How Do I Know If I’m Saved?

By:
Dean Inserra
Perspective:
header for How Do I Know If I’m Saved?

Before Jesus gave the Cultural Christian the chastising words of Matthew 7:21–23, He talked about fruit:

“In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name? ’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matt. 7:17–23)

The way we can know if we are not the people in Matthew 7:21–23, is to make sure we are the fruitful trees of Matthew 7:17–20. Jesus is not advocating for a works-based salvation, but rather for the evidence of an actual saving faith. Even as an eight-year-old little boy, I knew the tree in the backyard was a grapefruit tree because I saw grapefruits. I climbed the ladder and pulled them off the tree myself. What are the fruits we should see in our lives that demonstrate we aren’t the people Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7?

Seven Fruit of Saving Faith

The way we can know if we are not the people in Matthew 7:21–23, is to make sure we are the fruitful trees of Matthew 7:17–20. Jesus is not advocating for a works-based salvation, but rather for the evidence of an actual saving faith. Even as an eight-year-old little boy, I knew the tree in the backyard was a grapefruit tree because I saw grapefruits. I climbed the ladder and pulled them off the tree myself. What are the fruits we should see in our lives that demonstrate we aren’t the people Jesus was talking about in Matthew 7?

1. A Life of Repentance

“Christians don’t believe the lie that there is more to be gained by disobeying God than there is to be gained by obeying Him.”

John Calvin wrote that “repentance is not merely the start of the Christian life; it is the Christian life.” A genuine Christian sees one’s personal sin the way God sees it, as rebellion against Him. In His grace, God does not lead us to repentance with a judge’s gavel, but through His kindness (Rom. 2:4). He points us to what has been accomplished through Christ for our redemption and reconciliation to Himself. As a result, we should respond with honesty about the state of our hearts and seek to reject sin by God’s power. Written to believers, 1 John 1:8–9 shows us this posture: “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

2. Eternally Minded

T. D. Alexander explained the eternally minded fruit of Christian belief when he wrote, “Faith in the resurrected Son of God gives us confidence to trust that this life is but the prelude to something more wonderful.”1 Christians don’t believe the lie that there is more to be gained by disobeying God than there is to be gained by obeying Him. We know that this world is not our home, so therefore our loyalties are not for this world, “for we do not have an enduring city here; instead, we seek the one to come” (Heb. 13:14).

3. Sound Doctrine

Scott Swain says that, “sound doctrine delivers us from the snare of false teaching.” There is a rotten kind of fruit that can be detected in a non-regenerate person and that is believing, holding to, and teaching, a false gospel. Paul was so serious about the significance of sound doctrine that much of his New Testament letters consisted of instructing the church to make it an absolute priority. He instructed Titus that every elder must hold “to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9).

4. Spiritual Disciplines

“Let us strive to know the Lord” (Hos. 6:3). Christians care about knowing Jesus more, which comes through spiritual disciplines designed for growth. Peter wrote to the church that “like newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow up into your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). The first Christians in the book of Acts “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). These were means God provided to help the believers to grow in their faith and affections for God.

5. Generosity

Jesus spoke with complete clarity on money, proclaiming that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). My heart is far from Christ if I am not living generously with regard to my financial resources. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that God “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). A fruitful Christian loves what God loves, and the Scriptures are clear that generosity is near to the heart and character of God.

6. Heart for the Lost

Jesus told the scribes and religious rulers who did not understand why He spent so much time with sinners that a shepherd would leave ninety-nine sheep to go find one who was missing. A person coming to faith in Christ is the very thing that causes angels to rejoice in heaven (Luke 15:1–7). If we desire to be more like Jesus, it is more, but certainly not less, than having a heart for those who need His salvation. A heart for the lost shows an awareness of our realization of our own stories of receiving the grace of Christ. Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and if we are in Christ, we will display the fruit of that same desire in our own lives.

7. Love for God and His Church

Jesus tells us that we show love for Him by obeying His commands (John 14:15). But we also see descriptions throughout Scripture of adoring God, praising Him, relishing in His grace. A maturing heart in Christ will grow more and more loving as it beholds our loving God. We also seek to love what God loves: His glory and His church. We see calls to continuously spur one another on to good works (Heb. 10:24), to only speak what benefits others (Eph. 4:29), to consider others more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), and to do good to all people, especially our Christian brothers and sisters (Gal. 6:10). The Psalms are full of adoring praises to God and the New Testament epistles are full of guidelines for interpersonal relations within the body of believers. Both elevate love and consideration above selfishness.

Cultural Christians bear fruit of this world, not fruits that are driven by belief in the good news of Jesus Christ. They may resemble the tree from my grandfather’s backyard, but have never actually grown grapefruits, because they aren’t grapefruit trees at all. Let us pray for a true, saving faith in Christ Jesus as our all-sufficient substitute and for the fruit made possible only by the Spirit’s transformation of our hearts. Let us come humbly to our God and ask that He continue in us what He started when we first heard His name, knowing that He is faithful to do it.

For Further Reading:

The Unsaved Christian

by Dean Inserra

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