How do I know if I’m really a Christian?
That’s an eternally important question, and yet, sadly, it’s one that many Christians struggle to answer. They may not realize that it’s possible to have assurance, or perhaps they’re looking for assurance in the wrong places or in the wrong ways. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in the dark when it comes to our standing before Him. He wants His children to know that they belong to Him, which is one of the reasons He gave us the book of 1 John.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
This brief yet penetrating book gives us evidences of eternal life to look for in our lives. Seeing these evidences should bring assurance and joy to God’s children, which is one of the reasons we’re providing a new (free) resource titled 1 John: Love Made Known Bible Study, At the same time, 1 John offers a much-needed warning to those who lack these evidences of eternal life. It is entirely possible to think that things are okay between you and God when, in reality, you don’t actually have eternal life. There are likely many people in our churches today who fit that description. (Is that you?) Of all the things to be deceived about, nothing could be worse than being deceived about where you will spend eternity.
Finding a Firm Foundation
The book of 1 John, as well as many other parts of Scripture, teaches that the lives of God’s children should look different from the world. However, this causes some professing Christians to worry about their standing with God because they don’t know how different they should look. Others assume that their standing before God is secure even though they have little or no desire to obey God. To be clear, no follower of Christ is without sin, so we should not expect anything close to sinless perfection prior to Christ’s return. At the same time, those who profess Christ as their Savior and Lord should be characterized by obedience and an increasing hatred of sin.
Since eternity is at stake, we need to have a firm foundation for our assurance. Consider the false foundations for assurance listed below and identify any that you may be relying on for your standing before God. Remember, these aren’t bad things, but they don’t necessarily indicate that someone possesses eternal life in Christ:
False Foundations for Assurance
- Religious heritage: growing up in a Christian home or attending a Christian school
- Church involvement: regularly attending and serving in the church
- A moral lifestyle: trying to be a good person and to live with integrity
- Intellectual knowledge: knowing the facts of the gospel
- Active ministry: serving others sacrificially or participating in church programs
- A guilty conscience: feeling bad when you do something wrong
- Positive thinking: being sincere in your beliefs and assuming that you are right
- A past decision: remembering a time, place, feeling, or experience when you think you became a Christian
Again, these “false foundations” are not inherently bad, but it is dangerous to base our assurance on them. Gratefully, Scripture gives us true foundations for our assurance. The questions below can help us determine whether we truly possess eternal life:
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Source: Church Leaders