How do you know if someone is saved?
Catch yourself listening to people in different spiritual settings.
Do you ever unknowingly ponder the salvation of others based on what they say in conversation? I think we have an engrained filter that causes us to do this. Sometimes it’s awful because we end up attributing worth or disdain to people based on how they handle themselves in simple conversations, but perhaps with care….this tendency can be siphoned for edification, not comparison. Of course, all of this begs the question…
How do we know if someone is saved?
Do we just ask them? Consider some of these time-worn methods…
Do you think someone is saved because they said so?
Do you think someone is saved because you personally led them through the sinner’s prayer, and they said all the important elements, i.e., confessed their sin, confessed Jesus as Lord, asked God into their heart, and sealed it with Jesus’ name?
Do you think someone is saved because they’re members of a church roster, having been baptized, entered into the rolls, and confirmed?
Do you think someone is saved because you heard them pray at a prayer meeting, and were deeply impressed with their ability to articulate prayers?
Do you think someone is saved because they don’t live like they used to live?
Do you think someone is saved because they haven’t missed a corporate worship gathering in a while?
Do you think someone is saved, because they are able to articulate all the important doctrines about justification through faith?
Do you think someone is saved because they ran weeping to the altar to receive salvation during that outdoor festival you saw them at?
Do you consider someone to be saved because they sound just like John Piper, with everything they speak about lacquered in superlatives concerning God’s glorious, sovereign, eternal worth?
We size people up all the time.
I’m not tripping out over this yet. But I have a better question…
What are we evaluating each other by?
Testimony? Life change? Baptism? Properly filled out church bulletin? A subtle glow around their forehead?
Silly, I know. If I asked a young Sunday school kid the same question, the answer would probably come with startling brevity…
They love Jesus.
Oh! I agree. The implications of that three word sentence could pack a barn-house with theology.
For a rebellious sinner to actually love Jesus assumes that the first ten chapters of Romans’ soteriology have already exploded upon their darkened hearts in a flurry of divine light.
Then again, is it not more so the person who has understood God’s love towards them in Christ? In 1962, Karl Barth was asked to summarize his 14 volume magnum opus, Church Dogmatics, in a single sentence. He scratched his head methodically, then replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” The Good News is not primarily that we love God, but that he loved us first! (1 Jn. 4:10).
Of course, we can’t see the intangible love between God and a human subject. So we often revert to tangible evidence as our evaluation.
But WHAT should the evidence of an invisible salvation be that would satisfy us? Especially since salvation is supernatural, and any evidence we could put together on a list is, well, subjective at best?
Before you object by pointing out that it is not our business to inquire about each other’s personal salvation, think about this…How would you advise a stranger who asked you to help them grow spiritually? Would it change your advice whether they were born again or not?