Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com
This Bible study is about testing salvation (yours). From time to time we all have doubts as to whether or not we are really saved – or are just deluding ourselves. Maybe you have received Christ, committed sin, and thought you were lost for sure. Maybe you just don’t feel saved, or think you are not a real Christian.
It is ok to examine your faith. Paul wrote, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
There is good news – actually, great news. John told us, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Wow! Then, how do you proceed in testing salvation? That is next.
Here are seven tests you can use to determine if you are a Christian. Remember, that to become a Christian we place our faith in Christ alone for our salvation, and are born again (John 1:12, 13; 3:16). Our sins are forgiven, and we receive eternal life. This is a permanent, inalterable feature of salvation.
Just like an apple tree produces apples, our Christian life gradually begins to show itself in our lives in distinctive ways. Turn with me in your Bible, and we will see those marks of Christian life.
Remember, however, these are subjective exercises for you in testing your salvation. That is, you look honestly into your own heart to see if these qualities are present. Don’t use them in testing salvation in others. We cannot look into other people’s hearts. Finally, these are general patterns of our Christian experience. We will have our ups and downs in our lives, but are these signs consistent over a period of time? That is the issue.
Testing Salvation: Faith in Christ
Look into your heart, and determine if you are trusting Christ alone as you Savior. John wrote, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:1a, 11, 12).
I recall that before I was a Christian, I trusted everything but Christ for salvation. People trust their good works, philosophy, morality, church membership, other gods and religions – and the list goes on. We must trust Christ alone. He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).
Testing Salvation: Love For Christ
Christians are in a very personal relationship with Christ that is marked by love. Jesus said, “If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:42). Again, you take a good look into your heart, and determine if you have a tender, fond, committed love for Jesus Christ. Only you can look into your heart – except for God.
I know in my heart that I love Esmie, my wife. She is not a stranger to me. I am not ashamed of her, I am proud of her, and have a deep fondness for her – and I like to be with her. She is my best friend. It is the same with Jesus: do you love Him? That is the test.
Testing Salvation: Holy Spirit Witness
When we become a Christian, our spirits are regenerated, or made alive by the Holy Spirit. He also comes to dwell within us. In that process, He makes known to us in a subjective way that we are Christians.
Paul wrote, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16; cf. 1 John 5:5-7, 10). This is an inner experience of awareness or knowing.
Testing Salvation: Practice Righteousness
Here we move from the inner, subjective measure of our salvation to more outer, objective things. John wrote, “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments…you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:3, 29).
If we explore Scripture, we can find out what those commandments are. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:27-39; cf. John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17).
To practice righteousness does not mean we are perfect and only do perfect things. It means that the inclination and choices in our heart is toward God, and we desire to please Him because we love Him.
Testing Salvation: Love of Christians
John wrote, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14; cf. John 13:35). The world in general hates Jesus Christ and His followers (John 15:18, 19).
I recall in my own life that before I received Christ as my Savior, I hated Christians. I would mock them, and say downright nasty things to and about them. My mind was so twisted, that I thought Christians were the bad people, and everyone else was righteous. I still have twinges of shame.
However, a very strange thing happened to me when I accepted Christ. I started liking the very people I had previously intensely disliked. Amazing! I even started going to church and hanging out with Christians. Can you believe this: my very best friends are now Christians! My attitude reversed.
Testing Salvation: Victory Over the World
John wrote, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4; cf. 4:4-6).
What this means is that we have switched value systems and the way we perceive life. The things that are so important to the world are less important to us now. We can see things differently, because we view them from God’s point of view.
When we face death, sickness, trauma, and threat in this world, we realize there is more – God. We can trust Him, and we know He is in control of history, world events, and what happens after this life (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Testing Salvation: Sin
This is a tough one, so read carefully. John wrote, “We know that no one who is born of God sins” (1 John 5:18). He does not mean that Christians will never sin. Otherwise why would he say earlier, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8)? He even goes on to tell us to confess our sins, which cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
The secret is in the tense of the Greek verb (hamartanei). It is in the present tense, which means continual, habitual patterns of heart attitude and behavior. You and I may backslide, maybe several times, but the general pattern of our lives will be toward becoming like Christ.
The Holy Spirit will bring about change (sometimes abrupt, but generally gradual) in our lives, because we are born again to a new life force. Old patterns of sin will gradually diminish and be replaced with godly patterns of living.
However, it is important to realize God is full of grace toward us, and will forgive. He has not abandoned us. Otherwise you and I will lose hope, because we still sin. Sin has serious consequences, but we will long become tired of our sin before God becomes tired of us. He has invested a great deal in you, and He will complete His work in you (Philippians 1:6).
With this, Esmie and I hope you will find comfort and encouragement in this study. We desire that by testing salvation (your own), you will experience a deeper degree of delight and assurance in your relationship to Christ. All the best.
Dr. Willis and Esmie Newman
BIBLE STUDY QUESTIONS
1. Do you think you are a Christian? Is it possible to know for sure? Explain.
2. In your own words, explain how 1 John 5:1, 11, 12 relates to testing salvation.
3. How does John 8:42 work out in a practical way in your life?
4. In testing salvation, how would you explain in your own experience Romans 8:16?
5. How does 1 John 2:3, 29 relate to testing salvation?
6. Why do you suppose the world hates Jesus Christ and His people? How does this express itself?
7. Explain how John 13:35 relates to your own life in testing salvation.
Give 3 practical examples of how you can apply the teaching.
8. How does 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 relate to overcoming the world? Explain.
9. Explain in your own life how to think about and deal with your personal sin in
light of 1 John 5:18; 3:7—2:2. List at least five principles.
10. Do you love Jesus Christ? Why? List 3 reasons for your answer.
11. What stands out to you the most in this study on testing salvation? Explain.
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