Evidence of Salvation: Fact or Feeling?

By Paul Smithson

If you were in a court of law trying to prove you have salvation, what evidence could you present to prove your case? Peter tells us, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1Pet. 3:15). Every saved individual can and must be able to give evidence of their salvation.

What many people try to present as evidence of salvation is their feelings.  Often this “evidence” is described as a “better felt than told” experience, “indescribable yet, undeniable.”  They state that those who haven’t experienced it just can’t understand it.  But such is really not evidence of salvation at all.  Why did the Lord expect us to be able to give an account for the hope within us to all who ask if they can’t understand it anyway? The devout Hindu, Muslim, and other religious people can present the same testimony regarding their salvation– they feel saved.  Feelings, however, can be deceptive.

One may honestly and sincerely feel that he is saved, but that does not prove that he is saved.  One’s hope of salvation cannot rest on the foundation of feelings, because feelings are not evidence of forgiveness.  Jesus declared, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? ‘And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt. 7:21-23).  Here were people who apparently “felt saved.”  They felt secure.  However, they were surprised to find out that they were not “known by the Lord.” They relied on what they felt would be pleasing to the Lord instead of “doing the will of the Father” in order to be saved.

The apostle declared, “We walk by faith, and not by sight”  (2Cor. 5:7). We must  understand  that  faith  is more than a feeling. Our faith in God and our salvation through His Son Jesus is not based on a sign that can be seen, or a feeling that can be felt, but upon faith in His everlasting word and acting upon it.  When the Scripture speaks of “walking” by faith it indicates that faith must act.  When it comes to “walking” in this life we have two choices: 1. We can walk by sight– i.e. according to human wisdom, human guidance, trusting in what “I” think, see, or feel.  2. Or we can walk by faith– act as God leads.  And how does God lead?  Ps. 119:105 states, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”  Jesus stated that God draws us as we hear and are taught and learn (Jn. 6:45).  We must walk by faith and “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).  An individual who cannot prove his salvation by the word of God has no real evidence of forgiveness.

It takes more than just my witness or testimony that I am saved,  it also takes the witness of the Spirit of God revealed in the Scriptures. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16).  Note that the Spirit does not bear witness “to” our spirit that we are God’s children, but “with” our spirit.  When our witness or testimony of how we know we are saved agrees with the Spirit’s witness, that which is revealed in the Bible of what is required of one to be saved, then we can know assuredly that we are children of God.  Then the evidence our salvation is based upon fact not feeling.

The Spirit through the apostle declared, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin” (Acts 2:38).  When one submits in obedience to the conditions of the gospel he by the grace of God is forgiven. Evidence  of that forgiveness is not based on some miraculous sign or an emotional feeling, but upon the promise of God.  Thus, one can be assured of his salvation and have “hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago” (Tit. 1:12). What is the evidence your salvation?

About the Author
Paul Smithson is the evangelist for the Westwood church of Christ in Tullahoma, TN