My friend asked me that very question on Sunday with a sincere heart and seriousness that made me know they were searching for answers.
They had accepted Jesus a few years back, was baptized, then even re-baptized, but yet had trouble answering the question when a friend asked them the “How do you know?” question. They were searching for answers not just to be confident in conversation, but to find confidence for their soul.
So when does it happen?
Is it when you are sprinkled as a baby? Is it when you complete your CCD class? Is it when you are immersed into baptism? Is it when your mom drops you off at the front door and says “Go find God”? Is it when you get enough of your “stuff” together that you’re worthy to talk to God?
How do I know when I’m saved?
I don’t believe the person asking this question of my friend was one of these, but there are some Christians out there who love to ask these types of questions. Especially the ones that think being a Christian is about rules, regulations, and checking your spiritual aptitude card before you can come to church or even Jesus. Sadly so many of these “super Christians” forget that they were once the wretch that needed Grace at one time too and weren’t looking for a spreadsheet of rules to follow but a Savior to love them.
The answer to the question is best summed up from the words of the best “sinner-to-saved” story of all time if you ask me. The Apostle Paul, the former Christian Killer and extremist, lays out clearly when we know we are saved in the book of Romans.
Here he says:
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” “- Romans 10:12-13
Do you notice something that was missing? There were no strings attached. Paul didn’t ask for a secret handshake, a check to be written, or for the person to go clean up a little bit before they come to God. Paul didn’t even say they needed to be baptized (although I believe this to be a critical step in our faith journey), but he says to simply cry out to the Lord as a sinner in need of a Savior and accept His gift of Grace.
So the answer to our question is found not in the “what” we do to be saved, but in the “when” we realize we need a Savior.
It’s in that “when” moment that we realize the effect our sin has had on our eternal life, the death penalty that we deserve because of it, grasp the grace that only Jesus can offer through his death, burial, and resurrection, and accept Him as our Lord and Savior that we are saved.
We are saved when we no longer can ignore our soul’s brokeness, realize our attempts to “fix us” have failed, and laying on our back on the floor of rock bottom we reach up to our Savior for Him to pull us out.
Jesus was always about removing obstacles to come to Him not creating more. That’s why when he died on the cross the veil in the Temple that separated God from man was torn from top to bottom. We now have direct access to God through Jesus and His grace is enough. Yet, for his entire ministry on earth Jesus fought the religious more than the unreligous over this Truth. They too were not comfortable with His answer tot he question of “How do I know I’m saved? and it led them to kill Jesus over it.
Fortunately for my friend she has good men and women around her to navigate through the question posed to her. I also don’t think the one asking the question was trying to be hurtful towards them either.
However, there are people out there do want to be hurtful and desire to be the “gatekeepers” of grace in a way. I just want to make sure that you don’t let the noise of list demanding, rule keeping, sphincter clenching religious people keep you from a relationship with Jesus. Just come to Him with your ripped up, messed up, jacked up life and let Him Save you.
Yes, your life should look and be radically different, but you have to take the first step onto the path for your destination to be different.
So I will tell you the same thing I told my friend.
Come to Jesus and know without a shadow of a doubt in that moment you are saved.