from our ministry
That I May Know
Recently I was in a Bible study where I heard someone say, “It is possible to be a Christian and not know that you are a Christian.” Immediately my ears perked up! Yes, as hard-of-hearing as I am, I did not miss that comment! Was I hearing correctly? So, I asked for clarification and what I heard was actually what I heard.
Honestly, I struggle with that statement! How is it possible for a person to be saved and not know that they are saved? Maybe God is in the business of saving people and hiding it from them. That seems to be the implications of the statement, but it is far from the truth. Or maybe people who say this simply do not believe God! It is God who said, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved!” (Romans 10:9), and “I make known to you … the gospel … which also you received, in which also you stand, by which you are saved” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Those are God’s clear words!
I understand that Satan can tempt a Believer to doubt their salvation, but that is far different than saying a person can be saved and not know it. I think it was D.L. Moody when asked how he knew he was saved, responded by saying, “I know I am saved because I was there when it happened!” We smile at that, but it is true. It is impossible to be saved without knowing it! Why? Because salvation is a transaction (horrible word) between an individual and God. It is individual and personal. It requires a recognition of a personal problem called sin, and a personal acceptance of God’s provision and remedy for our sin. There is a personal interaction between a person and God; how can that happen and a person not know it? I emphasize the word “personal” because no one else can do it for the individual. It is personal, therefore it will be known.
God’s Word declares that a person who is saved will know that they are saved. The Apostle John wrote, “These things I have written [in 1 John] to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13). In other words, John is declaring that a person who “believes” (has exercised faith) in the Son of God (Jesus Christ) can “know” (know factually) that they “have” (continually) eternal life (the life of Christ).
The word “know” is important. It is the Greek word oida which means “to know someone or something through reflective thinking”. In other words, it is factual knowledge that is learned through thinking. This kind of knowledge for us would be 2+2=4. Therefore, we “know”, oida, that we are saved because we were there when it happened; we participated in the process!
What was the process? First we recognized that we were a sinner (not only in acts, but by nature), and we were under the condemnation of God (Romans 5:18) as the Holy Spirit “convicted” us of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). Secondly, we believed (exercised faith) in God to save us as we understood and believed the Gospel which declares that Jesus “died for our sins” and that He was “raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Thirdly, we acknowledged (confessed) Jesus Christ’s rightful place as “Lord” over our life (Romans 10:9-10), therefore committing ourselves to obey Him (1 Peter 1:2), and recognize Him as the Master over our life.
Also, in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 the Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement! He said, “I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which you are saved …”. Notice, they “received” the gospel, they were “standing” in the gospel and they were “saved” through the gospel! How is it possible that a person is involved in all of these things and does not know it? How would it be possible for me to be “standing” in a river and not know that I am in the river? How is it possible for anyone to be “standing” in salvation, and not know they are saved?
Then there is the internal witness of the Holy Spirit Who assures us that we are “children of God”! This is seen in Romans 8:16 where the apostle Paul states, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”! At the moment of salvation God, the Holy Spirit, takes up His indwelling residency within every believer (1 Corinthians 6:19), and in so doing they now have an internal witness with their human spirit that they are part of God’s family, i.e., a child of God! Not that “they might be,” but “that they are!” The way that the apostle Paul wrote this in the original text is powerful, because he emphasized the fact that there is a supernatural, continual, internal witness going on inside of every true believer confirming the reality that they are saved! How can this being going on and a person not know it? Or to use another illustration, how can a newly expectant mother be carrying a precious baby inside of her and not know it? She can’t! There is evidence of a new life in her! The same is true of the Holy Spirit inside of every believer confirming the wonderful truth that they are saved!
I do not want to appear harsh or uncaring, but the statement, “It is possible to be a Christian and not know that you are a Christian” is wrong! It is not biblical!
Lastly, John wrote the letter of 1 John so people can “know”, oida, that they have eternal life. What does John say in his letter that gives assurance of salvation? It would be greatly beneficial to the reader of this article to read 1 John and mark everything that assures them that they “have eternal life,” i.e., saved.
For the love of God’s people,
Blessings, Ron Finch
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” -1 John 5:13