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How do you Know you are Saved?


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Chapter: 14.31
(Section 14: Selective Salvation)
Copyright © Michael Bronson 1998 - 2005

Do you ever have doubts about your salvation? Do you ever see the depth of your sinfulness and wonder if God could really love you? Do you ever have feelings of isolation and wonder if God even cares about your life? All Christians, of course, struggle with these feelings from time to time.

How do you deal with these feelings? Is there any way to know for certain you are going to Heaven? Is there anything tangible you can hold on to that would give you an assurance of salvation?

John writes in 1 John 5:13, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." The Bible provides us a very clear explanation of what’s necessary to have your sins forgiven. Here you will find verses such as:

Romans 10:13

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

John 1:12

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

1 John 1:9

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Rev. 3:20

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

These are promises set forth in the Bible and you can take God at His Word. They can be viewed as a contract written in black and white. Just as a contract is tangible proof something is valid, God’s Word is tangible proof of God’s promises. If God’s Word says you will be saved if you do such and such, you can rest assured you are saved if you fulfilled His requirements.


A basic premise of selective salvation is God randomly chooses certain people to go to Heaven. This selection was not based on a person "choosing God." This selection was not based on a person claiming God’s promises for himself.

If the doctrine of selective salvation is true, how does a person know he is part of the elect? How can a person be certain of his salvation? He can’t get confirmation from the Bible. He can’t say, "Based on what is written here in black and white, I know God has forgiven me." There is no way of knowing for sure (from the Bible) you are one of the chosen. There are no tangible ways of proving you are one of the elect. I can’t see how a person can have a legitimate assurance of salvation if he truly believes in selective salvation.

Some Selective Salvationists have said, "I know I’m one of the elect because of the fact I became a Christian." There are two problems with saying you must be one of the elect simply because you became a "Christian." First, the Bible says not everyone who calls God "Lord" is going to Heaven (Matthew 7:21). Just because you think you are a Christian doesn’t necessary mean you actually are a true Christian.

Second, assuming selective salvation is true, where in the Bible does it say God has chosen you simply because you have chosen him? Where in the Bible does it say anything like, "You can know for sure you are one of the elect because of the fact you have accepted Christ as your Savior?" I’m not trying to be rude when I say this, but it seems to me a person is being rather presumptuous to assume he is one of the elect simply because he had decided to be on God’s side. Remember, if selective salvation is true, a person (who is not one of the elect) can be genuinely repentant of his sins and still go to Hell. Therefore, if being repentant does not mean you are one of the elect, I ask you again, how do you know you are one of the elect.

Some people may respond to this by saying they know they are God’s child because they feel His presence in their life. They say they can tell God has accepted them because He answers their prayers. Do you realize how many people in cults and other religions also say these same things? True Christianity does not have the monopoly on these feelings. A friend of mine is a Mormon Bishop. He told me he knows Mormonism is true because of all of the miracles God has performed in his life (such as the miraculous healing of his wife from her death bed). Mormonism even uses the "burning of the bosom" as a sign Mormonism is true.

Mormonism, Hinduism, and Satanism all claim to be the true religion. These groups back up their claims by listing supernatural events (miracles, healings, speaking in tongues, etc.) that occur in their religion. I do not believe we can use the feeling of God’s presence in our lives as proof we are His child.

How, therefore, does a person know he is one of the elect? Article 12 (Canons of Dort) tries to answer this with the following statement:

  • "The Assurance of Election. … Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word-- such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on."

Once again they are using the same kind of attributes and feelings that cults and other religions use. These feelings mean absolutely nothing. Nowhere in the Bible does it say you will know you are one of the elect because of these feelings.

The doctrine of selective salvation caused serious problems 400 years ago with those thinking about becoming Christians. The fear of not being one of the elect caused a great deal of anxiety. Since attitude of heart, repentance, and sorrow for sins does not influence God’s selection, people were terrified they were not one of the chosen few. To counter this problem, the founding fathers of selective salvation wrote the following:

  • "Those who do not yet actively experience within themselves a living faith in Christ or an assured confidence of heart, peace of conscience, a zeal for childlike obedience, and a glorying in God through Christ, but who nevertheless use the means by which God has promised to work these things in us--such people ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to count themselves among the reprobate [those who had not been elected]; rather they ought to continue diligently in the use of the means, to desire fervently a time of more abundant grace [election], and to wait for it in reverence and humility."

  • "On the other hand, those who seriously desire to turn to God, to be pleasing to him alone, and to be delivered from the body of death, but are not yet able to make such progress along the way of godliness and faith as they would like--such people ought much less to stand in fear of the teaching concerning reprobation, since our merciful God has promised that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick and that he will not break a bruised reed. However, those who have forgotten God and their Savior Jesus Christ and have abandoned themselves wholly to the cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh--such people have every reason to stand in fear of this teaching, as long as they do not seriously turn to God."  (Emphasis added)

Basically, they are saying if you want to be one of the elect, you should fervently desire election and wait for it in humility and reverence. It also said if you have an attitude of seeking God, God will not snuff out your smoldering wick.

Another thing it says is you should be concerned about God’s wrath if you have worldly and fleshly desires. Yet, when you think about it, these are the same desires of all unsaved people. If selective salvation is true, these are the same desires that the "elect" people have before God intervenes in their lives. Why, therefore, should these worldly desires be a cause for concern?

These teachings are totally contrary to the main premise of selective salvation. The founding fathers just got done saying in their previous paragraphs that the attitude of the person’s heart has nothing to do with God’s selection. Either the attitude of a person is important or it is not important. You can’t have it both ways.

Once again I ask you, if selective salvation is true, how do you know you are one of the elect?



Other Chapters in this Section

PART 1: What is Selective Salvation?
PART 2: What Does the Bible say about Selective Salvation?
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation

How do you KnowYou are Saved?
Are We Lying when We are Witnessing?
Children of the Elect
Statistics do not Support Selective Salvation
Why are there so Many Religions?
Can We Resist God's Call to Repentance?
Can We Seek the Lord?
Why was Hell Created?
Has God Really Selected People at Random to go to Hell?
Why did the Reformation take place?

PART 4: “Choice” –The Achilles’ Heel of Selective Salvation
PART 5: Difficult Questions Answered
Appendix: Foundational Documents used by Selective Salvationists

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