One of the ways we know we are a child of God is because of God’s discipline in our lives. This is surprising because when things don’t go the way we think they should in life, there is often a creeping, prosperity-esque thought that comes to our minds: “Doesn’t God love me? Because surely if He did, then this wouldn’t have happened.”
I bet I’ve prayed the “sinner’s prayer” a thousand times in my life. Most every week when I was a kid, our pastor would present the gospel, ask the congregation to bow their heads and close their eyes, and if anyone wasn’t completely sure that if they died that day that they would go to heaven, to repeat the words of the simple prayer of repentance and faith after him.
I did. Many times. My reasoning in those days was pretty simple – why not just make sure? I knew I had prayed this prayer before, but perhaps I didn’t mean it then, or maybe it didn’t work like it was supposed to, so why not do it one more time just to be sure?
I wanted to know – I mean know – that I had been saved from the punishment for my sin. I wanted to know that I was a child of God. Perhaps you resonate with that experience. Or perhaps you are still living there now – wanting to know.
Let me encourage you with this, then – God wants you to know, too. In fact, this is one of the reasons the Holy Spirit lives in us – to bear testimony with our spirit that we are indeed the children of God (Rom. 8:15-16). Not only that, but the book of 1 John is largely dedicated to this purpose:
“I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
So how do we know? The presence of the Holy Spirit. The ongoing conviction of sin and desire for holiness. The fruit the Holy Spirit bears in and through our lives. Our love for the people of God and our ongoing confession of Jesus as Lord. These are ways we know. But there is another one, this one perhaps more surprising.