Ask Your Preacher
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 have been talking to four or five theologians, and none of them know as much about the Bible as you guys do. I had one tell me something that wasn't even right. I showed him Scripture. But anyway, I thought you guys might appreciate the fact you know more about the Bible than theologians. My question is: 1 Peter 3:19, who are the spirits in prison?
Looking For The Key
Dear Looking For The Key,
Thanks for the kind words! We’re just glad we can be of help. 1 Pet 3:18-19 is a very difficult passage, and there are a number of different interpretations of what it means that Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison”. Some believe it refers to Jesus literally descending into the darkest depths of Hades to preach to those awaiting eternal punishment, but this directly contradicts other Scriptures where Jesus specifically says He was going to Paradise (Lk 23:43). Either Jesus was wrong, or that interpretation of 1 Pet 3:19 is wrong – we here at AYP will trust that Jesus knew where He was going after death.
The other options for that verse are numerous, but the two most likely are:
- That the spirits in prison were the people that Jesus preached to before or after His resurrection. Those enslaved to sin are most definitely imprisoned spirits (Jhn 8:34).
- The other likely option is that Jesus, through Noah (2 Pet 2:5), preached to the pre-Flood world and showed longsuffering to them, just as He does to us today. After all, 1 Pet 3:20 identifies the “spirits in prison” as those who were disobedient during the days of Noah. Most likely, 1 Pet 3:18-20 is making the case that Jesus has always been patient with the disobedient (even before He lived on this planet as a man), but unless we choose Christ, we will perish just like those of the pre-Flood world.
Is it correct to use the word ‘church’ in place of ‘ekklesia’?
A Little Wordy
Dear A Little Wordy,
‘Ekklesia’ is a Greek word, and ‘church’ is an English word. It isn’t wrong to translate the Bible from its original Greek into other languages. In fact, Jesus quoted from a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew). The word ‘ekklesia’ means ‘the called out’ and refers to a group that is called together for a specific purpose. In modern English, we use words like ‘church’ and ‘assembly’ to express the same definition. The church of Christ is a group of people who have heard and heeded the call of Jesus Christ.
We apply the four gospels to our life today, but, of course, Jesus had not died yet during the time of His preaching. So are the gospels still under the Mosaic Law?
Dear Timeline Troubles,
Jesus was a Jewish man who lived under the Jewish law, and His life records that fact. Jesus commanded His fellow countryman to obey the Mosaic laws for cleansing and sacrifices (Lk 17:12-14). He taught that Moses’ law was right and good, even when the Pharisees and scribes weren’t (Matt 23:1-3), and He answered questions regarding Moses’ laws – like the laws concerning divorce (Matt 19:3-9). So if Jesus’ entire life was a Jewish one, why are the gospels part of the New Testament? The answer: Jesus’ preaching.
Jesus lived as a Jew, spoke to Jews, answered Jewish questions, and preached Christianity. Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom which was to come. Matt 4:23, Matt 9:35, Matt 11:5, Mk 8:35, Lk 4:18-19, and Lk 7:22 all say that Jesus came preaching the gospel to His kinsmen. Jesus preached that there was a change coming and that all the world needed to be prepared for it. Jesus preached the message of a kingdom that was soon to be, the kingdom of Christ that He would buy with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Another reason that the four gospels are part of the New Testament is that we are commanded to be imitators of Christ (1 Cor 11:1). The way Jesus lived is the way christians should live. Jesus preached about a new law, He lived as an example for those under the new law, and He died that we might have a new law. The four gospels are all accounts of the life of the Man that gave us the New Testament.
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).