For the purpose of understanding our spiritual responsibility toward various individuals in our life, we could see people as fitting into one of four categories. When we understand something of their response to God we can figure out a little better how to nurture relationship with them while remaining true to ourselves as followers of Jesus.
(1) There are those who do not believe in God. They know they don’t. They simply are not interested. The responsibility of a committed follower of Jesus is to live before that person an attractive life of love and blessing. We can pray for conversational opportunities to present the truth about Christ but we need to be sensitive to their level of receptivity before we proceed.
(2) There are those who do believe what God tells us in the Bible about Himself and salvation from sin. They know they have been given eternal life. Our responsibility (and privilege) is to enjoy genuine fellowship with each other, encouraging each other to live out our faith in deeds of blessing to others.
(3) There are those who do believe and have been given eternal life in Christ but are not sure they will always have it. Our responsibility with them is to present the truths of scripture about the Father never letting anyone remove one of His own from His hand and to pray for their peace.
(4) Then there are those who do not have eternal life, yet think they are headed for heaven. Our responsibility is to ask them on what they base that assurance and to avoid using terminology that offers assurance of salvation when we wonder if they are genuinely born again (i.e. “Now, I know you are a Christian because you accepted Christ when you were 5 years old. I don’t understand how you can deny your faith now!)
Maybe they need some accurate teaching regarding the essentials of the gospel. Many people are laboring under the delusion that they are eternally secure because
they prayed “the sinner’s prayer”,
they went forward in an evangelistic meeting, a Vacation Bible School or a church service,
they signed a card of commitment.
None of those actions gives eternal life. Faith gives life and faith is a gift from God. In the faith God gives, we respond to pray, asking to be forgiven of our sin and yielding our life to the Lordship of God. Maybe we go forward, maybe we sign a commitment card. But faith comes first, as a gift from God, to give us new life.
When faith is given, the life changes. God puts love for Himself in the person’s heart. That person begins to love Jesus Christ and desire to obey Him as Lord. If that is not happening the individual has reason to question the validity of their assurance of heaven.