How Can I Know That I Am A Christian?
Dr. Jim Denison
The most common question I have been asked in 20 years of pastoral ministry is, “How can I know that I am a Christian?” I struggled with assurance of salvation for more than a year after my own conversion. How can you know that you know? How can you help those who have doubts? As we focus this fall on the most urgent and significant question in life, let’s consider two biblical principles.
Don’t trust in religion
First, don’t trust in religion. Such advice sounds strange, coming from a pastor. But it’s exactly the warning Jesus gives us, in the most somber sentence in the Bible: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). These are the right words. “Jesus is Lord” is the first and central affirmation of the Christian faith. We find it written in Greek on catacomb walls in ancient Rome. Those who are baptized in our church say first, “Jesus is my Lord.”
We can say the right words and do the right works, and still hear the most terrible statement in all of eternity: “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (v. 23). “Knew” means personal, intimate knowledge, a personal relationship, not just a performed religion.