A Test for Eternal Salvation (Or, How Can We Tell Who is Really Saved?)

by johninnc

  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Sins more than he did before he was saved
    2. Sins less than he did before he was saved
    3. Sins the same amount as he did before he was saved
    4. Need not look to the amount of sin in his life as an indicator of whether or not he is saved
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Must have wanted to become better to be saved
    2. Must have wanted to be rid of his tendency to sin to be saved
    3. Must have believed that his life would change and that he would sin less after he is saved in order to be saved
    4. Must have believed that Jesus took away his sins – past, present, and future
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Will show visible signs (“fruits”) of being saved
    2. Will not show visible signs (“fruits”) of being saved
    3. May show visible signs (“fruits”) of being saved
    4. Cannot show that he is saved based on his behavior. One’s behavior, either good, or bad, gives no evidence of whether or not he is saved
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Will always feel bad when he sins
    2. Will usually feel bad when he sins
    3. Will at least feel bad when he commits big sins
    4. Need not evaluate his feelings, including sensitivity to sin at any given point in time, to help him determine whether or not he is saved.
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Always loves other people
    2. Usually loves other people
    3. May not love all people, but always loves his brothers and sisters in Christ
    4. Need not evaluate his feelings, including love for others (or God) at any given point in time, to help him determine whether or not he is saved.
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Must turn from his sins to be saved
    2. Must be willing to turn from his sins to be saved
    3. Must confess his sins to be saved
    4. Must, to have ever believed in Jesus as Savior, have acknowledged (known) that he was a sinner, in need of a Savior
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. May lose his salvation if he returns to a sinful lifestyle
    2. May lose his salvation if he dies with un-confessed sin
    3. May lose his salvation if he quits believing
    4. Cannot lose or forfeit his eternal life, no matter what
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Will go to be with the Lord when he dies or is raptured
    2. Has eternal life now that can never be lost or forfeited
    3. Will never come into condemnation
    4. Has the benefit of all of the above
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”:
    1. Will persevere in faith and good works
    2. May “backslide”, but will always “return to God”
    3. May fall into sin, but will never stop believing
    4. Has eternal life, whether or not he perseveres in faith and good works, “backslides” for the rest of his life, or even stops believing
  1. I believe that someone who is “really saved”*:
    1. Can know he is saved, because his life begin to change, showing that God has really come into his life
    2. Can know he is saved, because he is bearing the fruit of good works
    3. Can know he is saved, because he is continuing to walk with Christ
    4. Can know he is saved, because he heard the gospel and believed it

Note: If you answered any question with other than “D” (or “4” if you are reading this on an iPhone),  you are confused about God’s plan of salvation. Please click here:  The Gospel

32 responses to “A Test for Eternal Salvation (Or, How Can We Tell Who is Really Saved?)

  1. Bryan, thanks for your excellent post.

    I have prayed for the young man with whom you are interacting. Incidentally, my wife has tried the same approach with a Jehovah’s Witness – exchange of literature.

    On the flip side of seeing people whose behavior is impeccable, but whose profession of faith does not seem to be faith in Jesus (the right One), I have experienced vicious, atrocious behavior from people whose profession of faith seems to be genuine.

  2. Here is an example how living a changed life or showing fruit to prove that you are saved can be dangerous. Just the other day I had the opportunity to witness to a Mormon. This was my first time meeting a Mormon and I started to ask questions, he proceeded to tell me some things that he believes such as we are brothers of Jesus and Lucifer and that Jesus was chosen to create our world and be our savior, he said Joseph Smith was a profit that was chosen to restore the original church among some other things. I also asked him how someone gains eternal life. His response was that it was through Jesus but we must have works and always try to do good he said it is more than just faith, he also quoted James saying faith without works is dead- a typical twist of scripture that many LS love to do. Without getting in to a heated debate I told him that Jesus is not a created being and that He is God equal with the father and through all things where created by Him and salvation was by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, in which I gave him the whole Gospel as best I could using the wallet presentation (except I used my cell phone since it was handy) His response was that he didn’t agree that Jesus was fully God, but he didn’t argue about being by faith alone. Overall I thought the conversation was cordial and we both came to the conclusion to agree to disagree. I pray that I planted a seed of faith in him. I gave him a copy of Clear Gospel booklet and in exchange I took a copy of the book of Mormon, I thought it would be rude not to take it, giving that I wanted to have the gospel booklet.

    So obviously his doctrine is way off and unless he believes in the right Jesus to save him, his theology will fail him and he will be lost for eternity. It is sad to think this because he came across as such a nice humble young man. During our conversation, he told me about all the missionary work he has done, how well he knows scripture (he knows our bible apparently, he quoted several verses), he said he prays and claims to be led by God for direction in his life. In other words he seemed to fit the profile of all the characteristics of what a “changed life” should be, he sure didn’t act like a “fan”. If this guy was in a typical church today, no one would doubt he was saved as long as he didn’t disclose his Mormon beliefs.

    Just a reminder our evidence of our salvation should come from our object of our faith (the right Jesus) not our lifestyle.

  3. Thank you for the links they are very helpful ver much appreciated

  4. Dallbright, welcome and thanks for your question.

    Revelation 22:19 either pertains to the loss of rewards for believers, or could be written to unbelievers. But, there is no way that it can be interpreted to mean that a believer could lose eternal life. If a believer could lose eternal life, God would have to be a liar.

    Below are a couple of links to comments discussing this passage, as well as a link to a booklet on the permanence of salvation.



    Click to access cucuzza-the-permanence-of-salvation.pdf

  5. Please explain Rev. 22:19 as my son believes this is a verse he can and does use to explain how believers can lose their salvation

  6. RAS, good to meet you, I sure appreciate your prayers. The Lord is holding us up throughout this and I expect good things to come from it. This is a great place to be for good Biblical support, I’m kind of getting used to the banned/blocked/unfriended thing, and thankful for the fellowship of those who want to stand by His truth and not compromise.

  7. RAS, You’re not the only one. I have been blocked on some YouTube videos that supports Calvinism/Lordship Salvation and I have had my comments removed for telling the truth about John MacArthur. I noticed that a lot of YT videos, especially the MacArthur and Piper ones have had all comments disabled. It just goes to show that they can’t stand the fact that their false doctrines are being exposed and refuted with the truth of God’s Word.

    They think that they have the “truth” and that we free grace believers have the “lie”, but in reality it is the other way around. We have the TRUTH which is faith alone in Christ alone apart from works, but they have the LIE which is faith plus WORKS.

  8. RAS, welcome and thanks for your comment.

    I think you are correct that many who oppose grace are beginning to own up to it.

    We try to make the distinction between grace and works so stark that no one will misunderstand us. That kind of starkness is disconcerting to many.

    I am also not surprised that you have been banned from anti-grace sites. The guys that run those sites don’t understand grace, or if they do, they don’t like it.

    Conversely, the anti-grace crowd would not be welcome to comment over here ad nauseum. At ExPreacherman, it was Jack’s policy (which I have continued) to entertain questions from people who appeared confused about, or even hostile, to grace. But, once we have determined that someone is not receptive to learning, but is only interested in teaching false doctrine, or being divisive, we cut them off from further comment.

  9. Hello,
    This is my first comment on your board but I am a frequent visitor to the site and have benefited from reading the articles and many comments: A Grace Oasis—an apt description for sure.

    What has prompted me to finally join in on the conversation here is that other sites that I have frequented in the past are becoming more blatant “twisters”. The undertone (of LS) was always there and I have posted a many comments (all appealing to scripture) and most refuting the notion of “Lordship Salvation”. Well don’t you know it? One site did away with comments all together and another site assured me that I was not “banned” but that the “alogorhythms” think I am spam, this coming after a conversation on a thread about “fruit inspecting” for assurance of salvation (they even deleted the thread so that comments already posted disappeared). More than a month later and several attempts to “join in” on conversations…nada, shut out. Hey I have to vent somewhere. I need my iron sharpened.

    I just wanted to share this; maybe others have had similar experiences. I look forward to fellowship here on this site but man how I will miss my conversations with the fruit inspectors that I have previously engaged.

    PS—It felt like I knew Jack. It’s good that he is now with the Lord. Holly, I keep you and your son in my prayers. I’ll keep you all in my prayers.

  10. A copy and paste of a previous comment that seems relevant.

    IF it is impossible for a saved person to ever believe “a different gospel” then why did Paul write to the galatians telling them they were SO SOON removed from the gospel. (Gal 1:6-8)

    IF a “true” believer cannot get caught up in bad doctrine, why did Paul FEAR that brethren would bear with one who preached another Jesus and another gospel (2 Cor 11:3-4)

    IF believers CANT stray from the gospel and not bear fruit then why would the writer of Hebrews tell the “brethren” to put there confidence BACK in the “Lamb” sacrifice that was “once for all” so that they may be rewarded (Heb 10:35)

    IF a saved person can never fall away with bad doctrine why did Paul write this in Acts 20 –
    – 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

    30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

    31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears

    ALL of these things ARE possible for the born again believer. IF they stray from the gospel then the “fruit” will cease to be produced by the believer. BUT salvation will never “cease” to exist for these individuals as that was FREE the moment they believed (trusted) in the gospel.

  11. Elizabeth, We have present day believers including seminary professors who have started out free grace, but have been led astray doctrinally by Calvinism/Lordship Salvation. Such on the list are men like Charles Ryrie, Charles Stanley, Roy Zuck, and J.I. Packer. J.I. Packer openly admitted in an article that he once believed in free grace, but now does not. He is currently an advocate of Calvinism/Lordship Salvation.

    Packer is eternally saved, but will probably experience reprimand and a forfeiture of eternal rewards and also be denied the privilege of reigning with Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ – 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. In Acts 19:18-19 we see that there were many Christians who erred doctrinally in secret by practicing sorcery who confessed and came forward and burned all their sorcery books.

    My mother was a free grace believer, but she was also very superstitious. She was brought up superstitious before she became a believer. I totally agree with what John said and the Bible is clear that doctrinal defection is a reality even among free grace Christians because we have free will and the Holy Spirit can be resisted and grieved.

    Acts 20:30 – Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

    1 Timothy 4:1- Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

  12. Elizabeth, at the time Jesus spoke the verse that you referenced (John 10:5), the Holy Spirit did not yet permanently indwell anyone. So, unless He was speaking in a future tense, that verse doesn’t really seem to say that the indwelling Holy Spirit in church age Christians would prevent them from doctrinal defection.

    One becomes a “sheep” by following Jesus’ voice (believing in Him as Savior). This passage in John 10 was a direct response to the Pharisees, who were not Jesus’ sheep, and were looking to get into heaven another way (see John 9:39-41).

    The Bible does not guarantee, in John 10, or anywhere else, that a believer will not doctrinally defect – even after the start of the church age.

    Luke 8:13 indicates that it is possible for someone to quit believing.

    Scripture has lots of warnings about doctrinal defection. The foolish Galatians were bewitched (Galatians 3:1). Those whose faith was made shipwreck had their faith made shipwreck(1 Timothy 1:19). Those whose faith was overthrown had their faith overthrown (2 Timothy 2:18).

    It is a slippery slope to say that a Christian can never defect, due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, when scripture clearly indicates that it can happen.

    The first danger is that a Christian would fail to heed the warnings against doctrinal defection, considering himself beyond vulnerability to doctrinal defection.

    The second danger is that if one thinks that the Holy Spirit will prevent a Christian from doctrinal defection, it would not take much of a logical leap to think that the Holy Spirit will prevent a Christian from living in gross sin, and so on. This can lead to the temptation to inspect fruit, in oneself, and in others.

    The original point to question 9 in the article was that a Christian remains saved – even if he quits believing.

    And, scripture clearly says that’s true:

    1 Timothy 1:18-19:

    [18] Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
    [19] Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity

    2 Timothy 2:13: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

  13. Thank you johninnc and Williams for the response and article. It’s a topic that I’ve never heard preached on, and that I’ve often wondered about. You’ve definitely given me a starting place for really studying the issue.

    Without a doubt, I believe that someone could confess a false way or participate in Satanic rituals and still be saved. I guess my question is a little confusing- it’s really about the role of the Holy Spirit. I can think of many examples when someone tried to convince me of a false doctrine, and maybe even had Scripture to back it up. But because I was sealed with the Holy Spirit, I knew something was wrong, even though at the time I didn’t know why. This is backed up by John 10:5 (“Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”) Still, there are times I’ve been deceived by people or false doctrine, and the Bible clearly warns against believers being deceived, so I know that it is possible.

    I guess my thought process is that if you had an in-depth conversation with a saved person about salvation, it would be clear that even if they confessed a false way, the Holy Spirit has kept them from being totally convicted of atheism, or Roman Catholicism, or Lordship salvation, or whatever they claim to believe. They may call themselves an atheist in order to fit in with a certain group of people, but if they really thought about it, they would know that the logic doesn’t make sense. I could be wrong and it may be difficult for them to admit it, but at the least, they have doubts about their false way. The Holy Spirit may not control what the flesh does, but it can protect the heart.

    Please feel free to respond/disagree, this is something I am wanting to learn more about.

  14. John John, yes, this puts assurance back on us – “…as we walk with Him, our assurance will grow…”

    “Walking with Him” is not a sound basis for assurance.

  15. Hi everyone. Just read this in a devotional on a conservative political forum I go to and thought THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF MESSAGE WE’RE COUNTERING:

    “We know that it is impossible for anyone who has truly put his trust in Jesus alone to fall away finally from Christ. How do we know that we have such faith, which is the only kind of faith that can save? One way is that we continue holding onto the promises of God and taking our needs to Him, trusting that He is walking with us always. As we walk with Him, our assurance will grow, and we will be confident that heaven is our reward.” (source piece from Ligonier…Sproul?)

    In other words you can’t be sure just by believing. Everywhere you turn!

  16. Elizabeth, In response to your comment, “If a saved person were to stop believing, then yes, I agree they would still be saved. But is it possible for a saved person to stop believing entirely? I would imagine all believers have struggled with doubts. But could a saved person stop believing to the extent of becoming a Satanist?”

    My comment – King Solomon is a true man of God who became an idolater at the end of his life and in 1 Kings 11:5 it says, “For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites, and in 1 Kings 11:7 it says, “7 Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

    Molech was a demon god which required child sacrifices and that sounds pretty Satanic to me.

  17. Thank you, Preston.

    I’ve not seen that before. That’s reassuring 🙂

  18. Mark,

    have you ever commented here before? For those of you who don’t know, I have read a post or two from Mark on the net. From what I have read so far, he is pretty sound.

    How’s it going Mark R????

  19. Mark, the quote was from an article entitled “Are You Really a Christian.” It was written by David J. Stewart.

    The best way to quickly find things is to copy the quote and paste it into your browser, and then hit “enter.”

  20. In your letter, ” In Search Of: A True Believer ” you spoke about Mr. Steward. I and others can not find on the web were Mr. Steward said such things. May I please ask for the exact article that Mr. Steward wrote, that say’s what you said about him please.

  21. 2 Timothy 2

    This is important in relating to 2 Timothy as the writer uses the word “seal” in that passage…

    • Eph 1:13: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were SEALED with that holy Spirit of promise.”

    • Eph 4:30: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye ARE SEALED unto the day of redemption.”

    • 2 Cor 1:21,22: “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;who HATH ALSO SEALED US, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”

    “And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and OVERTHROW the FAITH of some” (2 Tim 2:17,18).

    We see that some had their faith overthrown. This MEANS that they believed. Let’s go to the next verse. The first word is NEVERTHELESS. This is the key. The word “nevertheless” means “in spite of”. So some had their faith overthrown… NEVERTHELESS—or in spite of this…

    “NEVERTHELESS the foundation of God standeth sure, having THIS SEAL, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim 2:19).

    Did you catch it? They were STILL SEALED despite their faith being overthrown.

    NOTE: Read the next verses to explain “depart from iniquity”. YES a believer should depart from iniquity. One reason is to build rewards of gold and silver and NOT wood hay and stubble, which will be burned at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:10-15).

    “But WITHOUT FAITH it is IMPOSSIBLE to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).

    2 Timothy SUMMARY: these people whose faith had been overthrown were producing NOTHING. Their faith was gone! They had no more faith THUS it is impossible to please God (produce). Were they saved? YES – NEVERTHELESS, having THIS SEAL, the Lord knoweth them that are HIS.

    Hope this helped.

  22. Bob, in my iMac, they show up as a-d. On my iPhone, they show up as 1-4. It’s the craziest thing.

  23. Very nice – except the answers I saw werenumbered 1-4, not lettered A-D. So I did not answer “D” at all – always “4”! ; )

  24. Elizabeth, I think it is possible for a believer to stop believing. I think that is what Luke 8:13 says. It doesn’t say that soil 2 believers have doubts. It says they believe for a while, and then fall away. That would not preclude someone from coming back to the faith, but I don’t think there is any guarantee.

    If someone becomes bewitched by LS, they are really not trusting in Christ anymore. So, in a sense, a believer who falls for LS has stopped believing.

    As to whether it is possible for a believer to stop believing and become a satanist, I know it doesn’t seem likely. But, I don’t think the Bible specifically rules it out.

    After all, neither LS, nor satanism, teach a saving message. My guess is that Satan is pleased by both.

    You might like our article, linked below, entitled “Why We Can’t Judge Whether or not Someone Possesses Eternal Life”:


    There is a also a good series of articles by Tom Stegall called “Must Faith Endure for Salvation to be Sure?” It is well worth the time to read it.

  25. I actually have always struggled with number 9.

    If a saved person were to stop believing, then yes, I agree they would still be saved. But is it possible for a saved person to stop believing entirely? I would imagine all believers have struggled with doubts. But could a saved person stop believing to the extent of becoming a Satanist?

  26. Phil, I agree that the results would be troubling. Most of their pastors would probably get the answers wrong also.

  27. John, I think it would be troubling to see the results of your multiple choice test if this were given to church congregations in Sunday services across the country. I afraid that most people would NOT choose the “D” choices.

  28. Great post, John! Amen! The free gift of eternal life is ALL of God and not of us. All we have to do is BELIEVE in Jesus finished work. I can just see that all the A, B, C, answers reflect Calvinism/Lordship Salvation, and Arminianism.

  29. Love this!

  30. Well done John, now if people might just search the Scriptures to see if these things are so, instead of listening to their favorite mega-pastor, or tele-evangelist.

  31. Great stuff as usual, johninnc. I have shared it on social media.

    I’m becoming less and less concerned about what people think of me and more and more concerned that people hear the gospel. I don’t say that to pat myself on the back, but rather to show that God is doing a work in me. And believe me, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.