Am I Saved?
Do you ever ask yourself that question with all seriousness and thought? You should. Listen to Jesus words in Matthew 7,
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
The Puritans had a strict set of steps that people must go through to be assured or true salvation, rather than simply a emotional religious experience. These steps were: awakening, humiliation, and regeneration. Let me say more about each.
Awakening has to do with a person coming to a realization of their frailty, mortality, and the looming reality of eternity before them. This is why there was so much emphasis in Puritan preaching on sin and hell. Before a person could be saved they needed to be made aware, or awakened, to the existence of hell, their guilt due to sin, and the need for salvation to avoid going there.
Humiliation is that aspect of the salvation process where individuals are face-to-face with the horrific nature of their sins before God. It was not enough to acknowledge your sinfulness, you must also be humbled by it. Some Puritans described this state as involving a sense of terror at the realization of one's depravity before God's holiness.
Regeneration involves the infusion (by God's grace and the Holy Spirit) of a new heart inside a person. Only through the regenerating 'light' of Jesus could a person truly repent of their sins and receive the gift of faith. The, through the power of the Spirit dwelling within them, a person would begin to walk a life of holiness and piety.
Many people today would reject these rigid steps. Their answer to the question, "Am I saved?" would be, on the surface at least, a confident yes. But the follow up question, "How do you know?" would be much more difficult to answer. You might get replies like, "I go to church," "I prayed a prayer," "I give to the poor" or, "I am a good person." The Puritans would reject these trite answers and deeply worry at the eternal state of the replying individual's soul.
So, back to you and me. "Am I saved?" How do you know? How you answer the following questions might guide you to some clarity and either confidence or concern over your salvation.
1. Do I have a desire to live like Jesus lived?
2. Do I have a desire to know Jesus more deeply? Am I acting on that desire?
3. Does my marriage reflect my love for Jesus?
4. Does my checkbook reflect my love for Jesus?
5. Do I show Christ's love to my neighbors, strangers, co-workers, peers?
6. Am I increasingly ridding myself of sinful thoughts/attitudes/behaviors?
7. Does the way I spend my free time reflect my love for Jesus?
8. Am I growing in peace, patience and hope or anxiousness, worry and fear?
9. Am I committed to a local body of fellow believers?
10. Am I aware of my daily sins on commission (what I consciously do) and omission (what I am not doing but should be)?
11. What is the last sin I needed to repent of?
12. Am I increasingly free from the love of the world?
13. Does my life show a desire for the approval of man or God?
14. If everything was taken away from me, would Jesus be enough?
15. Is the totality of my life oriented around experiencing and reflecting the glory and goodness of God?