Question: How do you truly know that you are a Christian?

The other day I was listening to a Christian radio podcast. The radio host stated that, “a person does not have to ask Jesus in their hearts to become a Christian… It is heretical. It leads to false converts and should should not be used when leading people to Christ?”

This has kind of bugged me since I heard the statement. The reason is that when I was 10 years old that is what I did to become a Christian. It is generational, from my grandparents to my parents to me. So my question is, How do you truly know that you are a Christian? What does that look like? I’ve been questioning my own salvation - I asked Jesus in my heart, does that mean I am not a Christian anymore; how do you lead others to Christ; and what must I do for salvation?

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If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9,10

We invite Jesus to be Lord of our lives. That means placing our trust in Him. I gave Him my heart which was dirty and filthy and offered it to Him to nail to the cross. In exchange He gave me His heart in the Holy Spirit and I am becoming more like Him. Think about what the word LORD means. We allow Jesus to be LORD of our life. We are called to be a living sacrifice to Him. He gave His life for me and now I am called to give my life to Him.

How do you know? Just close your eyes and ask Jesus to take your sins and to give you a new heart. Place your life in His hands. Begin a relationship with the creator of the world. By faith you have been saved. But saved unto good works.

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Hi Robyn @RobynH. What a great question. This is one the most important questions off all times, in my opinion. I always say to new comers, “Dont rush and say I believe and I trust you Lord.” I tell them take your time to get to know God and answer for themselves why they would put their trust in him.
The reason I say that is because as replied above, it is crucial that you accept and trust Jesus as your Lord and savior and confess it with you mouth, but that has to be genuine from the heart. If you ask me, not having knowledge of who God is or not having answered the “why’s” of life can and will impede your ability to be genuine.

Now how do you know someones faith in Christ is genuine. Well, a true faith bears fruits of good works. Someone born again is a new creation in Christ. The old is dead and the new is here. We should not go to our old ways. No one can meet the true Jesus and know him and not be a changed person. That’s how you know you are a Christian. Christian in the 1st century meant martyrdom. It’s to the point of death. Now that is trust. Dont get me wrong, I am not saying you cant fail and repent, but we have to be different in the way we say things and lead our lives. It is not easy but as he said, when we abide in him, everything is possible.

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 25: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the [c]holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

But the cool thing is you are here on Connect asking this questions and seeking God. You can answer those questions to yourself and continue to grow in Christ.

I hope that helps.
God Bless.

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Hello Robyn! This is such a good question. I think the best thing to do is to look at what scripture has to say about being saved. There are so many passages that talk about it and I’ve copied a few verses so you can get a good idea of the different ways it is spoken of in the Bible. I think the bottom line is to remember that we are not saved by our works but by God’s grace, and it is in our hearts that we accept the gift. There is no ritual, no special words to recite, but just accept the gift. In our hearts we will feel repentance when we choose to accept salvation. And later we will declare To others our decision to accept Christ. You know you are saved because you have repented and accepted God’s gift of salvation. Jesus, or His Spirit, comes into our hearts when we have been saved. You can certainly ask Him to, or not, it doesn’t matter how you do it or say it, we are not given a specific formula of words, but as long as you accept the gift of salvation it is yours and Christ’s righteousness is credited to you. His blood washes you clean.

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭16:30-34‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
‭‭John‬ ‭5:24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭16:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””
‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:38‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭22:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.””
‭‭John‬ ‭11:25-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Here is a link to a conversation in Connect about how we know we are saved:

I hope some of this helps! This topic is on so many minds and can be confusing but I feel like just reading what scripture has to say about it really helps. :blush:

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Oh, @RobynH - I am so sorry that someone has disturbed you by saying that it is heretical to ask Jesus into your heart - or that it leads to false converts. I have heard this before - people saying that the Bible nowhere talks about asking Christ into your heart. Actually, Paul himself prayed for the Ephesians that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith in Ephesians 3:17.

Sometimes I think people get a bit carried away by insisting too particularly about how one phrases their trust in Christ. There are many ways you can word the concept, but the wording itself isn’t really the issue. Trusting Christ’s death to pay the penalty for your sins, trusting His resurrection to raise you to new life, that’s really all salvation is.

Now, your specific question was how to know that you’re really saved - what does genuine salvation look like.

Well, the little letter of I John was specifically written to answer that very question. I John 5:13 says, These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life…

As you go through the letter, you’ll keep seeing phrases like hereby we know that we know him and hereby know we that we are in him and hereby we know that he abideth in us and so on.

So what are these things that he keeps saying we know we’re saved by?

Well, there are three tests that he keeps repeating throughout the book over and over. They are:

True Christians walk in the light
True Christians love the brethren
True Christians believe the truth

When he says that true Christians walk in the light (and that’s phrased in various ways in the book), he means that their lifestyle is moving toward God (He is the Light - 1:5). Do you genuinely desire to please and honor God by your life? Do you want to obey His word? Are you truly grieved when you sin. If so, then you pass this test. But remember, we’re talking about direction, not perfection. If you’re moving toward the light, you still may stumble - every child learning to walk does. But you’re stumbling toward the light!

When he says that true Christians love the brethren, that doesn’t mean that our Christian brethren won’t ever get on our nerves, or us on theirs. We’re all works in progress, and learning to love as God does is the hardest thing we’ll ever do. It’ll take a lifetime, and we’ll never get it down perfectly. But can you truly say that Christians who love Christ are the kind of people you most want to be with? Are you more comfortable with godly Christians than you are with worldly minded people? If so, then you pass the love test.

And when he says that true Christians believe the truth, he’s talking about the truth concerning Who Christ is and what He did to save us. Christians may differ on many peripheral things, so obviously not everything we believe is true. And Christians may change their minds on things like baptism or predestination or charismatic gifts or eternal security, etc.

But a true Christian will never really change his mind about Jesus being the virgin born, sinless Son of God Who died on the cross and rose again for our salvation - or that faith in His gospel is the only condition for a repentant sinner to be saved. If you can truly say that you believe these essential things about Who Jesus is and what He did to save us, then you’ve passed the belief test.

And as a footnote, I’ll just add that salvation is really an all or nothing proposition. Either a person really is a Christian and he passes all the tests, or he’s really not a Christian and he passes none of them. There’s no such thing as being partly Christian and passing one or two. So if you pass any of these tests, it naturally follows that you pass them all.

That verse I mentioned back at the start - I John 5:13 - these things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life - it ends by saying, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

In other words, if someone sees that they really don’t pass these tests, then John’s secondary purpose for writing the letter is so that they truly will believe on the name of the Son of God and then they’ll begin passing them after all.

I truly hope that these thoughts will bring you peace.

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I would like to add to @jlyons response with how I respond to those who state you can lose your salvation due to Free Will. Know that what I write here is not doctrinal (though I believe it is supported by Scripture), but rather it is a picture or painting of what happens at Salvation. I believe that while you are Saved by Grace through Faith and thus salvation is all from God, there is giving yourself to The Lord that takes place. And in this giving yourself you give permission to God to use all His Power to keep you and never allow you to separate yourself from God. It is in the giving of yourself that you exercised your Free Will and God accepts this as a covenant between you and God. You exercised your part of the Covenant by freely giving yourself to God. He exercises His Part of the Covenant by using all His Power to ensure that you never separate from Him. Bottom Line: You have God Almighty guaranteeing you that you will never leave Him and He will never leave you. It cannot get better than that.
Dan

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I was also told (by a Seminary professor!) that asking Christ into your heart was not biblical. I was comforted by Paul’s testimony in Galatians: “(God was pleased) to reveal his Son IN me” (Gal 1:15 NIV). I also believe that Christ paid the penalty for all of our sins - past, present, and future. We are saved by God’s grace plus nothing and we receive that salvation through faith - the outstretched hands willing to receive the free gift.

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Dion
I would like to make a small correction. Eph 2:8-9 states we are Saved by Grace through Faith rather than Saved by Faith. This small but rather important distinction is important because Saved by Faith implies (and only implies not state factually) a work. There is little distinction for The Evangelist who emphasizes that Salvation is a Free Gift (Grace), but for The Apologist the distinction is important as it removes any implication of Works of any type providing Salvation.

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Dan, I agree completely. If you look at my comment again you will see that I wrote that we are saved by grace plus nothing. However, I do believe that we must receive that free gift with the hands of faith. Otherwise, I would be a universalist believing that everyone is saved whether they want to be or not. Or are you saying that you are a universalist?

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