this in the section below.
3. Are you aware of false conversion?
False conversion means that a person has believed themselves to be saved and on their way to heaven, but in reality, they were never born again and are sadly still on the path to hell.
Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name and driven out demons in Your name and done many mighty works in Your name? And then I will say to them openly (publicly), I never knew you; depart from Me, you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]. Matthew 7:21-23, AMPC
False conversion is a shocking and scary epidemic within the church today. Like we talked about in the first section, nothing can save but faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.
Not going forward in church, not being baptized, and not asking Jesus into your heart. Only personal repentance of sins and submission to Jesus Christ as Lord will save you.
Reading the Bible is good, going to church is good, and wanting to live right is good, but if you’re relying on these things for salvation instead of Christ and His sacrifice at the cross, then you are not saved, and you must be born again.
A huge issue in the church today is the idea that being a Christian can save you. People will often refer to “practicing Christianity” or say things like “I was born a Christian.” My friend, beware of this!
Many have subscribed to a false religion of Christianity today, and they’re still on their way to hell straight from a church pew. It is an absolute tragedy.
You see, Christianity is not a religion. It’s merely a term used to refer to believers who have been born again. Being a Christian refers not to a religion but simply to someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If any of the following things apply to you, they are red flags that you might not be born again and instead have merely subscribed to a false religion:
- The way you live your life does not line up with God’s Word
- You can’t remember a time when you decided to turn from your sins and place your faith in Jesus
- You remember asking Jesus into your heart, but not repenting and submitting to Christ
- You describe yourself as a “practicing Christian,” or as “Christian but not practicing”
- You identify yourself primarily by a denomination (i.e. Catholic or Methodist) instead of as a sinner saved by grace through the blood of Jesus
- You answer the question “Are you saved?” or “Are you born again?” with “I was baptized”
- You remember going forward during church or camp or a concert during invitation time, but your life never really changed and you never really had a desire to follow God
If any of these things describe you, there’s a very good chance you’re never been born again and you’re still lost in your sins.
Believing as a mere historical fact that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that He died on the cross for your sins isn’t the same as placing your faith in Him and following after Him on a personal level.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’" John 3:3-7, NKJV
If you need help in coming before the Lord to confess your sinfulness and accept His forgiveness personally, this will help. Just remember it’s not the prayer being prayed that saves, but faith in Jesus and what He’s done.
Free Prayer Board printable
Ever commit to pray for someone and forget to follow through? I’ve got the solution! Get the password for the library with the free Prayer Board printable here by filling out this form:
I’ve repented and trusted in Jesus, but why don’t I feel any different?
You might not feel a huge immediate difference, but (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) feelings aren’t the truth—God’s Word is truth. And Romans 10:9 tells us that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Simply take Jesus at His Word.
Have you ever noticed that we humans need repetition? Our spouse or someone we love dearly can tell us time and again that they love us, but hearing it once isn’t enough. Even though we see their love through their actions, we still need to be reassured and told that we’re loved over and over.
God knows this about us, and He’s blessed us with plenty of scriptures in the Bible to give us assurance that once we trust in His Son, we’re forgiven once for all and have the promise of eternal life with Him.
Here are some verses that speak to our security in Christ:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17, NKJV
But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Romans 5:8, AMPC
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2, NKJV
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9, NLT
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, NKJV
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:4-9, NLT
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, NKJV
Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Hebrews 10:22-23, NLT
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8, NLT
Isn’t it wonderful to simply be able to take God at His word?!
If you’re ever having a moment of doubt, go straight to the Bible and find reassurance of God’s love and redemptive work through Christ Jesus.
If you’ve done what God has instructed in Romans 10:9, what does that make you? Saved! And if you are saved, you’re saved once for all, because salvation is by grace, not anything we could ever do to earn it.
What a joy it is to know that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and that we are accepted in Him, the Beloved! Once you’re born again, your identity is no longer in yourself, but in the fact that you’re a beloved, forgiven, and accepted child of God.
Remember that we will have feelings, but feelings aren’t always an indication of truth; it is God’s Word that is the ultimate truth. So rely on His Word and know that He is faithful to keep His promises.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” John 10:27-30, NLT
What an assurance, my friend! If we have put on the Lord Jesus like we would put on that parachute we talked about earlier, then we are secure in Him, and nothing can snatch us from His hand!
How do I begin to live for Christ and grow spiritually?
It’s important to know the difference between justification and sanctification. Justification takes place the moment we are born again. Our sins are forgiven, we’re cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and we have right-standing before Holy God. We are justified in His sight because of Christ.
Sanctification also begins after we’re born again, but it’s not instantaneous. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as He begins to convict us of wrong actions and thoughts. Sanctification is a continuous working of Christ in our lives that is setting us apart from the world and aligning our hearts and minds with God’s will. It’s something that will be ongoing until the Lord returns or we are called home.
In order to be open to correction and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we must choose to do things that facilitate spiritual growth. We should always be growing in our relationship with our Father God, learning more about Him and His will for us.
Here are some essential ways that we can begin to live for Christ and grow in our spiritual walk with Him:
- Armor up. While we were still in our sins, and even after we are born again, there is a spiritual war waging night and day all around us. It’s not a choice of whether we’re going to participate or not, because we’re already in it! So we must prepare to stand strong in the faith and in the might of the Lord. Ephesians 6 lays out our battle plan, and it is one of our most powerful tools as a Christian, so suit up!
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel. Ephesians 6:10-19, NKJV
- Read the Bible daily. How can we know the voice of our Shepherd from the voice of the enemy unless we’re talking to Him and listening to Him daily? Set aside time each day—whether it be the first thing in the morning or at night before going to bed—to read and listen to God’s Word. It is the way He speaks to us today, so even though prayer is good, it’s only a one-way channel unless we’re also listening to God through His Word.
- Pray without ceasing. Sounds impossible, right? It’s not completely literal, so yes, it is possible. It’s just like you would talk to your best friend or spouse throughout the day. When any issue pops up, talk to the Lord about it. He wants to know and be involved in every detail of your life—nothing is unimportant to God. Talk about your feelings, ask for guidance, and pray for protection, provision, and the salvation of others. It’s as simple as stopping to ask for blessing on the people involved when you hear an ambulance pass by. And when you notice a beautiful flower, thank Him for His lovely creation. Praise Him for all His goodness and blessings, and sing songs of praise.
- Walk in victory. Yes, we are still in these feeble, fleshly bodies, and we will stumble, but when we do, we repent and get back in step with the Lord, our sins covered by the blood of Jesus. What victory we have in Jesus, and what a privilege to no longer be slaves to sin but bondservants of Christ!
- Fellowship with other believers. Spend time with other believers. Gather with others for study of God’s Word and for praise, worship, and instruction. Be sure that no matter who you hear a sermon, a teaching, or a piece of advice from, to test it against the Word of God and make sure it lines up with scripture.
- Share the good news. Did you know that even though we’re not all called to be preachers or pastors or missionaries, we all ARE called to share the gospel with others? Just think of how wonderful God’s love is and what a horrible fate He saved you from even though you deserved it, and you won’t be able to help but desire to share this good news with others! Speak to the people you encounter in your daily life in a friendly and pleasant way, but don’t compromise your faith or the truth of God’s Word, and share with them their need for repentance and surrender to the Savior.
Final thoughts on how to be sure you’re saved
I hope that after reading this article, you’re able to know for sure whether or not you’re saved, and how to be born again if you realized that you never truly were. Remember not to get hung up on feelings but to follow the Word of God and look to it for assurance above all else. If you’ve repented and placed your faith in Christ, know that He is faithful to keep His promise of salvation, and you can be 100% sure of your eternal destination in heaven!
Free Prayer Board printable
Ever commit to pray for someone and forget to follow through? I’ve got the solution! Get the password for the library with the free Prayer Board printable here by filling out this form:
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