A teaching given for the Alpha Bible Study Series:
If I were to ask you to prove that you are married, you could do it in one of three different ways. First of all, you could show me your marriage license. This is an objective statement, signed by witnesses, that you were married to such and such a person on such and such a date. Secondly, you could introduce me to your wife and children. Thirdly, you could just smile and say “I know that I know that I’m married!”
Now, if you kept showing me your marriage license, but I never met your wife and kids, I’d start to get a bit suspicious. I might think to myself, “I bet he forged that thing!” Or, if you introduced me to your wife and kids, but I went down to the county courthouse and couldn’t find any marriage license on record, I’d probably conclude that you weren’t married at all, but were cohabiting. Or, if you went around with a big silly grin on your face declaring, “I’m married, I’m married, I just know that I’m married!” but no one could find your marriage license or your wife and kids, I would conclude you were either lying or crazy. To be able to prove that you were married, you would need to be able to display all 3 witnesses: your marriage license, your wife and kids, and your inner conviction.
In just the same way, you would need the same three witnesses in order to answer, “How do I know that I am a Christian.”
1. First, you must have the witness of the truth of God’s Word. That is like the marriage license. It is an objective standard to which you can appeal. The Bible tells me I am a sinner who cannot earn God’s forgiveness, but that God in his great love sent His Son to die on the cross, for the forgiveness of my sins and to reconcile me to God.
Romans 6:23 – “For the wages sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Isaiah 53:5 – “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our sins; the punishment of our peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, but the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
2. Secondly, you must have the witness of the fruit of the Spirit which is the evidence of new life. That is like introducing me to your wife and kids, the fruit of your marriage relationship.
2 Corinthian 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation old things have passed away; look, all things have become new!”
Matt. 7:18-20 – “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…. Therefore, by their fruit will they be known.”
Galatians 5:22, 23 – “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (character change from inside out)
Some other changes: new love for God and desire to worship Him, desire to read the Bible and pray, desire to forgive others, a desire to love and help others, a desire to meet with other Christians, to share Christ with others, etc.
3. Thirdly, you must have the witness of the Holy Spirit and the imbedded Word of God. This is like your inner conviction of knowing that you are married.
Romans 8:16 – “The Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are God’s children.” The assurance of our salvation comes from an inward conviction given us by the Holy Spirit based upon what God has told us.
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.”
Romans 8:15 – “We have been given a Spirit of son-ship whereby we cry Abba, Father!” JB Phillips translates this verse as “The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God.”
When the believer has all three of these witnesses, he/she has what the Bible describes as the full assurance of faith, which is the base-line confidence we need in order to grow in our faith. It is my prayer, that you will believe that Jesus died for you and that you will repent and ask him for forgiveness; believe that the Holy Spirit has transformed your life because you see some evidence; have the certainty that you are a child of God and a present possessor of eternal life.