One question that nearly all church members ask is: “How can I be sure of my salvation”? There are two important tests in Scripture for a person to determine whether or not he or she is a true believer.
1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God? (John 1:1-5, 14)
2. Have you actually received the Holy Spirit? (Acts 19:2)
Test No. 1: Ask yourself if you totally believe the Scripture's record of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Do you believe that He is God manifest in the flesh? Do you believe that God saves sinners solely through the life, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? Now remember that believing is more than just giving lip service. Real belief is living your life in complete obedience to the Word of God.
Test No. 2: Ask yourself, "Have I received the Holy Spirit into my life? Does the Lord Jesus Christ actually live inside of me? Does He control my conduct, conversations and choices? Is He the top priority in my daily life? Have I completely surrendered my thoughts, actions, appetites, desires and ambitions to Him?”
Church attendance and membership is not enough to qualify as a true believer. Even some agnostics attend church faithfully. Just believing that there is a God does not make one a true believer. The demons believe in God and even tremble. (James 2:19)
The epistle of 1 John was written to give true believers assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13). John gives several marks to distinguish a true believer. These are:
* True believers have the Holy Spirit ( 4:13; 5:10-11) . “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:3) Is there evidence that the fruit of the Spirit is present in your life? (Galatians 5:22-23)?
* True believers confess their sin (1 John 1:8-2:1, Psalm 51) 1 John 1:9 -10 (NLT) 9) But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. 10) If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
Confess here doesn't mean to recite every wrong that we have ever done. Rather, it means to repent, be genuinely contrite over our sin and return to God. That means that true believers hate their sin; they don't enjoy it, nor do they desire to keep committing sin. True believers do not abuse grace! King David’s prayer sums it up best:
Psalm 51:2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 17 (NLT) 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. 3 For I recognize my shameful deeds they haunt me day and night. 6 But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 10Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. 17The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.
* True believers keep His commandments 1 John 2:3-6 (NLT) 3And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By obeying his commandments. 4If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 5But those who obey God’s word really do love him. That is the way to know whether or not we live in him. 6Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did.
The term here refers to a watchful, observant obedience. Here the believer desires to obey the truth. It involves a proactive approach to obedience to God’s Word. The Believer studies Scripture in order to know it and obey it.