Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


Salvation Living

Last week I received an email from my friend “Gloria.” She has a new love interest and wanted to know how to tell if he is “saved.”

“Since things are getting pretty serious and I’m not seeing a commitment to Christian living, maybe he isn’t saved. How can I tell?”

We can’t look into the heart of someone to determine whether they have made a born again commitment to Jesus. But we can look at their profession and actions to get a pretty good idea.

Why does salvation matter? First and foremost it matters because only through living the professed gospel can any of us experience forgiveness of our sins and anticipate eternal life. When our bodies die, our souls live on and there are only two destination possibilities: heaven or hell. That is an unpopular church doctrine in this age of moral relativism. It sounds exclusionary because it is.

Second, salvation determines how we live here and now.

Jesus told Nicodemus the Pharisee, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

When we are born again into righteousness through Christ, we move into a conscious relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For some people that event rocks their world. For others it is a gentle awakening.

Sometimes it occurs at baptism, but people can be baptized for a variety of reasons and not be born into new life. They can say “The Sinner’s Prayer” and choose not to come under the Lordship of Jesus. They can join a church and not be saved; my husband likes to say that standing in a garage doesn’t make you a car.

Salvation is a personal decision that is backed up with action. People around us can see the evidence.

The day we make that commitment is the moment the Holy Spirit begins to change us into a new and better version of ourselves. These are the outward signs I suggested Gloria look for:

·   Recognize and rely on the guiding voice of the Holy Spirit.

·   Scripture makes sense.

·   Feels immediate guilt and remorse after sinning.  

·   Apologizes for hurting others.

·   Forgives wrongs of others even when they don’t deserve it.  

·   Develops the Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control and they are evident when dealing with everybody. (Gal 5:22)

·    Liberated from the need to be right all the time.

·    Lives transparently without fear of criticism.  

·    Sees God’s purpose in all circumstances.

·   Does not hate, create discord, have fits of anger, and is not selfish. (Gal 5:19-21)

True followers of Jesus don’t compartmentalize their fruits. Those qualities are present (or deliberately under construction) in all situations with all people, revealing a pattern of spiritual maturation.

I wrote to Gloria, “In other words, you can determine whether a person is an authentic and born again follower of Jesus by watching how they live. But with one caution: be very careful not to judge too quickly. Do not bruise the fruit! If you aren’t sure if he is saved, keep watching, pray for him, love him, and ask God to give you wisdom in how to proceed.”