How does one know if one is a believer or not? Scripture says one can deceive his neighbors. It also says one can deceive oneself. Then it presents the terrifying and sad story of Judas Iscariot. So how does one know if one is at peace with God? How can one have assurance of salvation?
Some would say, “Look at your circumcision, or your baptism, or your church membership.”
Some would say, “Look at the front page of your Bible where you and your Sunday school teacher signed the date of your accepting Jesus into your heart.”
Some would say, “Listen to your mother and father; let them tell you again of the time you knelt by your bed and prayed early in your elementary years.”
Some would say, “If you are doubting and concerned, this must be proof of your still unconverted condition. Therefore, raise your hand, walk the aisle one more time, throw the stick in the fire, cry, and this time really, really, really mean it.”
Some would say, “You cannot have eternal assurance, for the ‘once saved, always saved’ idea allows one to live unrepentantly in sin and still believe they have received divine pardon.”
However, what would the man with the keys of the kingdom say? How would Saint Peter encourage you?
… May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. (2 Peter 1:2-12)
Peter understands that salvation is a calling. It is a promise of grace and not a performance of man. No one can earn his own salvation, for it is not through one’s own works that one receives eternal life. No, salvation and reconciliation are gifts granted by the Father to some.
Peter also understands that salvation is a process. Regeneration is a one-time act. Justification is a one-time act. Sanctification is a on-going process that continues until death or rapture. Then comes glorification, when the old nature is completely eradicated by the grace of God. All of these nuances — regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification — are included in the concept of salvation. Therefore, all those who are declared “OK” by God are slowly made “OK” in reality.
So, how would we know if we were elect? How would we know if we were chosen? How would we know if we were internally regenerated, transformed or born-again? How would we know if the Judge has declared us “Not Guilty!” because of the sacrificial and substitutional work of Jesus Christ? How would we know if the Holy Spirit dwelt within? How would we know if Jesus were praying for us from the throne above? How would we know if our heavenly garment was being pressed and our glorious mansion in construction?
Simply answer this question, “Will we today make every effort to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, affection and love?” If our souls are rebellious and we find ourselves saying, “Forget about it,” then we are not believers. However, If our souls are warmed by these character traits or spiritual fruit, and we find peace in repenting and recommitting to grow in these areas, then this is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It shows we have a new nature. We should then consider our predestination and regeneration confirmed.
So go ahead, enjoy repenting and recommitting. Then, with great zeal, enjoy the Christmas season today along with the Lord’s Day tomorrow, for God is your friend and not your enemy. He has come to earth to seek and to save sinners, unholy people like you and me.