How You Can Know You're A Christian

Read: 1 John 5:9-13

Text: (1 John 3:19-20 KJV) "And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

Theme: I may not always feel saved, but there are definite proofs in my life to remind me that I am a child of the king.


I want to speak on "How you can know you're a Christian" or "How to KNOW you are saved." Now, I'm not talking about how to GET saved, but rather on how YOU CAN BE SURE that you are saved.

I'm speaking tonight not to those who are lost, but to those who are saved.

I want to share some thoughts of assurance tonight... thoughts to help you always be sure that when you first trusted Christ, it stuck, and that you are as saved as it's possible for a sinner to be.

READ 1 John 5:9-13 and text

Sometimes our feelings tell us we are not saved. In every Christian's experience, there are moments of wonder and moments of doubt and moments of confusion. At those time, our text points out, the reality of our relationship with God is based NOT on our feelings, but on Him who is infinitely greater than our feelings.

John's purpose in writing this epistle is seen in 1 John 5:13. He wrote so you and I would KNOW. 38 times in the King James Bible, John's epistle uses the word KNOW or KNOWETH or KNOWN. He wrote to provide assurance.The fact he wrote for this purpose provides ample evidence that the problem of doubt and lack of assurance is as old as Christianity itself. John wanted to ensure that Christians didn't doubt, but that they had that confident assurance God wants them to have.

There is a reason why this subject is ever-important to me.

By way of explanation, may I share my testimony? I was saved when I was twelve, but went through a period of many years, well into my early adulthood, when I didn't understand, comprehend, or believe in the simple Bible truth of "once saved always saved." I wasn't taught it, and even when I heard others speak of it, I couldn't quite get my mind to grasp it. Consequently, I went through years of doubt and years of asking Jesus to save me everytime I sinned (which was often, I'm ashamed to say). Finally, through the constant reading of the Bible, God dealt with this issue in my life and helped me to understand, to the point where there is probably no Biblical subject that I understand and believe MORE now than "once saved always saved." Once I came to this understanding, I also came to know that that first time I asked for salvation, I got it, and I never needed to worry about it again. I came to know that salvation had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Christ. It had nothing to do with whether or not I was good enough, and everything to do with whether He was good enough. I came to understand that when He died on the cross of Calvary that He paid it ALL... that ALL my sins (past, present, and future) were paid for... that He knew what He was talking about when He said, "IT IS FINISHED," and that there was nothing I needed to add to His work to GET saved, and there is nothing I need to add to His work to KEEP saved.

I don't believe my experience is unique. I believe that it is a common experience for Christians... good Christians, men and women who are absolutely and eternally saved, to be confused about their security and experience doubts about the eternal nature of their salvation. Every single person who enters into a saving relationship with Christ is going to receive a visit very shortly thereafter. Beelzebub, Satan, the devil, our adversary, "who walketh about seeking whom he may devour" is going to come and whisper words of doubt in your ear. Mark it down!

One thing that helped me was to notice the number of PRACTICAL EVIDENCES of salvation that are listed in scripture. John lists several here, and I want to just notice four of them.

I. You can know you're a Christian because you're trying to live like a Christian.

1 John 2:3 (KJV) "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."

1 John 2:29 (KJV) "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."

Both of these verses speak about our lifestyle, teaching the simple truth that if we are living like a Christian, it provides practical evidence of the reality of our salvation.

A. Of course, we all WANT to have such a lifestyle, but sin gets in the way.

1. We all sin.

2. So did some truly great Christians:

ILLUS. Paul - READ Romans 7:14-24 - Here one of the greatest Christians who ever lived plainly states that he struggles with sin in his life.

ILLUS. David - Psalm 51:3 (KJV) "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me."
Psalm 51:5 (KJV) "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."

Great Christians sinned. All Christians sin.

B. But there is something in a Christian that WANTS to live for Christ, and STRIVES to live like a Christian!

1. We must acknowledge that we fall short of the goal.

2. BUT, the evidence of salvation is simply that we WANT to live right.

C. When Satan reminds you of reasons why you must not be saved, you can remind him that you have this evidence - you are trying to live like a Christian.

ILLUS. The American painter, John Sargent, once painted a panel of roses that was highly praised by critics. It was a small picture, but it approached perfection. Although offered a high price for it on many occasions, Sargent refused to sell it. He considered it his best work and was very proud of it. Whenever he was deeply discouraged and doubtful of his abilities as an artist, he would look at it and remind himself, "I painted that." Then his confidence and ability would come back to him.

D. PARENTHETIC - I AM NOT SAYING THAT A PERSON IS SAVED BY WORKS, but rather that works AFTER SALVATION provide evidence and assurance of the reality of that salvation.

Eph. 2:8-9 (KJV) "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (NOTE - These verses are often quoted to remind us that we are NOT SAVED by works.)

Eph. 2:10 (KJV) "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (NOTE - The rest of the passage reminds us though that if we ARE saved, we will be producing the EVIDENCE of good works!)

II. You can know you're a Christian because you love other Christians.

1 John 2:9-10 (KJV) "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him."

A. The world doesn't love Christians.

1. We know this because the Bible says so.

1 John 3:13 (KVJ) "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."

2. We know it experientially:

ILLUS. Persecution of Christians through ages.

ILLUS. Foxes Book of Martyrs, describing those who have died for Christ at the hands of a Christian hating world.

B. The world doesn't love Christians because if loves its own kind.

QUOTE - Birds of a feather flock together.

1. Christians are different, so the world doesn't like them.

2. The world likes the world. Sinners like sinners.

3. This principle (birds of a feather) is seen everywhere:

ILLUS. Smokers at work, who hang around together, even when they are not smoking.

ILLUS. Churches today that tailor ministries for various groups, such as divorced people, single people, young marrieds, etc., because people like to be around other people that are JUST LIKE THEM.

ILLUS. When people come to various situations in their life, they seek out others who have had the same experiences! e.g. people who are contemplating divorce seek out the counsel of divorced people!

C. The fact that Christians like other Christians is an evidence that they are, indeed CHRISTIANS!

It is an evidence of salvation.

ILLUS. (Personal) - I can say that throughout my Christian experience, during both the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, I have always and constantly liked other Christians and longed to be near them.

Psalm 122:1 (KJV) "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."

III. You can know you're a Christian because you believe the Christian message.

1 John 5:1 (KJV) "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God..."

A. God cannot lie. (cf. Titus 1:2)

QUOTE (Charles Stanley) "Think about it... if our salvation is not secure, how could Jesus say, 'and they shall never perish' (John 10:28)? If even one man or woman receives eternal life and then forfeits it through sin or apostasy, will they not perish? And by doing so, do they not make Jesus' words a lie?"

B. God says repeatedly that IF WE BELIEVE, WE ARE SAVED.

John 3:16 (KJV) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Acts 16:31 (KJV) "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."

John 3:36 (KJV) "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

C. There is a part of this truth that is POINT IN TIME truth.

i.e. there must be a point in time when you BELIEVED.

D. There is an aspect of this truth, though, that is ONGOING.

i.e. if you are a Christian, you'll continue to believe.
(Perseverence of the saints)

ILLUS. (Personal) - I've been through some of the highest highs that a Christian could go through, and I've been through some of the lowest lows that a person could have in their Christian walk. There have been times that I have lived a life that was openly and plainly Christian, and there have been other times when my dearest friends and family no doubt doubted my salvation. I don't say this proudly, but with humility and shame. There have been times in my walk where I was a disgrace to my Lord. I have allowed myself to be backslidden so many times that I know the only reason I remain alive on this earth is because of the grace and mercy of my amazing God and Savior. BUT, at those times when I was furthest from God, I still believed. At no time, did I ever stop believing in Christ.

1. There may be doubts.

2. Those doubts are always pushed aside by the deep believe of a true Christian.

ILLUS. Carl Rogers, the U.S. psychologist, was 22 years old when he entered Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1924. While there, he participated in a seminar organized to explore religious doubts. Rogers later said of the group, "The majority of thinking their way through questions they had raised, thought themselves right out of religious work. I was one." (NOTE - Had his faith been real, it would have stood the test, and he would have come out the other side believing.)

E. The very fact that you believe is an evidence of your salvation.

IV. You can know you're a Christian because you believe the Christian book.

1 John 5:13 (KJV) "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

A. The Bible tells us how to be saved. We believed it when we first heard it!

B. When doubts creep in, we simply need to reread the Book!

Romans 10:13 "Whosoever shall call..." (Did you do that? Then what are you doubting?)

Acts 16:31 "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ..." (Did you do that?)

ILLUS. G. Campbell Morgan had already enjoyed some success as a preacher by the time he was 19 years old. But then he was attacked by doubts about the Bible. The writings of various scientists and agnostics disturbed him (e.g., Charles Darwin, John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer). As he read their books and listened to debates, Morgan became more and more perplexed. What did he do? He cancelled all preaching engagements, put all the books in a cupboard and locked the door, and went to the bookstore and bought a new Bible. He said to himself, "I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be--the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself." The result? "That Bible found me!" said Morgan. The new assurance in 1883 gave him the motivation for his preaching and teaching ministry. He devoted himself to the study and preaching of God's Word.

C. The Bible is the surest of proofs!

ILLUS. An elderly man said to H.A. Ironside, "I will not go on unless I know I'm saved, or else know it's hopeless to seek to be sure of it. I want a definite witness, something I can't be mistaken about!" Ironside replied, "Suppose you had a vision of an angel who told you your sins were forgiven. Would that be enough to rest on?" "Yes, I think it would. An angel should be right." Ironside continued, "But suppose on your deathbed Satan came and said, 'I was that angel, transformed to deceive you.' What would you say?" The man was speechless. Ironside then told him that God has given us something more dependable than the voice of an angel. He has given His Son, who died for our sins, and He has testified in His own Word that if we trust Him all our sins are gone. Ironside read I John 5:13, "You may know that you have eternal life." Then he said, "Is that not enough to rest on? It is a letter from heaven expressly to you." God's Spirit used that to bring assurance to the man's heart.

D. The Bible contains one verse which blows away all doubt about eternal security.

John 5:24 (KJV) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."



ILLUS. Phil Cross, with Poet Voices (Singing group) gave his opinion this past Sunday that "Jesus Loves Me" is the greatest song that has ever been written. He's right (IMHO). "Jesus loves me, THIS I KNOW, for the Bible TELLS ME SO."

D. We need to stay in the book so our assurance level stays high!


The next time your adversary, Satan, the prince of darkness, whispers words of doubt and confusion in your ear, and makes you doubt the reality of your salvation, you tell him:

"I'm trying to live like a Christian, and according to my Bible, that's an evidence I'm saved."

"I love Christians, and only Christians love Christians, so I must be a Christian!"

"You might make me doubt, devil, but no matter how hard you try, I still believe, and that is an evidence of my salvation."

"It doesn't matter what you say devil, because the BOOK says I'm saved."

Remind him of these things, and then tell him to get lost.

You can KNOW you're saved and secure.

(1 John 3:19-20 KJV) "And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1999 William E. Johnson.