Ask Your Preacher
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).
After Christ's sacrifice, the Old Testament law things were done away with (like circumcision and animal sacrifices), so then, why does James say to abstain from blood in Acts 15:20 and also in a letter saying the same thing in Acts 15:29 if this, too, was part of the Old Testament law? And is this after Jesus' death?
Dear Legal Trouble,
Not every Old Testament law was done away with in the New Testament. For example, murder is wrong in both the New and Old Testament (Rom 1:29, Ex 20:13). Christians are not bound to follow the Old Testament law because we are no longer under that law (Gal 3:24-25), but if an Old Testament law is repeated in the New Testament, that means the rule is applicable to christians.
The Old Testament laws concerning what could and could not be eaten can be found in Lev. 11, but there is only one type of food that christians still cannot eat – blood (Acts 15:29). When an animal is killed, some cultures will strangle the animal so as to keep the blood in the meat (as opposed to draining the blood out). Things like blood sausage, blood soup, blood stew, etc. are popular dishes in some countries, but eating them is wrong. All other food is clean for New Testament christians… Jesus said so Himself in Mk 7:19.
If baptism is required, then the criminals on the cross next to Jesus are not in heaven?
What About Those Guys?
Dear What About Those Guys,
There are four explanations for Christ’s pardon of the crucified thief in Lk 23:39-43 (He only pardoned one of them; the other one continued to hurl abuse at Jesus – Lk. 23:39). All of them fit in perfect harmony with the necessity of baptism and the New Testament teachings that salvation begins at baptism (1 Pet 3:21, Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3-4).
- 1. This thief may very well have been baptized by John the Baptist (Mk 1:4) or one of Jesus’ disciples (Jhn 4:1-2). We simply don’t know enough about this thief to say whether he was or wasn’t baptized. It is always faulty to build a doctrine off an assumption. To say that we don’t need to be baptized because that thief wasn’t baptized is an assumption.
- The thief was physically unable to be baptized. 2 Cor 8:12 tells us that God only holds us accountable for what we are physically able to do. That thief didn’t have the capability to get off that cross and be baptized. The argument could be made that he was excused from the law of baptism the same way that a mute man would be excused from the command to “confess Christ with your tongue” (Rom 14:11). This isn’t the best argument of the four, but it is a valid point worth considering.
- While Jesus was here on earth, He had the authority to forgive sins as He saw fit (Matt 9:6). This thief was no different than any of the other people whose sins were verbally forgiven by Christ as He walked this earth (Lk 7:48-49, Lk 5:20). Since Jesus is no longer on this earth… baptism is the only other way to have your sins removed.
- The command to be baptized for salvation is a New Testament command. Those who are baptized become a part of the church (Acts 2:41). If we are being technical (and there is a time for technicalities), the church and the New Testament law didn’t come into effect until after Jesus died and rose from the grave. Until Jesus’ death and resurrection, the laws of the Old Testament would have still been in effect. That thief wasn’t bound to the law of baptism (a New Testament law) because Jesus hadn’t yet died.
No matter which argument seems the sturdiest to you (they all have merit), the thief on the cross example doesn’t negate the necessity of baptism today.
Has God ever approved of polygamy?
Dear Double Vows,
Polygamy is never directly condemned in the Bible, but it is also never condoned . It is never treated as the standard… only the exception. There are scores of examples of monogamy being God’s preference for man:
- Adam & Eve were designed monogamously (Gen. 2:24).
- No polygamy existed until seven generations after Adam (Gen 4:19).
- Noah, the last righteous man of his day, had only one wife (Gen 7:13).
- It is a qualification for an elder (Tit 1:6).
- It is a qualification for a deacon (1 Tim 3:12).
- It is a qualification for a worthy widow (1 Tim 5:9).
- Every New Testament command for a husband or wife assumes monogamy in the commandments (Mk 10:12, 1 Cor 7:3, Eph 5:33, etc.).
- The comparison of Christ and the church to a husband and wife relies on a monogamous design for marriage (Eph 5:22-23).
- God clearly states it as His design for marriage in the New Testament (1 Cor 7:2).
On the same hand, there are multiple examples of the pitfalls of polygamy:
- Sarah and Hagar fought (Gen 16:4).
- Rachel and Leah fought over Jacob (Gen 29:30-31).
- Hannah and Penninah’s rivalry (1 Sam 1:2-6)
- Solomon’s idolatrous wives (1 Kings 11:4)
God allowed polygamy in the Old Testament because the Old Testament was a tutor designed to lead people toward a better and more permanent covenant (Gal 3:24-25). David lived in a time when God allowed polygamy even though it wasn’t His long-term preference for mankind. In the New Testament, we are told God desires for marriage to be between one man and one woman (1 Cor 7:2).
How do the gospel writers reapply the Law of Moses for the New Testaments communities of faith? Also, what aspects of the Law, if any, are still in operation, and what aspects are no longer binding over God’s people? Thanks.
Dear Law Learner,
Jesus was born a Jew (Matt 1:17), lived under the Jewish law (Lk 2:41-42), and even taught His fellow Jews to obey the Old Testament law (Matt 23:1-3). Judaism was the right religion, until Jesus died on the cross and replaced Judaism with Christianity. The Old Testament, the law the Jews followed, was a tutor to lead people to Christ, but after Jesus came, mankind was supposed to follow Him instead (Gal 3:24-25). The Jewish law said that someday there would come a Messiah who would save them from their sins – Jesus was that Messiah (Jhn 1:45). The Jewish law taught mankind that they needed a Savior, and that they should prepare for His coming. Jesus came providing the grace and truth that wasn’t possible under Jewish law (Jhn 1:17). Jesus’ death made a permanent sacrifice for sins that none of the Old Testament animal sacrifices ever could (Heb 10:1-4).
The Old Testament was a tutor to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:24), but now that Christ is here, He has fulfilled the law, and we are no longer bound by its laws (Gal 3:25). The Old Testament still provides many wonderful examples and lessons of morality (1 Cor 10:11), but its specific laws no longer apply.