Ask Your Preacher
I have been told something strange by people I believe are sound brethren. They have given me the verses for their belief, but I don't quite go along with what they are saying. As far as I'm concerned, it is not a matter of salvation, but it's just that I have never heard this before, and I want to make sure I learn and understand ALL I can about God’s Word. They say that our souls were with God before we are born. We are sent here, so we can appreciate the love of God and make our "free will" decision to obey Him.
How Old Am I?
Dear How Old Am I,
God formed Adam from the dust of the Earth, and at that moment, He made Adam into a living soul (Gen 2:7). The Bible teaches us that a person comes into existence in the womb, not a moment before (Zech. 12:1). Several passages speak of God knowing people before they were born (Isa. 49:1; Jer. 1:5), but these verses do not refer to the person existing before having a body, just God’s plans for them.
These verses indicate that God know the plans that He has for a person even before that person exists, in comparison to how an architect would know the building he has designed before the foundation has ever been set. Only Jesus Christ spiritually existed before His physical incarnation (John 1:1-3, Jhn 1:14).
At what point in the plan of salvation does the sinner "die with Christ?" Romans 6 seems to indicate this takes place at baptism, but I've heard different explanations for the meaning of Romans 6. Is baptism the burial of a person who is already dead to sin? Or do we die to sin at the point of baptism? Thanks.
Dear Baptism Broodings,
You are right in saying that baptism is when we die with Christ. The most well-documented and clearest doctrine in the New Testament is baptism… yet, it is also the most commonly ignored topic in the religious world. It is impossible to be saved without being baptized. Peter said it best when he said, “Baptism saves you” (1 Pet 3:21). Every person that became a christian in the New Testament was baptized – immediately. You won’t find a single person in the book of Acts that wasn’t baptized. When the first sermon was preached after Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles told the people that they needed to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul tells us that baptism is a burial with Christ, and only after that burial do we receive a new life (Rom 6:3-4). Baptism was so important to Paul that he was baptized even before eating or drinking (Acts 9:18-19), which shows how important it is because Paul hadn’t had food or water in three days (Acts 9:9)! Belief is not enough; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). It is only when our belief is combined with obedience that we have living faith (Jas 2:17-18), and the very first command to obey that God gives us is to be baptized in the name of His Son (Matt 28:19, Mk 16:16). We die to sin when we are baptized.
I believe, or should say I want to believe, I am love and called for something more, but have yet to feel the full presence of God. But tonight, in a very real time of doubt, I was called to a non-existent verse, yet it led me straight to a passage that read, "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;” (Mk 16:17)
Please tell me this is not false faith? Am I not just as important as Moses, Noah, Job, or other "men" of faith?
Hoping For Spirituality
Dear Hoping For Spirituality,
We are all equally important in God's eyes, but that doesn't mean that we all are called for the same purpose or that we all should receive miraculous abilities to prophecy, speak in tongues, or cast out demons. Miraculous gifts are no longer present in the church. They are no longer needed because we have the complete and perfect Word of God (1 Cor 13:8-10). For further details on this, read “Speaking in Tongues”, “The Lost Art of Prophecy”, and “Spoken Like A True Friend”.
Mark 16:17 is not referring to all Christians, but instead it is referring to the “signs that would accompany” Christianity. As the gospel first spread, God used miracles to attest to the authenticity of the apostles’ claims that Jesus was the Son of God (Mk 16:20). These signs and wonders were God’s way of supernaturally bearing witness to the preaching (Heb 2:2-4). Miracles do not make you a Christian; obedience to the will of God does (Rom 12:2). Read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” to understand, verse-by-verse, what it takes to become a Christian. Do not accept anything but the Scriptures. Only God’s Word holds the answers to our salvation (Rom 1:16).
In previous posts, you said that you had to be baptized to be saved. What about the thief on the cross? Wasn't he saved? And what about those that accept Jesus by grace on their deathbeds? Are they in Hell today because they never were baptized? Isn't baptism a work? Then how do you interpret Rom. 11:6 and Eph. 2:8-9?
By Grace Alone
Dear By Grace Alone,
The thief on the cross is a bit of a different issue than Rom 11:6 and Eph 2:8-9. Read our post “The Thief On The Cross” for a full answer to the baptism issue in regard to the thief. Now, let’s address the issue of baptism being a “work”.
Baptism is a work – it is a work of faith. Romans and Ephesians are addressing people who think they can be saved by working hard enough to earn salvation. Rom 3:28 says that a man isn’t saved by the works of law, but Jas 2:18-20 says that there is such a thing as works of faith, and without works of faith we can’t be saved. Works of the law are when people try and earn salvation by living perfect or “good enough” lives. We are told that this won’t work because if we stumble in even one area of live, we are now sinners and guilty as law breakers (Jas 2:10). However, when we admit that we sin and seek to live a life of faith in Christ, we still must show obedience to what the Word of God says (Rom 10:17). The difference is that we aren’t expected to be perfect anymore, instead we are told to admit our sin and move forward (1 Jn 1:9). The Bible says that we must be baptized to be saved (1 Pet 3:21, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:37-38, Rom 6:4, Gal 3:27). If the Bible says it is a requirement, then we must each faithfully accept God at His Word. We should leave the deathbed confessions to God’s judgment and make sure that we are baptized and ready before it gets to that point. Thankfully, God is the final judge of such situations, not us (2 Tim 4:1).
I was reading in Rev 22:19, and I firmly believe that once saved, always saved, but I’m having a tough time figuring this verse out. What are your thoughts on it?
We wouldn’t be so quick to hold firm to the teaching “once saved, always saved”. The idea that you can’t ever lose your salvation is a warping of Christ’s message in Jhn 10:27-29. “Once saved, always saved” is a basic doctrine of Calvinism (read “Calvin And Sobs” for more details on the errors of Calvinism).
The Bible clearly says that you can lose your salvation. Heb 3:12 says that we must be wary and protect our hearts because an evil, unbelieving heart can fall away. 2 Pet 3:17 says that we can lose our salvation if we get caught up in false teaching (1 Tim 4:1 also states this). If we return to a life of ungodliness, then we crucify Christ again (Heb 6:4-6). Rev 22:19 is another great example of how our lives must be faithful unto death if we wish to receive the heavenly prize (Rev 2:10).