By Shawn Lazar
How do I know that I am trusting in Jesus to save me? I am worried if I was to die, I’d find out that I was believing something else. I guess I get a bit confused because I was raised believing that if someone is truly saved, he will have a changed life, and I have experienced a changed life such as a hatred for sin and desire to be in fellowship with other believers.
Thanks for the question. How do you know that you’re trusting in Jesus to save you? I’m not surprised that you were taught to look to your works for the answer. “How do you know? Look at your works!” In other words, you’re supposed to know if you’re trusting Jesus to save you if your behavior has changed. Predictably, that has left you with worries and doubts.
Other traditions teach people to look to their participation in the sacraments. “How do you know that you’re saved? Well, you were baptized as a baby!” Or “You take communion!” But those same traditions will say that baptized people can end up in hell, and some who take communion are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
So let me give you a different answer. You know that you’re trusting in Jesus to save you if you have assurance of everlasting life.
Let me explain.
A Promise with a Condition
Jesus’ promise of everlasting life is conditional. If you meet the condition, then what He promises is true of you. In this case, if you believe, then you have everlasting life. Think of it as a syllogism:
Whoever believes in Jesus has everlasting life (cf. John 6:47).
I believe in Jesus.
Therefore, I have everlasting life.
That conclusion is the answer to your question. “How do I know that I am trusting in Jesus to save me?” Well, you know you’re trusting Jesus to save you if you believe that He has given you everlasting life, just as He promised. If you doubt that, then you aren’t trusting Him. If you’re putting your faith in anything else (such as in your behavior), then you aren’t trusting Him, either.
If you aren’t sure you have eternal life based on Jesus’ promise to give that life to you, then you aren’t believing in Him to save you.
Continuous Assurance Not Necessary to Salvation
Now, to be clear, all it takes to be saved is one act of faith. If you have ever believed in Jesus for everlasting life in the past, then you are bornagain and secure forever, whether or not you have assurance right now. But if you want to have continuous assurance—assurance right now, and for the rest of your life—then keep on believing His promise of everlasting life.
How to Be Convinced
But let me take it a step further. You might really be asking, “I know what He promised—but please convince me to believe in Jesus’ promise!” That might be the real issue. In which case, here’s my advice:
First, make sure you understand what Jesus promised. You can’t believe in Jesus for salvation if you’re unclear about what kind of salvation He offers and upon what conditions He offers it. Since there are so many false gospels out there, you should make sure you can distinguish between what is false and what is true. Who knows what kind of mental and spiritual baggage you might have? That baggage will keep you from assurance. When you’re clear on what Jesus promised, then you’ll be able to believe in Him for it.
Second, keep reading about the life of Jesus. Meditate upon His acts and miracles and teachings. Can Jesus really give you everlasting life just like that? Can you trust Him to do it? Eventually,
I believe the life of Jesus, which is full of “signs,” will convince you that His promise is true. You’ll believe that Jesus is both trustworthy and fully able to fulfill His promise of everlasting life to you.
Shawn Lazar is Director of Publications for Grace Evangelical Society.