2 Ways to Know You Are Saved

Posted by Pastor J.D. on January 24, 2013

I get the question from Christians a lot: “How can I know for sure that I’m saved?” So often, in fact, that I wrote a book addressing it: Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (which you can order here). I struggled with the question a lot myself until someone pointed me to passage from 1 John that helped open my eyes. In 1 John 5:13–18, John identifies 2 ways that we can be sure of our salvation.

1. We have placed our hopes for heaven entirely on Jesus. (1 John 5:13)

“I write these things to you,” John says, “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” It’s so simple that we’re liable to miss it, but assurance comes from believing in Jesus. This is the gospel: when we trust in his name, we cease striving to earn heaven by drawing upon our own moral bank account; instead, we withdraw on his righteous account in our place.

The gospel, by its very nature, produces assurance. Because the gospel proclaims “Jesus in my place,” my assurance does not depend on how well or how much I have done. It depends on whether or not I rest in his finished work. So the question is not, “Can I remember praying a prayer?” or “Was my conversion experience really emotional?” The important question is, “Are you currently resting on Jesus as the payment for your sin?”

A lot of Christians get caught up looking for assurance to a prayer they prayed 2 years, 5 years, or 30 years ago. But John does not say, “I write these things to you who prayed the sinner’s prayer.” He writes to those who believe. The point is not the prayer you prayed, but the present posture you are in.

2. You have a new nature. (vv. 16–18)

If you have been born of God you have been given a new nature.  And that comes with new desires. So you do not “keep on sinning,” as John writes, because you have new desires. As an earthy way to think about this, you might imagine some vomit on the ground. None of us would require a list of rules keeping us from eating it. Why? Because we find it disgusting. Now, a dog has a totally different nature, with different desires. A dog would find that vomit as appetizing as we find it disgusting.

This is how God changes us: not by browbeating us with rules, but by giving us a new heart. You no longer love dishonesty and hatefulness and immorality like you used to. You do not avoid them because of threats from God, but because these things start to make you sick.

Of course, this does not mean that you become immediately perfect, or that you no longer struggle with sin. But you stop engaging in sin willfully and defiantly. You cannot love God and love the things that grieve him. You cannot have a mouth that sings praise to Jesus with a life that openly crucifies him. It is not your mouth that best reflects your love for God; it is your life.

And when you do start to go back toward your sin—which we all do!—Jesus protects you and renews you (v. 18). In fact, one of the signs that your salvation is genuine is that even though you fall, you never permanently fall away. God brings you back, again and again. As Proverbs says, “The righteous man falls seven times, and rises again” (Prov 24:16).

Your new nature is not demonstrated by never falling, but by what you do when you fall. Salvation does not means sinless perfection, but it does mean a new direction.

Pastor J.D.


J.D. Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). More

35 responses to 2 Ways to Know You Are Saved

  1. Terrific points, J.D., and quite timely. Just this week I was helping a dad counsel his son who is concerned about a lack of fruit in his life. They ended up having a great discussion about the transforming power of the gospel. I sent them a link to this article as a reinforcing word of encouragement to them.

  2. Hi JD,
    Thank you for writing this post. I have a question regarding your second point (I agree with your first point entirely). Are you suggesting that someone who sins willfully is not a Christian? I am in the process of reading Jerry Bridges excellent “Respectable Sins” and I am reminded that many of us engage, willfully I might add, in sins that are probably seen as no big deal in the world.

    How do you respond to the believer who is struggling with ongoing sin, who wants to mortify that sin, but who continues to do so on a regular basis despite seeing some evidence of growth/progressive sanctification. Is that person left without hope because their sin is willful?

  3. Just began reading the book, been blessed by your ministry, thank you, would be great to jar translated to Spanish.

  4. I was just having this discussion with someone on my own blog the other day. This will be a great article for her to read, so I’m definitely sharing it with her. Can’t wait to read the book.

  5. Mitchell Hammonds January 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Eeehh… I’m not sure there is any other way to sin than to do it “willfully.” If you/I didn’t want to do “XYZ sin” then we wouldn’t do it. I would also add that we should be wanting to do more “XYZ righteous acts” as well rather than avoiding a specific willful act. This article does nothing but speak of “degrees of obedience” which is a subjective undertaking at best. No one can really know if this is how we are to tell the saved from the unsaved.

    How about one knows their saved if they simply….. “Believe.” Believe in the One who was lifted up. Believe in the One who was sent by the Father. For by this no one shall perish. Oh and by the way… the belief was a gift too! You and I had absolutely no part in it. Now that’s great news!

  6. JD,

    Thanks for sharing this. As a believer who has struggled with assurance from time to time these are great, Biblical reminders. I ordered your new book and can’t wait to read it!


  7. Looking forward to checking out your book. I do think it might be more helpful (dare I say more accurate?) to admit that we find the vomit to be BOTH disgusting and enticing at the same time because of our new nature AND the reality of indwelling sin. As someone already pointed out, Jerry Bridges’ “Respectable Sins” is very helpful with this ongoing dilemma in the life of believers.

  8. A feeling that committing a sin would hurt Our Heavenly Father and wanting to avoid that may also be a good indicator that one is a child of God.

  9. Thanks for this article. As a 15 year old believer I struggle with assurrence. But I know that the devil tries to make us doubt God. The devil puts questions to us like: ‘how do you know for sure.’ Or,’but you’re such a wicked sinner Jesus could never forgive you, you aren’t worth it.’
    It is hard sometimes to have faith in the power of Jesus’s blood.
    Any encouraging thoughts?

  10. I have a question, I struggle with not having a time, date, prayer, place or experience for my assurance of salvation. I have prayed so many sinners prayers until I can’t go back to any certain time in my life and say this is when I was saved. Is it possible to get an email from J D Greear on how to settle this?

  11. Chris Pappalardo January 13, 2014 at 3:22 pm


    I attempted to send you an email with this, but it came back as “undeliverable.” I hope this comment gets to you.

    I hope, since you’ve stumbled across the blog, that you’ve noticed the other posts relating to assurance of salvation. Here are a few, in addition to the one you commented on:

    And, as mentioned in the posts, most of this is coming from J.D.’s recently released book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. If you haven’t already, you might benefit by spending some time with that book. It has been an eye-opener for a lot of people.

    If you’ve already plowed through all of this and are still feeling confused, here’s my abbreviated counsel:

    As J.D. mentions throughout Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, the important thing is not identifying a time, day, and place when you first trusted in Christ. A lot of people have that, and it can be a blessing to be able to recall that. I am often encouraged when others tell me about a very moving moment when they first placed their trust in Christ. But I also know a lot of people who grew up so saturated in the gospel that they can’t quite remember a time when they didn’t believe it. There must have been a moment, of course, but it’s hazy in their memories.

    And here’s the thing: both of those are okay. A present posture of repentance and faith is 1,000 times better than a memory of a moving religious experience. So if you believe in Christ today, then the question of when and where you were saved is pretty much moot. You can say—as many of my friends do—that you think God saved you around such-and-such a time, giving a range—around age 8, or 9, or 10, or whatever. But more important than identifying a time in the past is walking with Christ in the present. Don’t let the fuzziness of your memory and the uncertainty of 100 sinner’s prayers stop you from believing in Christ and following him boldly today.

  12. Jasper Grady Bates January 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Thanks for your post. I have spent much time in God’s Word the last few years. More than I have ever spent in my life. I have even covered this topic extensively. But no matter how much you think you know. Or desire to know with all your heart. There is something that drives us to search for answers. For whatever reason. It is wonderful to have God’s Word available to us. but I think it is in our nature to hear that assurance coming from someone else. I know God’s Word is all that matters and is all that should matter to any Christian. But having other Christian’s to point us in the right direction in the Word of God is a blessing all the same. So with great sincerity, thank you so much.

    Sincerely, Jasper G. Bates

  13. more simple than that,
    1Jo 3:23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.


  14. Thanks reading these comment helped me because I too struggle with ami saved I do believed but I go back and fort wondering what’s in my heart wants to believe Jesus is in my heart sometime when I can’t feel him in my heart what’s that..if you’re saved you should always feel Jesus love and grace so can you email me and tell me why I feel so loss and alone when I need Jesus love in my heart….thanks peace be with us all in Jesus name

  15. Olivia Huettemann December 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior but you sin and don’t change are you still saved?

  16. Really liked your article J.D. and I enjoyed reading everyone’s response to it, gave me insight towards what people think about when it comes to salvation. It’s a matter of believing, it isn’t up to us to determine who’s saved but it is our responsibility to guide others towards Christ. With the hopes that within themselves, they can have the assurance of salvation based on what Christ did at the cross.

  17. Wanted to get baptized but my family is discouraging. Asking if I’m saves and that I have to go to church all the time and give 10%. I think I’m saved but get discouraged about my family. When especially they should take a look at themselves. Any how thanks for listening. I found this a good read

  18. This article has really comforted me by making me know that to be saved all I have to do is believe on Jesus and I am not required to have a certain prayer experience to be saved. Thank you for telling the TRUTH that comes from the Bible.

  19. I’ve been born into a Christian family pastor, and I have known about Christ since I can remember. And I’m planning to get baptized but still don’t know if I have really accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

  20. I just read this and it helped because God and Satan are having a battle over me and I chose drugs and friends (satan) over him physically and mentally but my depression and losing my self was God telling me to wake up and come back to him but this really made me recognize and I prayed right before this asking him to help and he did. And so did you! Note* I don’t have email but if any one has any information to tell me I will listen just write on here and I will look thank you!

  21. I thought I was saved until reading the Bible and it states that salvation cannot come without revelation. Since I have not had my revelation then am 8 not saved

  22. This article was a bunch of trash. Assurance comes only from taking God at His word. 1 John 5:13. The one who believes on Jesus has everlasting life and they can know it. The guy who posted this article seems to be trusting in his works, new desires, turning from sin … etc to know he is saved and this just doesn’t work. Our righteousness are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6. God is not pleased by anything we do and because we still have the flesh we still sin even willfully as this guy seems to deny. The latter part of the article would give only unsaved, self-righteous pharisees false assurance. One must trust in Jesus alone to go to heaven. Trust in anything else and you will go to hell. This phony pastor wants you to trust in new desires, a new heart, abnegation from sins, works etc.When the truth is we are saved 100% by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9.

    Jesus said in John 6:47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

  23. Thank you. I’m still sick with anxiety, but this helps.

  24. For the longest time I struggled whether I was saved or not. I don’t think any of us truly know until we see Jesus face to face. There is constant spiritual warfare, and Satan wants us all to believe we are doomed. Jesus died to stand between us and God to purify us. Not even one of us is sinless. The Bible says believe in Jesus, and you will be saved. It’s us humans who distort the truth by believing we will be a certain way after we accept Christ. God is in charge, not us. A great example is how my cigarette smoking finally stopped. It was not me who quit, but rather it was God in me that quit…I take zero credit. Remember, it’s how we finish the race, not how we start it. The key is simply believing, and the rest God takes responsibility for!!!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Trevin’s Seven – Trevin Wax - January 25, 2013

    [...] Two Ways to Know You Are Saved (J. D. [...]

  2. Destinations « Luggaged - January 25, 2013

    [...] J D Greear helpfully gives us two ways believers know they are saved. [...]

  3. 2 Ways to Know You Are Saved - January 26, 2013

    [...] these things start to make you sick.Read the rest of the article on J.D. Greear’s blog here. You can also pre-order his new book, Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart. /* /* Filed Under: Other [...]

  4. 2 Ways to Know You Are Saved | Already Not Yet - January 29, 2013

    [...] J.D. Greear: [...]

  5. Links I Like | My World - January 29, 2013

    [...] J.D. Greear on 2 ways to know you are saved. [...]

  6. The Goods « Core Fellowship – South Shores Church - February 1, 2013

    [...] 2 Ways to Know You’re Saved: “In 1 John 5:13–18, John identifies 2 ways that we can be sure of our salvation…” [...]

  7. 2 Ways to Know You Are Saved | Time For Discernment - February 4, 2013

    [...] http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2013/01/2-ways-to-know-you-are-saved.html Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in KFD. Bookmark the permalink. ← When the Wind is Against You [...]

  8. Most go to hell - Page 4 - Christian Forums - February 20, 2014

    [...] 2 Ways to Know You Are Saved | J.D. GREEAR I will always will pray, how do u know u will not go to hell. No one will be sure. [...]

  9. In all things | gringa mom - November 27, 2015

    [...] plays out, I pray we know God’s compassion and mercy throughout this waiting period.  If you know Christ personally, please keep us in your [...]

  10. May 1 – 1 John 2:3-6 – A Beneficial Result of Obedience | Makakilo Baptist Church - April 28, 2016

    [...] Two Ways to Know You are Saved (Read – 10min) [...]

  11. Top Drawer Friday – 09.01.16 – Robert Dial Jr. - September 2, 2016

    [...] 2 Ways to Know You Are Saved – J.D. Greear [...]

Leave a Reply


Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>