Am I Saved?

I can’t think of a more important question than this one. I hope that this article might be of some assistance to you in answering it.

The correct answer to each question in this list should not be hard to figure out but that is not the point. Instead, use them to search your soul for honest answers. If you put in this effort, I think what you get in return will be well worth the effort.

Lastly, if you need any help understanding what is intended in these questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.


  1. Do you see Christ as your only hope for salvation from sins?
    Saving faith is having “believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son” (1 John 5:10b). True and saving faith not only accepts God’s way of salvation but utterly rejects all other ways. Faith despises the notion that we might somehow work our way into God’s favor. Faith delights that it must rest and trust in God alone. A good way to remember this is to use FAITH as an acronym for: Forsaking All I Take Him.

    An example of this type of faith—one that delights in God’s way of saving and rejects all others—can be seen in Brainerd’s conversion story:

    My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable, to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he should be God over all for ever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was even swallowed up in him; at least to that degree, that I had no thought (as I remember) at first about my own salvation, and scarce reflected there was such a creature as myself.
    Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt him, and set him on the throne, and principally and ultimately to aim at his honor and glory, as King of the universe. I continued in this state of inward joy, peace, and astonishment, till near dark, without any sensible abatement; and then began to think and examine what I had seen; and felt sweetly composed in my mind all the evening following. I felt myself in a new world, and every thing about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do. At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with such infinite wisdom, suitableness, and excellency, that I wondered I should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely, blessed, and excellent way before. If I could have been saved by my own duties, or any other way that I had formerly contrived, my whole soul would now have refused it. I wondered that all the world did not see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the righteousness of Christ. (Source)

  2. Do you sin? Are you a sinner?

    If so,

    Rejoice! To know that you are a sinner is a small miracle. In some very real way, the Holy Spirit has already started a work in you.

    If not,

    The Bible says that; “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and that; “if we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Sin is being less holy than God is. Are you as righteous as God? As loving as God? As patient as God? If not, you have a problem because God cannot accept anything less than perfect holiness. No matter how small these shortcoming might seem to you, they are huge to God and soon they will separate you from him entirely.

  3. Do you hate all of your sins and wish fervently that you could quit them?

    If so,

    Let your soul be comforted. Do you think it is possible to universally hate sin but by the acting of God in your life? As the Psalmist, you have begun to love God’s standard for righteousness. This is a great sign of conversion. A small caution: do not place all of your assurance herein. Many who know not God will say that they hate sin (yet not with a full view of sin and with full honesty).

    If not,

    Without sincerity and diligence in a universality of obedience, there is no hope for holiness at all. You are like Saul who lost his inheritance in keeping the best possessions of the Amalekites for himself. Without an absolute hatred of sin as sin, what business do you have cleaning up some particular part of your life? Do you hold onto some sin in tenderness, calling it sweet names? Remember, the sin that you are holding onto, Christ bled and died for the sake of it, so set yourself against it as the Father set himself against his Son as a result of it.

  4. Is there any sin that you are not willing to forsake if God would grant you the power to forsake it?
    This is another way of asking the last question. Say there was a big red button which when pressed would completely eradicate the possibility of you ever sinning again. Is there anything that would make you hesitate to press such a button?

    Do you believe God grants saints that power in Christ? Verse List

    Have you been making use of it?

    If so, you should often be gaining great victories over your sin, which should help provide you with great assurance that you are born of God.
  5. Do you feel that everlasting misery is due to you for the sake of your many sins?
    Those that would be free of the filth of sin must labor to feel the shame of it. Ezra (Ezr 9:6) and Jeremiah (Jer 3:25) knew to be ashamed before God. Fill yourself with a due regard for the just penalties of your sin. Do you realize that every moment you are not in hell is a charitable gift from God? This ought fill your soul with all manner of remorse and gratitude. This is true regardless of whether you are a Christian or not. God requires us to abide in this state to the furtherance of his grace in our lives (Eze 16:63). Paul assumes that this shame is a part of the Christian experience (Rom 6:21). How can you expect to achieve victory over sin if you purposely forget what you are commanded to remember (Eph 2:12)? Paul calls himself the chief of sinners and a debtor to all. This is what the Spirit taught Paul and what the Spirit will teach you if indeed you are sealed with him.
  6. Do you now live in the willful practice of any known sin?

    If so,

    First rejoice that God has revealed this sin to you. Your heart is not so hardened as to have been completely handed over to your own lusts. Second, confess your sin and your inability to stop. Set faith to work in the promises of God. He knows your sin. He knows you do not have any power over it in yourself. He is a gracious God and will condescend to help you if you turn your plight over to him. Yet for all the hope offered here there is also a warning. 1John 3:9 “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” One of the greatest mistakes men make is to think it is possible to be born again and to continue willfully sinning. These two are incompatible.

    If not,

    Either you are living in great power or in great ignorance. This can be a hard area: keep a watchful eye on your soul.

  7. Are you able to turn to God and call him Father even in your sinful state?
    It is easy for all humanity to imagine a smiling deity when life is going well. Yet those who dwell in Christ have something more: in the midst of sinning, a Christian can feel the pleasure of God—for he knows that God’s pleasure does not result from sinlessness but from imputation.
  8. Do you serve God merely (or primarily) to save yourself from damnation?
    One born again sees godliness as a high reward in itself. Oh to be holy, oh to be like God, oh to be able to keep his commandments: these are the pinings of a softened heart. Were there no hell and no heaven, a Christian’s desire for righteousness would not be slackened in the least. Think of Christ who we are called to be like. Did he act righteously merely to avoid the wrath of God? If you are not like Christ in this way, be cautioned, it is very unlikely that your heart has been knit to his.

    This is one great difference between believers and those that have not faith. Fear of the consequents of sin, with an apprehension of some advantages which are to be obtained by a sober life and the profession of religion, do steer and regulate the minds of unbelievers, in all they do towards God or for eternity; but the minds of believers are influenced by a view of the glory of the image and likeness of God in that holiness, and all the parts of it, which they are called unto. This gives them love unto it, delight and complacency in it, enabling them to look upon it as its own reward. And without these affections none will ever abide in the ways of obedience unto the end. —John Owen

  9. Do you have a radical habitual holiness so that often you find the work of following God’s law easy when once it was hard for you?

    This may be hard to understand. Those who pretend to be Christians try to act like God and through practice eventually find themselves developing habits that seem consistent with righteousness. Christians on the other hand are given a habit with which they are able to act a holiness not of their own making. Pretenders desire some favor with God and so try on moral uprightness to get what they desire. Christians desire holiness itself. This is very related to hating sin as sin. The sinfulness itself is what the Christian hates. Likewise, the holiness itself is what a Christian loves.

    As an example: It is not so hard for a Christian to keep the Sabbath because he loves keeping it—it is a joy. That it leads to good results is only icing on the cake, for even if it led to bad results, the Christian would still enjoy keeping it.

    Another way to describe it is in connection with original sin, which is also called indwelling sin. Just like indwelling sin whispers sweet calls to the sinner to come and taste of its fruits and drives a man to distraction with various lusts, so too does this habit (aka indwelling grace) prompt a Christian towards righteousness. It gives holiness a sweetness and an appeal. Where many men can spend time day-dreaming about cars or women, a Christian might find himself daydreaming about helping the poor. The mind starts mulling over the things of God. Hence David says that he meditates on God’s law both day and night and that he is consumed with a desire for it.

    Owen explains it this way:

    There is wrought and preserved in the minds and souls of all believers, by the Spirit of God, a supernatural principle or habit of grace and holiness, whereby they are made meet for and enabled to live unto God, and perform that obedience which he requireth and accepteth through Christ in the covenant of grace; essentially or specifically distinct from all natural habits, intellectual and moral, however or by what means soever acquired or improved.

  10. Can you say, as David, that you delight in God’s law?
    The Hebrews have several words for the roaring of a lion:

    • Sha’ag is the lion’s roar in seeking prey (Psa 104:21)
    • Naham his cry when seizing it (Pro 19:12)
    • Hagah his growl defying any effort to snatch from him his prey (Isa 31:4)

    The point is that in Psa 1:2, David compares righteous men to lions who hagah (meditate) on the word of God. The image is that they fiercely guard it while the gnaw on it. Not so the wicked. In Psa 2:1, the wicked hagah (plot) on vanities. Which are you more possesive of, the things of God or the things of this world? What is your default state? What do you spend most of your time thinking about?

    If you ask him to, God will help you change from one kind of man to the other. However, if you are like most peope, instead of throwing yourself to God alone for help, you will feel convicted to use your own willpower to try to be more Godly. This seldom works. Only the Holy Spirit can change you from one type of man to the other. Learn to set faith at work in Christ for the conversion process and you will begin to become such a man.

  11. Can you turn to the fountain that has been opened unto all holiness?
    “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness (Zec 13.1).”

    We defile ourselves every day, and if we go not every day to the “fountain that is open for sin and for uncleanness,” we shall quickly be all over leprous. Our consciences will be filled with dead works, so that we shall no way be able to serve the living God, unless they are daily purged out. … When a soul, filled with self-abasement under a sense of its own defilements, applies itself unto Christ by faith for cleansing, and that constantly and continually, with a fervency answering its sense and convictions, it is in its way and proper course. I am persuaded no true believer in the world is a stranger unto this duty; and the more any one abounds therein, the more genuine is his faith evidenced to be, and the more humble is his walk before the Lord. —John Owen

  12. Do you despise all this world has to offer as dross and dung in comparison to the riches offered in communion with Christ?

    Would you be certain whether you are converted or not? Now let your soul and all that is within you attend. Have you taken God for your happiness? Where does the desire of your heart lie? What is the source of your greatest satisfaction? Come, then, and with Abraham lift up your eyes eastward, and westward, and northward, and southward, and look around you; what is it that you would have in heaven or on earth to make you happy? If God should give you your choice, as He did to Solomon, or should say to you, as Ahasuerus to Esther, ‘What is thy petition, and what is thy request, and it shall be granted thee?’ what would you ask? Go into the gardens of pleasure, and gather all the fragrant flowers there, would these satisfy you? Go to the treasures of mammon; suppose you may carry away as much as you desire. Go to the towers, to the trophies of honour. What do you think of being a man of renown, and having a name like the name of the great men of the earth? Would any of these, would all of these satisfy you, and make you to count yourself happy? If so, then certainly you are carnal and unconverted.”
    —Joseph Alleine, A Sure Guide to Heaven

  13. Will you be content for all eternity to dwell on the holiness of God?

    Where there is true grace, there is an insatiable desire of more. —Andrew Bromhall

    Some wonder if they will be bored in heaven. It is impossible for those who know what Christ tastes like to ask such a question. Some evidence a similar type of ignorance of Christ by being bored here on earth. If you find yourself with nothing to do for several hours, is it possible for you to commune with God during that time and thus be more happy than if you were distracting yourself with games or entertainment? If you willfully refuse to enjoy Christ now, how do you hope to enter into heaven which will be the perfecting of that experience (Joh 17:3)?

  14. Is there any duty you are unwilling to perform for the sake of Christ?
    Is there anything God is not allowed to ask of you? Is there anything he could ask that you would not do? Abraham demonstrated his faith with his willingness to sacrafice his own son. Our faith must be of the same type as his.
  15. Have you taken the everlasting joy of God for your chief happiness in this life and the next?

    Can you truly say, that you have so far taken the everlasting enjoyment of God for your happiness, that it hath the most of your heart, of your love, desire, and care; and that you are resolved, by the strength of Divine grace, to let go all that you have in the world, rather than hazard it; and that it is your daily, and your principal business to seek it? Can you truly say, that though you have your failings and sins, yet your main care, and the bent of your whole life, is to please God, and to enjoy him for ever; and that you give the world God’s leavings, as it were, and not God the world’s leavings; and that your worldly business is but as a traveller’s seeking for provision in his journey, and heaven is the place that you take for your home?

    …[If not]…

    I much fear that you are yet a stranger to the Christian life. For if you we’re a Christian indeed, and truly converted, your very heart would be set on God and the life to come, and you would make it your chief business to prepare for everlasting happiness; and you durst not, you would not, live in any wilful sin, nor in the neglect of any known duty.
    Alas! what have you done? how have you spent your time till now Did you not know that you had a soul to be saved or lost; and that you must live in heaven or in hell for ever; and that you had your life and time in this world chiefly for the purpose of preparing for another? Alas! what have you been doing all your days that you are so ignorant, or so unprepared for death, if it should now find you? If you had but as much mind of heaven as of earth, you would have known more of it, and done more for it, and inquired more diligently after it, than you have done. You can learn how to do your business in the world; and why could you not learn more of the will of God, if you had but attended to it? You have neighbors that could learn more, that have had as much to do in the world as you, and who have had as little time. Do you think that heaven is not worth your labor? —Richard Baxter

  16. Do you feel more loved by God because he makes much of you, or because, at great cost to himself, he frees you to enjoy making much of him forever?
    From John Piper:

    Is the deepest basis of our joy God’s greatness or our greatness?
    Am I more satisfied praising him or being praised?
    Am I God-centered because of his surpassing value, or am I God-centered because he highlights my surpassing value?
    Would it be heaven to me to see God or to be God?

    The love of God is not God’s making much of us, but God’s saving us from self-centeredness so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. And our love to others is not our making much of them, but helping them to find satisfaction in making much of God. True love aims at satisfying people in the glory of God. Any love that terminates on man is eventually destructive. It does not lead people to the only lasting joy, namely, God. Love must be God-centered, or it is not true love; it leaves people without their final hope of joy.

Hopfully, as you have been working though these, one of two things has been happening: 1- Either you have found great comfort and assurance that the God of heaven has implanted in you his Holy Spirit as a seal of your salvation, or 2- you have begun to realize that you have no solid evidence for believing that you have been converted. If this second thing has been happening, please don’t give up hope. Turn to God for mercy. Seek him with all that is in you and he will reveal himself to you (Jer 29:13). If one soul is rescued from presumption into genuine faith as a result of this article, all the work and prayer will be well worth it.

3 Comments to “Am I Saved?”

  1. chrisvanallsburg@gmail.com 11 November 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    Michael,
    Thanks for the post. I may dissent from you a bit on this post, in that your list seems to have a deep focus on the self, whereas the gospel is not about us, but about God. It’s “the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). Also, your list says nothing of the cross. I don’t see anything on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I do realize the point of the first series of questions regarding sin; hence the law/gospel paradigm of communicating the good news of God. But still no mention of faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Just a thought…

  2. Mike Bradley 13 November 2009 at 10:34 am #

    Thanks for commenting Chris.

    I completely agree that the gospel is about God and its focus is on the cross of Christ. Like you point out (and thanks for doing so), I should probably add to this list more on the cross. This would be especially true if this was a post on, “how can I be saved?” which is perhaps how you read it?

    And yet …

    This is a post on, “am I saved?” It is for those who already think they are Christians. It is to help divide between presumption in the cross and genuine faith in the cross. The biblical method for this is to examine yourself. The focus of this examination biblically is not Jesus but how the individual is living in response to Jesus.

    Again, I will try to rework the cross into the list better as I want that to be the focus of everything I do. And yet, we both know that for all the preaching on the cross these days, there will be many hearers, knowers, and proponents of that message who will one day end up hearing, “depart from me, I never knew you.” That scares me for myself and for others.

    Lastly, like the rest of the list, questions 1-7 are aimed at professors of Christianity. They are not intended as a law/gospel paradigm of communicating the good news. They are intended to flow from the point that without holiness, no man will see God. Thus, if men do not hate their sins and sincerely endeavor to fight against them, it is almost guaranteed that they will not stand on the last day. This is equally true for those that have “accepted” the gospel. If a man’s gospel makes him strive less hard against sinfulness than he did before he came to accept that gospel, then his gospel is no gospel of God’s making.

  3. chris 14 November 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    Mike,

    You say, “And yet” regarding the preaching of the cross. When we think this is insufficient, and we add our own “lists” for people, what we’re really doing is getting them to pride themselves on how they feel about their emotional response to such questions.

    We believe we are justified by faith in Christ alone–why not also our assurance? The problem I have with this list is that is gets people to take pride in their own experience, instead of looking to Jesus.

    Calvin taught that Christ is the mirror of our election, and so is our assurance. We look to Christ for salvation, and we also look to him for assurance. This “looking” to Christ is in fact, faith. We can’t depend on our experience i.e. moments of joy, or lack thereof for assurance of salvation–because then we’re depending upon ourselves, ultimately–not the Holy Spirit or Christ or our loving, Heavenly Father. Our experience changes because we’re human. We take in moments of gladness and joy, as well as sadness and mourning. After all, Jesus was a man of many sorrows….

    Instead of having a list based upon human emotion and experience, how about a list from the actual Scriptures themselves? For example,

    1. Do you let your light shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven? Matt. 5:16.

    2. Does your righteousness surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law? Matt. 5:20

    3. Do you get angry with your brother? And do you seek to be reconciled to him when you do?

    4. Do you commit adultery?

    5. Do you think about getting a divorce from your wife?

    6. Do you keep the promises (oaths) you make before the Lord?

    7. Do you love your enemies as well as your neighbors?

    8. Do you forgive men when they sin against you?

    9. Are you concerned more for the speck in your brother’s eye than for the plank in your own?

    10. Are you doing the will of your Father in heaven? Because if you’re not you won’t enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said so.

    11. Do you know what it means to confess that Jesus is Lord?

    12.Have you been baptized like Jesus said in the Great Commission?

    13. Have you neglected the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness?

    14. Do you look after orphans and widows in their distress?

    15. Do you love your wife and are you willing to lay down your life to save hers?

    16. Do you exasperate your children?

    17. Have you tamed your tongue?

    As my friend Norman says (the list of questions, I got from him), the point of self-examination isn’t to pride ourselves on our self-assurance, but rather to see whether we are doing what Christ tells us to do.

    I guess I just have some misgivings about your list, because they don’t arise from Scripture. I think there’s a real danger of using a list like this in order to establish one’s own self-righteousness rather than that of the kingdom of God. And you know how much I do admire your ardent desire to pursue the Lord yourself, and to see others doing the same. But I think if we really believe in Sola Scriptura, our lists for self-examination should arise from Scripture.

    Yours,
    Chris


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