I remember the first time Keri and I went to the Gynaecologist to check with the doctor if she was pregnant. We had been told by doctors we could not have children and despite this we tried for five years in vain. Fast forward a few years, we now found ourselves in the doctor’s rooms in India, waiting with nervous anticipation to hear the results of her pregnancy test. There are some things in life that you want to be really sure about, because so much rides on the outcome. Pregnancy is one thing, but even more important than that is the issue of your eternal salvation. You don’t want to take risks about your eternal destiny.
Since the Bible warns that many are deceived about this crucial matter, the assurance of our salvation is a subject that we need to get biblically correct. How can we know for sure that we are saved, or to put it the language that the apostle John uses, how “may we know that we are in him”?
There are many people offering answers to this question, some true and some false. I want to address a few false teachings about this assurance of salvation.
One of the most prevalent false teachings regarding our subject is that speaking in tongues is a sign of salvation.
So then, is speaking in tongues evidence that we are born again?
The apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 12:30 asks the rhetorical question, “Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” Paul is saying NO, not all Christians speak in tongues. That is as explicit as you can get. "Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?" The clear answer is no. Not all speak in tongues.
The scriptures say in Romans 3:28, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Faith alone is the means by which we are united to Christ and justified. Therefore, insisting on some subsequent thing like tongues as an instrument of salvation would go against the idea of faith alone.
John Piper says that “just these two verses, in my judgment, would nullify the belief that you must speak in tongues in order to be a Christian.” He continues to say “If you read 1 Corinthians 12,13, and 14—which is where tongues are dealt with most—you're going to see Paul dealing with tongues very differently than by saying that they are necessary signs of salvation. In these passages he is trying, rather, to minimize the use of tongues—not maximize them—because they're getting the church into all kinds of difficulty.”
Nowhere in the New Testament does it teach that speaking in tongues is evidence a person has received the Holy Spirit. In fact, the New Testament teaches the opposite. We are told that every believer in Christ has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14), when they are saved by grace through faith. Baptism of the Spirit happens at the time of conversion, not separate from it. It is the privilege of every Christian. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 is the central passage in the Bible regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit: “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink”. Notice that we “all” have been baptized by the Spirit—all believers have received the baptism, synonymous with salvation, and it is not a special experience for only a few.
So now that we have cleared up that false teaching, the question then remains, how “may we know that we are in him”?
Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” He added (14:21), “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." If we missed it, He repeats (14:23-24), “Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.” Just a few sentences later, Jesus emphasized in John 15:10, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.”
The apostle John, addressing this same issue in his letter, makes it even simpler for us to know if we are saved, he says in 1John 2:3 “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” He then repeats himself in 1 John 2:5 “whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him”.
The scriptures teach that the evidence that we are saved is not speaking in tongues, but rather in our desire to keep our Lord’s commandments which is demonstrated in our obedience to them.
Ask yourself, first, “Do I know Christ?” Have you trusted in Him as the propitiation for your sins? If so, ask, “Do I obey His Word and seek to walk as Jesus walked?” If that is the direction and focus of your life, then rest assured Christian, that you can know that you know Him.