Picking up on some earlier discussion, I came across this list of ways that a person can know whether or not they have been truly saved. They are from a book by Jim Wilson entitled (ironically, it seems to me) Assurance of Salvation:
1. The Holy Spirit seals, guarantees, and assures us (1 Jn. 4:13, Rom. 8:16-17, Eph. 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 5:5, 1 Cor. 2:11-16).
2. Change of Character: read the lists of the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19-25. Which list characterizes you? Jesus saves out of the first list into the second.
3. Confessing Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3, Rom. 10:9-10, Lk. 6:45).
4. Obedience: People who are saved obey Jesus (1 Jn. 3:6, 3:9-10, 5:18, 2:3).
5. Discipline: If you are getting away with disobedience, you are not a child of God. If you are being disciplined, pay attention and repent (Heb. 12:5-11).
6. Loving Christians: People who have passed from death to life love the brothers and it’s obvious to everyone (1 Jn. 3:14, Jn. 13:34-35).
7. Loving Enemies: Sinners can act with civility; saints are enabled to imitate their Father in heaven (Lk. 6:27-36).
8. Jesus said so: If you hear the word of Jesus and believe in Him, then you have eternal life, you have crossed from death to life (Jn. 5:24).
The poster, Toby Sumpter, to his credit, adds Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to the list, but Heaven help us! People aren’t sure whether or not they are Christians? It’s not enough to, you know, have faith in Jesus?
I realize that Christians who don’t think the sacraments do anything have to make check -off lists, but how horrible! I want to ask those who go by a list like this, how are you doing with these? Has your character been changed enough? How’s your discipline? How are you getting along with your fellow Christians? How are you getting along with your enemies?
Doesn’t this circle right back to salvation by works? Can this formula for attaining “assurance” do anything but drive an honest Christian to despair?
That can only be a good thing if it drives you to the Cross of Jesus Christ, who has done all of this for you!
The problem with such exercises is that they end up DESTROYING faith, whereas faith is exactly what those who are struggling with such questions need. That is to say, MORE trust, confidence, assurance in the Gospel of what Christ has freely done for them.