You don’t. There you go; end post. Everyone go home cause that’s it for the day…
No, actually come back. Let’s speak on a few things concerning salvation because we all hear of Christians (with a Big C) crashing and burning and of secular, Worldly people (with an equally large W) claiming to be finally saved. With the Justin Biebers and Kanye’s coming out to the public as newly professed believers, many are right to be skeptical. I mean, famous people are known to be spotlight hogs, and what better way to generate new interest than to do something unexpected and big?
I get it. I really do. Yet, this is a topic that’s super important, not because it personally affects you if either of those pop culture icons actually have run to the Father or not… or does it? In a corrupt world full of evil, lies, and golden tongues, it can be difficult at times to be able to discern the influences you should allow in your life. This is not just about so-called stars and big name preachers, this is about what it means to be saved and what it means to discern or judge. This is about knowing who is a fellow disciple.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, 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. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. – Matthew 7:15-20
It’s sometimes best to watch and wait because the truth will out in the end. Some will say, wait!, this clearly says prophets and most people (famous or not) don’t allege to be prophets. First, prophets were people who spoke on behalf of God. The point was making sure you and others aren’t led astray by them. That could apply not only to big, name influencers, rabbis and preachers, but also you and me. We, as disciples, speak on behalf of God on the daily. If someone is claiming to be Christians, they are claiming to be disciples, and everything they do and say is on behalf of God.
Fruits are their actions and what they generate in the world. Are they doing good and wholesome things or are their actions shady, debatable, or downright corrupt?
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me – John 10:27
If they recognize and love God’s voice, their words and actions will reflect that in some manner. No one is perfect, remember this and repeat it frequently. A person who is saved will always fail to live up Jesus’ example. That’s the point. We need God. That doesn’t change because we’re saved.
The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7b
Met someone particularly cross, covered in tattoos (really, some still judge this), or otherwise not looking outwardly like whatever you think a believer is supposed to look like? See, here’s the thing. A disciple doesn’t look a certain way. Some will be good at going to church and some will never go. Some will be straight laced and buttoned-up at all times and some will forget to bathe. We don’t know people’s hearts, at what developmental point they are in their relationship with God, nor what their purpose is here on Earth. What we do know is that God can see more clearly than we can whether someone is saved or not.
No matter if someone is saved or not, you should be an example of God’s love. If they profess that they are a Christian, whether they are saved or not (and you CAN’T really know this FOR SURE), you treat them as a follower of Jesus. If they do something wrong, you correct them as a sister or brother. Let’s look at one more verse.
John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone else driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus replied. “For no one who performs a miracle in My name can turn around and speak evil of Me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Indeed, if anyone gives you even a cup of water because you bear the name of Christ, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea. – Mark 9:38-42
If someone professes to be a follower of Jesus and good comes of it, whether the person is saved or not, they still did good for His kingdom. However, if they use God’s name to instead do bad, they are breaking a commandment to not use God’s name in vain.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:34-35
Not only will you see that a truly saved person will treat other believers in Love (like they should Love everyone!), but you should do the same. Nothing is impossible with God, and while we should be ever vigilant, we should also remember to not become hardened. A saved person who has fallen needs our love. A worldly person who has found God needs our love. They need our hope and support. So, if they’ve never actually been saved, they will be blown away by the Love of our God and our family.
To conclude, we can circle back to the beginning. You can’t know for certain whether someone is saved since there’s no telling what is in their heart. However, you can figure out if someone is doing good for God’s kingdom and is a good influence if their actions and words line up with God’s ways and words. Let’s celebrate with hope those who claim to have been lifted and saved. God has saved many condemned, damaged souls who seemed unrepairable. Let’s not be jaded like the world.