John 15:5-8 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
If you are concerned for your eternal destination and feel like you have repented, believed, and received salvation in Christ, great! But know that the assurance of salvation is not a one-time event. Just because you did those things does not necessarily mean that you are saved. When God saves a person, He works in him, guides him, and brings forth fruit in his life (Philippians 2:12-13). This fruit is evidence of salvation that includes love and desire for God, obedience to Him, and repentance. Jesus said if you claim to be saved and yet your life lacks this fruit, then you are a hypocrite who is in fact still lost (Matthew 7:17-20; John 15:2, 8). The Bible says it is impossible to have true faith without it (James 2:18-20; Matthew 3:8-10). If God has started a work of salvation, He will definitely see to it that it brings forth fruit in one's life. If it isn't a reality in your life after some point, and you go back to your sins, then the Bible warns that you never were truly saved to begin with, because God always completes what He starts (Philippians 1:6). So cry out to God, plead with Him to save you; and if He has, then, by His Holy Spirit, press on, fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12)!
The Word of God warns Christians to take heed and to be on guard lest they fall away (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 10:12; Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 3:17; Hebrews 3:12-14; 12:15). We are commanded in the Bible to examine and test ourselves to see if we truly are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). The Bible declares that if you do not have the Holy Spirit—His presence will be known in that He will cause a person to live for Christ by obeying Him and forsaking sin—then you do not belong to God (Romans 8:9-13). Therefore, we must examine ourselves to see if these things are a reality in our lives. If they are, then we have great cause for rejoicing and glorying in God, for we have a biblical ground for assurance—and not merely based upon a whim or false hope. If they are not, then the time spent examining ourselves has furnished us a wonderful opportunity to cry out to God to rescue us, while we still have time.
Discipline from God
God is faithful to keep His true children on the path of faith and holiness, and He does this often by way of discipline. Whether God works powerfully through a preaching ministry, the personal reproof or counsel of a friend, or even through adversity and affliction, He will ensure, for His own glory and for their good, that His people are kept one way or another (Job 37:10-13; Psalm 119:67, 71, 75). This is one of the promises of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 32:40). Therefore, if a person's lifestyle is void of any such discipline, then the Bible warns that they are by no means a child of God (Hebrews 12:5-11).
Walking in the Light
The Bible says you're a liar if you claim to be a Christian and yet walk in darkness (1 John 1:6-7). Walking in the light has to do with living your life in such a way that you don't need to hide anything from anyone. You go to church on Sunday, but where are you Friday night? Would you gladly tell everyone about it, or would you have to hide it? Could you tell a pastor about the kinds of movies you watch or games you play? You can't be a true Christian and yet walk in darkness. Repent of your sins so that you will have nothing to hide, and then you will be walking in the light (John 3:19-21; Ephesians 5:11-15).
If you claim that you have not sinned, you make God out to be a liar because He says the opposite (1 John 1:8). If there's something sinful in your life and yet instead of confessing it as sin you justify it, you have deceived yourself (1 John 1:9-10). You cannot be a Christian and yet justify yourself or your sins; you must confess and be rid of them all (Proverbs 28:13).
Obedience to God
One of the greatest assurances that one is a child of God is that he joyfully obeys Him from the heart. God's commandments are not burdensome for the true Christian (1 John 5:2-3). The Bible declares that whoever claims to be saved and yet does not keep His commandments is a liar, and that those who make a practice of sinning are actually children of the devil (1 John 2:3-6, 29; 3:4-10; 5:18). Those who claim to be Christians must walk in the same manner as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6).
Love for Christians
There are many people who believe that they are saved and yet they do not love Christians in such a way that they would lay down their lives to serve them. The Bible declares that God sees these people as murderers in whom is no eternal life, because it is impossible to love Him when you do not love His people (1 John 3:15-18; 4:20-21). You know you have passed from death to life when you start loving God's people (1 John 3:14). If you would rather spend time with people who are not wholeheartedly and seriously devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, then you're in trouble here.
Hatred for the World System
There is so much glamor in our culture, and everyone is fascinated with what this world has to offer—trying to be popular, rich, or accepted. The Bible says if this describes you, you don't have the love of God in you (1 John 2:15-17). We are commanded not to love the world or the things in the world, because this world is evil, belongs to Satan, and friendship to it is hostility toward God (James 4:4; 1 John 5:19). The world is passing away but the will of God lives forever.
This article was revised and republished on 08/29/2020. It was originally published on 06/01/2010.