Regardless of the subject, one of the most difficult questions someone can ask is, “How do you know?” This question applies to just about anything. Often times we make assertions about all sorts of things and someone will respond, “How do you know?” Some people explain, “That’s just the way it is.” For some, myself included, that is a poor response. There simply has to be an explanation. Particularly, “How do you know?” is a question I’m often asked in pastoral counseling. The other Vintage Pastors and I often meet with people who want to know the answer to one question: “How can I know that I am saved?” Without a doubt, there is no more important question.
A few years ago, one of Vintage’s friends and former staff members, Luke Johnson, wrote a short document entitled “The 5 Tests of Biblical Salvation.” At that time, Vintage Church was walking through the book of 1 John and, as we did that, Luke noticed that there were 5 “tests” of biblical salvation in the book that can help discern whether or not one has a true, genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Over the next five weeks we are going to walk through those 5 tests and answer the question, “How can I know that I am saved?”
Test #1: What Is My Relationship to Jesus Christ?
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:5-6).
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, 5 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 2:3-6).
Throughout the New Testament, salvation is described as repenting of sin and placing faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Ultimately, you and I can only have a relationship with Jesus when we repent of our sin and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, though we may logically understand the process of salvation, we often wonder how we can tangibly and personally answer the question, “What is my relationship to Jesus Christ?”
The apostle John answers that question in his first letter. First, John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him (Jesus) while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). Secondly, he says, “by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). What does John say in these two verses? Love for Jesus equals obedience to Jesus. If Jesus has saved you then you will love Jesus and if you love Jesus and have a relationship with him you will obey him.
Are You Obeying Jesus?
So, are you obeying Jesus? While we are not saved by the works we do and the way we live our lives, our obedience to Jesus is fruit of our relationship with him, meaning it flows from us as a natural sign of our salvation. Because we love Jesus, we obey him, and our obedience is evidence of our relationships with him. Trees bear fruit. Healthy trees bear healthy fruit and unhealthy trees bear unhealthy fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). If you know and love Jesus, are you obeying him? Are you living your life according to his way?
For some of you, obedience is the furthest thing from your mind. You cannot be obedient to Jesus because you do not know him and do not have a relationship with him. Have you ever repented of your sin and trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior? To have a relationship with Jesus you must repent and believe. If you have never done this, there is no reason you can’t do it now. If you want to have a relationship with Jesus, repent of your sin and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then, because we love Jesus, may we obey him.