Ask a person if he is a Jew, and right back you get your answer, yes or no. There is no doubt in his mind about that. Ask him is he is a Mason, and there you are again. A positive answer. He knows beyond a doubt. But ask him if hes a Christian! “Well, I hope so,” he may reply.
Others may answer, “Yes sir!” And then if you ask, “How do you know you are a Christian?” you will likely hear, “Well, I just know that I am.”
Paul plainly tells us how you can know whether you are a Christian, a child of God. “The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God.” (Rom. 8:16 ASV).
You will notice that there are two witnesses, not one as many suppose. God’s Spirit does not testify to your spirit, but the two spirits jointly testify. If one testifies to another, there is only one witness. If they testify with each other, there are two witnesses. So the two witnesses must join in making testimony that we are children of God.
But how does the Spirit testify? He testifies by words: “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth, combining spiritual things with spiritual words.” (1 Cor. 2:13 ASV).
But we ask the question: “What is this testimony that the Spirit bears with reference to ones being a child of God?” Is it a new revelation, borne directly to us by the Holy Spirit? It is not. God has already given men all the testimony by the Holy Spirit that they will ever get. Look at this passage: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness . . .” ([Emph. GO] 2 Pet. 1:3). Notice that “hath given.” Two thousand years ago, all things pertaining to life and godliness had been given. The Spirit has already borne His testimony. Why expect anything further?
Is the Spirit’s testimony a matter of our feelings? It is not. Many people talk about how they “feel” in religion. They think if they feel good, they are saved. If they don’t feel something strange, and if they feel bad, they think they are unforgiven and lost.
Feelings are deceitful. Jacob listened to the false reports of his sinful boys about Joseph, and looked upon Joseph’s coat that was bloody (Gen. 37:31-35), and “felt” that his boy was dead. But his feeling deceived him. A person can be happy and contented in a false religion if he believes the false religion to be right. True religion will make a person joyful and happy, but joy and happiness is no sign that one is saved. It is a sign that he “thinks” he is saved.
Sincerity is no evidence of being a Christian. True Christians are sincere, but others are sincere too. Jacob was sincerely mistaken when he said he would see his son no more this side of the grave. Paul was sincerely mistaken when he persecuted the church.
The combined testimony of God’s Spirit and man’s spirit offer us knowledge as to whether we are Christians. The Holy Spirit testifies as to the way of pardon through the word of God, and man’s spirit testifies as to whether he has obeyed that way. Here is the way it is done:
The Spirit says, “. . . Whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).
Man’s spirit says, “I have done this”, or “I have not done this.”
The Holy Spirit says, “. . . Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3).
Man’s spirit says, “I have repented”, or “I have not repented.”
God’s Spirit says, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).
Man’s spirit says, “I have been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of my sins”, or “I have not been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of my sins.”
Any honest, intelligent person can take the Spirit’s testimony as to how to obtain pardon, compare that plan with what he has or has not done, and know beyond a doubt whether he is a Christian. You know whether you are a believer, don’t you?
Do you know whether you have turned your heart to God? Do you know whether you have been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins? Then in the light of the full testimony of the Holy Spirit, and in the light of honest conviction about your own actions, you can know whether you are a Christian.
Regardless of how much you may feel you are saved, of how your own spirit testifies to that effect, the Holy Spirit must corroborate that testimony by His, which is the word of God. A man is never saved before the Spirit says he is.