In the Wednesday night children’s ministry at my local church, we have been going through a modified catechism based on the 1689 Baptist Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism. We just finished covering the work of the Holy Spirit in redemption. The doctrine of regeneration was taught, and the kids were exposed to the bold and blunt truth that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again (John 3:3). We explained what it meant to be born again.
I attempted to encourage the kids with this doctrine to bolster their assurance. I emphasized that regeneration is great news because it assures us that we cannot blow our salvation. The Holy Spirit gives us new hearts and creates faith in our hearts. So, even our act in the new birth (saving faith) is wrought by God. Knowing that salvation belongs entirely to God brings great comfort to doubting souls. But I do remember when I was first exposed to the doctrine of the new birth. While it is an encouraging doctrine, it is only encouraging for those to whom it applies. For those who are not born again, there is not joy but terror found in this doctrine. The question becomes, “Am I really born again?” And make no mistake; young believers doubt their salvation and ask this questions as much as older believers.
One 5th grader in particular came up to me during the snack portion of our ministry and said, “I’m not sure if I am really saved.” A very fruitful and revealing discussion followed, but how many of you have said or at least thought this very thing? Our indwelling sin, Satan, our own faulty perspectives, and many other things cause us to doubt whether or not we are saved, whether or not we are truly born again.
In John Piper’s book on the new birth, Finally Alive, he gives eleven evidences of the new birth (pp. 125-128). I just finished reading this book and found tremendous encouragement from these evidences. He gleans each of them from the letter of First John. To be sure there are more, but this list is comprehensive. If you tend to question or doubt your salvation, take a look at your life and see how God has created new life in you. May these eleven evidences be your guide to assurance. Allow them to guide your prayers and desires for the Christian life.
1. Those who are born of God keep his commandments (1 John 2:3-4; 3:24).
2. Those who are born of God walk as Christ walked (1 John 2:5-6).
3. Those who are born of God don’t hate others but love them (1 John 2:9; 3:14; 4:7-8, 20).
4. Those who are born of God don’t love the world (1 John 2:15).
5. Those who are born of God confess the Son and receive him (1 John 2:23; 4:15; 5:12).
6. Those who are born of God practice righteousness (1 John 2:29).
7. Those who are born of God don’t make a practice of sinning (1 John 3:6, 9-10; 5:18).
8. Those who are born of God possess the Spirit of God (1 John 3:24; 4:13).
9. Those who are born of God listen submissively to the apostolic Word (1 John 4:6).
10. Those who are born of God believe that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 5:1).
11. Those who are born of God overcome the world (1 John 5:4).
Mathew Gilbert is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.