By: Gary L. Hutchens
The apostle John wrote: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…” (1 Jn. 5:13). What a wonderful assurance! A follow-up question would be, “but on what basis can I truly know that I am saved?” The standard John gave was “you who believe in the name of the Son of God.” But many people intellectually believe in Jesus while not living faithfully to Him. Jesus stated, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” the sense being, “if you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Jn. 14:15). Obviously, obedience plays a vital part in what John describes as believing in the name of the Son of God.
The apostle Paul gives further insight as to how we can be assured of our salvation. He wrote, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). But how does the Holy “Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”? Many people rely on some feeling they interpret as assurance that they are saved. Is that what Paul was talking about? A feeling? How does the Spirit bear witness with our spirit?
The Hebrews writer helps provide the answer to our question: “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, ‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,’ then He adds, ‘Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’” (Heb. 10:15-17). The writer identifies this passage as coming from the Holy Spirit. Yet it was penned as scripture by the prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 31:33-34). In quoting this passage the Hebrews writer states that “the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us.” Obviously it is through scripture that the Holy Spirit “bears witness,” or “witnesses to us,”.
When we read passages from scripture that pertain to our salvation, and we know that we have obeyed the teachings conveyed in those scriptures, then we can “know” that we are saved. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23). When many of the Jews on Pentecost, in response to the gospel message that had just been proclaimed to them, asked what they needed to do, Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).
When we properly obey Peter’s instruction to “be baptized…for the remission of sins” we can be assured that God has forgiven our sins. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). When we are correctly baptized into Christ, we can “know” that we “have eternal life.”
We can know these things, be assured of them, when we know that we have obeyed what the scriptures teach on these matters. Since the Holy Spirit guides us through scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21), then as we know that we have obeyed the teachings of God’s word, the Holy Spirit bears witness, through those very scriptures, with our spirit that we are children of God, that we are saved…
Gary L. Hutchens