First of all, we can’t always know who is saved. A person may make a good profession, keep company with Christians, read their Bible, pray, and serve the Lord in some capacity, and yet still not be a true believer. A classic example of this is Judas Iscariot. Outwardly he appeared to be a true follower of Christ, but the Lord knew His heart and on one occasion He referred to Judas and exposed him for being a devil. John 6:70-71 says, “Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariort, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve” (NKJV). Yet the other apostles had no idea that the Lord was referring to Judas. Later, when the Lord Jesus celebrated the Passover with the twelve, Jesus exposed him again with these words, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me” (Matthew 26:20). Their response to this was, “Lord, is it I” (verse 21). No one even suspected that Judas was a fraud and the one who would betray the Lord. He had fooled everyone! But the Lord, Who knows the heart, knows if one is truly saved or not. 2nd Timothy 2:19 states, “The Lord knows those who are His.”

There are other cases where we can know if one is truly saved. The Apostle Paul, in writing to the church of the Thessalonians, was assured of their salvation. We see this in 1st Thessalonians 1:2-4: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, KNOWING, BELOVED BRETHREN, YOUR ELECTION OF GOD.” Paul knew, without a doubt, that they had been chosen of God and were truly saved. How did he know it? By the fruit in their lives! He spoke highly of their “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope.” These are the “fruit of the Spirit” which testified of the genuineness of their profession of faith in Christ. Paul went on in verses 5-6 to say, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And YOU BECAME FOLLOWERS OF US AND OF THE LORD, having receiving the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.” They were willing to suffer great persecution and they did it with joy. This would not be true of one who was not saved. The unbeliever will fall away when persecution arises. The Lord teaches us this in Matthew 13:20-21: “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

I would encourage you to read the first epistle of John. John wrote that letter to all who had been “born of God,” and throughout the letter he points out the “birth marks” of one who is truly born again. For example, in 3:14 he says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because WE LOVE THE BRETHREN.” The child of God will be marked by LOVE FOR OTHER BELIEVERS! In 2:29 he states, “You know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” Every true believer will be marked by PRACTICING RIGHTEOUSNESS! We know that “God is love” and “God is light”; we have just seen that everyone who is born of God will be known by their LOVE and by their pursuit for HOLINESS.

I’ll close with one more passage. “You will know them by their fruits…every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18). A devoted Christian once told me, “I can’t read people’s hearts to see if they’re saved, but I can observe their lives. I guess you could call me a ‘fruit inspector’.” (254.3) (DO)