I read recently that 50 percent of all born-again Christians don't have the assurance of salvation. Maybe some just need to memorize some pertinent passages on the assurance of salvation, like 1 John 5:13, and realize that God's Word does indeed promise that salvation is the present possession of every true follower of Christ.
On the other hand, perhaps a lot of so-called Christians do not have the assurance of salvation because they are not really saved. Just because you attend church or engage in certain religious activities does not necessarily mean you are a Christian. The Apostle Paul instructed those in the early church to examine themselves to see if their faith was genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5).
So, how do I know if you are a Christian? How do you know if I'm one? There must be evidence. Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). If someone examined your life, would they find any spiritual fruit — hard evidence to prove that you are a true follower of Jesus Christ?
Or, let me put it another way: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? By "evidence," I don't mean how many Bibles you own, or how many bumper stickers you might have on your car with Christian sayings on them. I mean hard evidence. If your family members, neighbors, and coworkers were interviewed and asked the question, "Is (your name here), in your opinion, a real Christian?" we might not be happy with the response.
The only way others can tell whether you are a Christian is by your works. While all the good works in the world won't save a person (Titus 3:5), they are reasonable evidence that someone is saved.
In a nutshell, all the great religions of the world, apart from Christianity, say, "Do." "Do this and you might go to heaven," "Do that and you might find nirvana," and so on. Christianity, in contrast, says, "Done."
In other words, God has taken care of your salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He cried out, "It is finished!" He purchased your ticket to heaven at the cross. But having received that ticket, your life should reflect your commitment to Christ. Works won't save you, but if you really are saved, then works will follow (2 Corinthians 5:17). Has that happened to you? Has there been a change in your life?
In Acts 26, the Bible outlines three steps you must take to be sure you are a Christian. This is important to understand, because you may be living under false hope, and ultimately, have a false assurance of salvation. When Paul spoke to King Agrippa and described how God had called him to preach the gospel message, he essentially broke that message down and in so many words, defined it.
Paul said that God told him to preach the gospel, which was comprised of a person hearing it, realizing it was given " 'to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness of sins and be given a place among God's people, who are set apart by faith in [Christ]' " (Acts 26:18).
So first, you must have your eyes opened. A spiritual blindness afflicts those who have not yet turned their lives over to Jesus Christ, because "Satan...has blinded the minds of those who don't believe..." (2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT).
Second, you must turn from darkness to light. Satan loves darkness. Hell is referred to as outer darkness. If you want to really believe, then you need to come out of the darkness and into the light (Acts 26:18).
Third, you must turn from the power of Satan to God. A lot of people today want to live in two worlds. If you want to be a Christian on Sunday, but want to live the other way the rest of the week, it won't work (2 Corinthians 6:14). You must turn from Satan to God.
Have your spiritual eyes been opened? Have you turned from darkness to light? Have you turned from the power of Satan to God? If you've taken these steps, then God has forgiven your sins and has a place for you among God's people in heaven. This is the hope of those who truly belong to Christ.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!