"Patzer sees check, Patzer makes check."

- Bobby Fischer
How Do I Know I'm Saved?

Isn't that the question that haunts so many believers the world over?

And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. Whoever says "I know Him" but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked. -- 1 John 1:3-6 (ESV)

Not that leading an ethical life makes one justified, but a justified sinner will necessarily begin to lead a more ethical life as he begins to "deny ungodliness and worldly lust."

This revelation has serious implications for American soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). I say "American soteriology" because I'm an American, and it's the only Babylon I know firsthand. But to speak even more specifically, the implications are particularly damning for, broadly speaking, American Protestants (for American Catholics, the soteriological danger comes in believing that one can be justified by faith and works -- it's a whole other mindset that leads to a different set of problems).

Bobby Protestant might say, "I have believed. I am saved." And then after comforting himself with that thought, Bobby fires up his laptop to view some more sexually explicit material; he's completely disconnected from the idea that sin is death, and that freedom in Christ means freedom from sin. He has no desire to pluck his eyes out. Listen to John Piper:

So I have learned again and again from firsthand experience that there are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the warnings of the Bible and puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of biblical threats. And this doctrine is comforting thousands on the way to hell.

Jesus said, if you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven.

The stakes are much higher than whether the world is blown up by a thousand bombs. If you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven.

"If you don't fight lust, you won't go to heaven." Wow! Those words came out of the mouth of someone who believes in Perseverance of the Saints. He almost sounds like a UPC preacher exhorting holiness or hell, but the distinction is that he's not saying you can lose your salvation, he's saying that if you don't fight sin with bloody intensity, then you never had salvation to begin with.

The good news in all of this is we don't have to do anything apart from God's grace, and indeed we can't do anything apart from His grace. For, as Titus 2:11 & 12 says, "The grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age," and as Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

Follow Him. Treasure Him. Then die, go to heaven and be with Him -- forever.


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Comments on "How Do I Know I'm Saved?":
1. Damon - 10/10/2010 10:03 am CDT

My wife and I have had this discussion a few times... and let me just restate it plainly: you are saying that it if a Christian falls into serious sin, then it's likely they were never a believer to begin with? That seems a little...something, not self-serving, but... if they truly felt like they have trusted Christ and served him, then fell away, isn't that a little convenient to say they never believed? I have a brother who comes quickly to my mind in this example.

2. Brian in Fresno - 10/10/2010 10:21 am CDT

I needed to hear this, Bird. Thank you.

3. Bird - 10/10/2010 11:55 am CDT

Hi, Damon. I think there's room for backsliding and "returning to faith," so to speak, but I think the Bible teaches that Christians will remain faithful in the end. As John says in John 1, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us."

Brian, thanks! Love you, brother.

4. ruben - 10/11/2010 11:17 am CDT

It is quite paradoxical: faith and works. The Catholic position is that your works come from God not yourself so it's not too far from what John Piper says.

5. Ugo - 10/14/2010 8:28 am CDT

We are indeed saved by faith and works, as faith and works are two sides of the same coin. Faith inspires Works, and works are faith in practice.

But does that mean- or does the Catholic Church teach- that u must stack up a number of works (like working hours) to qualify for salvation, that we must keep a record of our deeds? far from it. Love doesn't keep count of what love does, but love can only be expressed by deeds.

So it is the love, ultimately, that makes meaning of our good works. without it, we are nothing but Pharisees

6. Alejandra - 10/19/2010 1:45 pm CDT
7. Barb - 04/25/2011 10:14 pm CDT

If you were living next door to David, you would have him going to hell. And as far as finishing, there is a sin unto death. He was talking to belivers.

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