One of the things I really enjoy doing with the ministry the Lord has blessed me with is answering questions of believers and unbelievers alike. The questions people have never cease to amaze me; most I have never even considered myself.
This QFTBOC (Questions From the Body of Christ) series are articles from these questions I have received and will be in a question and response format.
If you or someone you know has a question pertaining to the Word of God – theology, difficult passages, eschatology, etc. – I would really like to hear from you.
If I end up using your question, and you would like to have your name and/or place of residence listed on the question in the article, please specify with your submitted question; otherwise, if I use your question, it will be listed as “Anonymous.”
Regardless, I will make every attempt to answer every person’s questions in a response to the emails I receive. Depending on volume, it may be a little while until you hear back from me, but my intention is to respond to all inquiries.
Other articles in this series are: QFTBOC: Civil Disobedience and Patriotism, QFTBOC: Memory – Fully Retained or Total Reset?, QFTBOC: Psalm 91, Protection, & God’s Will, QFTBOC: God’s Chastisement of His Children, and QFTBOC: What’s Satan’s Problem?
I am enjoying your new Q & A on Rapture Ready. Here is my question:
Our two sons, Joshua and Daniel, remember their grandma leading them to Jesus when they were each 5 years old.
They are wonderful, amazing sons and have treated both my husband and me and our entire family with much respect and love. They do not attend church, and their lives, for the most part, I believe do not bear fruit. Yes, both always help people whenever an opportunity arises.
We do believe in “once saved always saved” — that our salvation cannot be taken from us.
How can I be certain our sons are truly born-again Christians from such a young age?
Thank you so much.
Rich and Linda Kissel
Hi Linda and Rich!
Thank you so much for your kind words and question! Your question, no doubt, has been on the minds of godly parents for the past 2,000 years and shows your love and compassion for your sons.
Salvation, as I’m sure you are aware, is an individual salvation and can only be truly known between the individual and God. There are ways another person can perceive another’s salvation, but, unfortunately, oftentimes what we think to be the case can often be short of the truth.
When it comes to eternal salvation, we must all be on the same page concerning this doctrine.
Please read my article The Dangers of the ‘Eternal Security’ Doctrine: A Current Example, an article that uses my own familial situation as a testimony to this subject, and which is a follow-up article to The Dangers of the ‘Eternal Security’ Doctrine, which I had written 12 years prior.
Once you have read those articles, we should be able to continue on with a mutual understanding of what this complicated subject entails and what we can know about another’s salvation – if we can know anything at all.
Considerations To Ponder
Was Nebuchadnezzar saved? There are certain passages of Scripture that indicate he may very well have been (Daniel 3:1-30 and Daniel 4:1-37), but there are some people who say that although he acknowledged the One True God, he more than likely never came to really know him. The fact is, we just don’t know for sure.
Consider King Solomon. He started out great and followed the Lord wholeheartedly – writing Holy Scriptures as he did – but his end was marked by idol worship, and he seemingly rejected the One True God (1 Kings 11:1-10). Is he in heaven or hell? Honestly, we do not know.
So seems to be the case with everyone, I would suggest. It’s been said that when we get to heaven, we will be shocked at who is there and who isn’t.
When I think on this subject, a few verses come to mind:
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10a).
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves” (2 Corinthians 13:5a).
These verses indicate that it is possible for one to believe they are saved but can be deceived in their profession of faith, showing that they never really believed. At times, even the professing believer needs to “examine [ourselves], whether [we] be in the faith; [to] prove [or test] [our] own selves.” This idea rings true when Christ Himself warned:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23). (Emphasis mine)
There are a lot of warnings for the professing Christian to consider in these verses, and we would all do well to regard them. Fruits and works can be a clear sign of one’s salvation, to be sure, but, unfortunately, can also be deceptive. So we should all be on-guard with who we are dealing with as well as our own walk.
In the Left Behind series and the movie, a pastor was one of the few people in his congregation left behind after the rapture of the church. When asked why he was left behind – and I’m paraphrasing here – he cried out with tears in his eyes, “I believed with my mind and understood the gospel, but I didn’t believe with my heart! I just didn’t believe with my heart!!”
This statement of the pastor shines a light on the unvarnished truth of what Paul wrote concerning salvation:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). (Emphasis mine)
Evidence of Salvation
There are some evidences of salvation that one can look for in others. These would include:
- Dedication to Scripture reading.
- Denial of self and edifying other believers.
- Witnessing to the lost – The Great Commission.
- An obvious change in lifestyle and commitment to holiness.
- Professing Christ in audible and tangible ways.
- A genuine agape love disposition.
- An ability and willingness to forgive in all cases of being wronged or sinned against.
This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list – and doesn’t always confirm another individual’s salvation (as only God knows for sure) – but it can be considered when one is concerned for another.
The short answer to your question about how you can know that your sons are truly saved is: You can’t. At least not with absolute certainty.
But there are things you can do and questions you can ask that may help you have a more settled heart regarding this situation. But first, I’d like to address a few items in your question.
The first point I would like to make is that just because your sons aren’t attending a church doesn’t mean they are not saved. I can tell you that for me personally, most of my walk with the Lord has found me not attending a church for many various reasons.
Note: I’m not suggesting for one minute that a believer shouldn’t attend a church. If a child of God can find a Biblically sound church to attend, by all means, attend! I’m only saying that this really isn’t a telltale sign of whether someone is saved or not.
Secondly, I have found that my atheist friends and acquaintances have been some of the most generous people with their time, treasure, and self-sacrifice to others.
Why is that? Well, because everybody is born with the intrinsic and innate ability to know that there is a God. Just because an atheist declares he or she doesn’t believe in God, the truth is – that deep down – they know He exists. “There are no atheists in foxholes” is a popular saying, but actually, there are no atheists – just people who claim to be atheists.
Therefore, the self-proclaimed atheist’s mindset is one of: “Well, if my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, and it turns out there is a God, He’ll have no choice but to let me into heaven.”
Of course, as believers and knowing the Word of God, we know this is rubbish and that God does not grade on a curve. Jesus did it all, and all we have to do is believe with the mind and the heart.
So, having altruistic characteristics doesn’t necessarily point to a person being saved.
Thirdly, I couldn’t be more thankful and happy for you both that your sons are the amazing men they are and are so loving to you and your family. That’s a sign of your good parenting, and you should be very proud! But again, this characteristic, too, isn’t telling us the state of your sons’ salvation.
Lastly, and unfortunately, there are Christians who never produce fruit. These are they of whom Paul says that at the Bema Seat of Christ: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
So, with this foundation, I’d like to offer some practical ways you may be able to get to the heart of the matter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are aware of these things and tending to them now.
Here are some questions for you to consider when thinking about their salvation. Do they speak of the Lord? If so, how do they speak of Him? How do they respond when you speak of the Lord or when relating to them the things the Lord has done in both of your lives? Have they ever frowned upon or looked down on truly born-again Christians?
Be blunt and ask them questions. Ask them where they stand with Christ. Because of your love for them and your closeness to them, you should be able to ask them where they are in their walk with the Lord. These questions should either help alleviate any concerns you may have or bring those concerns out in the open so that you may try and address them in receptive and sincere dialog.
Always share the Lord with them. Show them the Lord in all that you do and all that you are. Always work Jesus into your conversations with them.
Actually, we should all be working Jesus into every conversation we have with everybody we know and meet!
Pray! Prayer is so powerful! I’ve seen it again and again in my own life and the lives of others, producing results in ways I never thought possible. Don’t get me wrong – I had faith in those prayers and that they would be realized – but never in the way they were answered.
The Lord never ceases to amaze me on how He accomplishes what He accomplishes and the beautiful end-results. Much greater than I could ever have dreamed.
But isn’t that what we should expect from God? After all, that’s what makes God, God!!
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).
Observe. Show and teach Christ. Ask. Pray.
Thank you so much for your valuable question that I’m certain countless of God’s people have had for the children the Lord has gifted them with. I so pray that this has helped and will point you in the right direction in supporting your sons and in your desire to reassure yourself of their salvation.
Again, this is a difficult situation for us all because we really don’t know who has and who hasn’t given their lives to Christ – heart, mind, and soul. Salvation is an individual pursuit that can only be truly known by the individual and the Lord Himself.
Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement – they really mean the world to me.
May the Lord richly bless you and yours as you continue to bless others through Him and for Him. Keep reaching out to the lost, as I really do believe we are living on borrowed time.
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ and are seeking answers about God, Jesus Christ, the gospel, and salvation, please email me at email@example.com for information.