Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

SALVATION

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Keeping Under The Cap

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
How many times will God forgive me?  I’ve messed up many times and have repeated the same sin numerous times.  I always beg wholeheartedly for forgiveness and continue to try, but I keep falling, but I get back up, ask for forgiveness and strength, and continue to press on.  I know that one day I will finally conquer this sin through the glory and power of God, but I’m just curious if there is a limit at which He will stop forgiving me for the same sin, even if I truly want to stop.

Sincerely,
What’s The Quota?

Dear What’s The Quota,

There are two parts to your question:

  1. How many times can I ask for forgiveness for the same sin?
  2. How do I remove this sin from my life?

The answer to the first question is simple. You can ask for forgiveness an innumerable amount of times. Christ told Peter that we should forgive ‘seventy times seven’ (Matt 18:21-22). Paul was forgiven of his sins even after killing christians and actively persecuting the church (1 Tim 1:16). As often as we truly repent, God is ready to forgive (Lk 17:4). It is quite possible to truly repent of something and then find yourself doing that same thing not minutes later. It happens in arguments all the time! You say something mean, apologize, then find yourself upset again, and again use rash words. The repeating of the cycle is not necessarily an indication of false sorrow.

However, the second part of your question deals with stopping this cycle. God will forgive you for stumbling again into the same sin, but only if you are truly attempting to change your mind. Paul reminds us that we are to do everything we can to flee from the slavery to sin (Rom 6:1-2, Rom 6:12-13). Without knowing what sin you are caught up in, I can’t give specific advice, but I recommend getting help if it is as consuming as you say. Many sins can become addictions that are very hard to break. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Are you trying to change all on your own? God says two are stronger than one (Eccl 4:9-10). In the case of sin like pornography, many people try and struggle through it alone without seeking help because of the shame involved in it becoming known. This rarely, if ever, works. Telling someone, even just one trusted friend, and using things like Covenant Eyes accountability software can make all the difference in such circumstances.
  2. Are you putting yourself in compromising situations? People with drug and alcohol addictions are often tempted back into their old habits by drinking buddies or parties where drugs are made available. You may need to cut off certain people and habits from your life in order to escape that sort of sin. Remember, Christ said it would be better to remove even your own hand if it would free you from a sin (Matt 5:30).

Removing sin from our lives is a constant struggle. God is ready to forgive you ‘seventy times seven’ as you fight to defeat this sin, but you must look yourself in the mirror and make sure you are taking the steps necessary to change your life.

Last Worst Decision

Friday, August 18, 2017
I have a friend that says he is a true born-again christian, but he has been having a lot of problems in his life and has thought about taking his own life.  His question was if you were to take your own life, even if he is really saved, if he was to do something like that, he wanted to know if he would go to hell.  I told him I didn’t think so; I think once you are saved under Jesus’ blood, you’re always saved no matter what.  Is there any verse in the Bible that talks about that?  If so, could you give that to me, so that I can talk to my friend?  Thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Friend To The Hurting

Dear Friend To The Hurting,

People can lose their salvation. Heb 6:4-6 and Heb 10:26-27 outline that if someone rejects God’s Word (even after becoming a christian), they will go to hell just like any other unbeliever. And that is the key to the whole thing – is suicide an example of rejecting God’s Word and sinning willfully?

Suicide certainly is condemned. Suicide is murder, self-murder, and is therefore very clearly a sin (Rev 21:8). The only difference between suicide and murdering someone else is that you don’t get a chance to repent after suicide. Suicide is a final decision and leaves no room for correction or for asking forgiveness. Therefore, in most cases, it would be fair to say that suicide will send you to hell. It is a willful act of disobedience against God without opportunity for repentance.

We here at AYP only hesitate to say, “All people who commit suicide go to hell,” because God never specifically makes that statement. The final judgment belongs to God (Heb 12:23), but we certainly wouldn’t want to face that judgment with our own blood on our hands.

Frustrated Feelings

Friday, August 11, 2017
Why do I feel forsaken by the Lord?  I know I’m not "good" in God’s eyes because of the things I do, but I don’t want to be this way.  I want to be a christian; why do I feel as if the Lord doesn’t want to work with me?  Yet, are there any specific things I should say and do?  I used to have anger problems; I still do, but I read the Bible and learned that we must humble ourselves, and I try to.  I used to break things and use terrible language, but I have calmed from that.  I use bad language when I’m mad, but I also try to restrain myself.  My family said that God won’t force Himself onto you, and for years, I wouldn’t ask because I didn’t think I wanted it, but now I ask, and I know God hears me, but I just don’t know what to do.  Please, if there is anything I should know, I would love to hear back from you.  Thank you.

Sincerely,
Without A Compass

Dear Without A Compass,

One of the unfortunate side effects of the “faith only” teaching that is so prominent in today’s religious world is that it leaves people (like yourself) without any sense of direction.  What you do does matter to God.  James says that only when faith is combined with works will our faith come alive (Jas 2:17-18).  We can never earn salvation (Eph 2:8-9), but there is an expectation that we obey God and draw near to Him (Heb 7:25).  There are specific things that God wants us to do to be saved.

If you want to know what the Scriptures say it takes to become a christian, we recommend you read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”.  After that, it is important that you become a part of a faithful congregation and attend regularly (Heb 10:24-25), so you can grow (1 Pet 2:2).  Not all congregations are faithful; if you would like help finding a congregation that teaches only what your Bible says, we would be happy to assist you.  Our e-mail is askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.

Just Add Water

Tuesday, August 08, 2017
I see a lot of questions on baptism and a lot of different opinions.  In Romans 10:9, it says that if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be SAVED.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  Verse 13 states, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  I have found over 300 verses promising salvation for those who simply believe in the name of the Lord.  Why are you so focused on baptism for salvation?  Yes, it is very important, but I do not see anything saying if I'm not baptized, I'm not saved.  I do see, though, that if I don't believe, I do not get eternal life.

Sincerely,
Full Of Belief

Dear Full Of Belief,

Everyone agrees that we must believe in order to be saved because there are many verses that point out the importance of faith (‘belief’ and ‘faith’ are the same word in the Greek language).  However, just because one thing is required for salvation doesn’t mean other things aren’t also required.  You mentioned Rom 10:9 (which states that confession is a requirement of salvation).  Rom 8:24 says that we are saved by hope.  Rom 10:1-2 says that knowledge is a requirement for salvation (knowledge of God’s Word – Rom 10:17, Rom. 1:16).  2 Thess 2:10 says that love of truth is a requirement for salvation.  All of these things are requirements for salvation.  God tells us that the sum of His Word provides us with the truth (Ps 119:160) and that we can’t add or subtract a single verse (Rev 22:18-19).

There are verses that teach that belief saves you (Acts 16:30-31), but there are also verses that teach that baptism saves you (1 Pet 3:21 is the clearest).  If we cut out baptism, which is mentioned in every single case of christian conversion, we can no longer say that we are taking the total of God’s Word.  We are called friends of Christ when we do what He commands us (Jhn 15:14).  He commands us to be baptized to wash away our sins (Acts 22:16)… if we want a new life free of sin, we must be buried with Him in baptism as He commands us (Rom 6:3-4).  You mentioned Rom 10:9 as a very simple verse – confess with your mouth and believe with your heart, and you will be saved.  Mk. 16:16 is equally simple – “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”.

Going For Pope Pt. 2

Thursday, August 03, 2017
Based on your response regarding the authority to interpret the scriptures under the heading “Going for Pope”, I was hoping you could clarify a few things.  How can two local congregations, relying on Scripture alone for all matters of faith and practice, still be diametrically opposed doctrinally?  This is from my father-in-law’s local independent Baptist church under the “what we believe” section of their website:
  • The Bible (KJV) to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God (II Peter 1:20,21)(I Peter 1:23-25)
  • The Bible is to be the sole source for all matters of faith and practice (II Timothy 3:16)
  • There is one true and living God revealed to us as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three separate personages in one divine being (I John 5:7)
  • The only way of salvation is by grace through faith in the atonement and righteousness of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8)
  • It is the duty of all to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:9)
  • Nothing can separate true believers from the love of God and they are kept by His power through faith unto salvation (I John 5:10-13)
  • In the pre-millenial return of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous unto life eternal (I Thessalonians 4:15 18) (Revelations 21:8)
  • In the autonomy of the local church, and that it is to be self-supporting, self-governing, not dependent on any ecclesiastical organizations; solely dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:16-19)
  • The church is the divine means of spreading the gospel and it is our duty to support missions at home and abroad (Matthew 28:18-20)

The pastor of that congregation has studied the Bible for over forty years and can provide scriptural support for every doctrine that he teaches.  They consider themselves a model New Testament church and believe they are lead by the Holy Spirit when interpreting Scripture.  They rely on no creeds or traditions and go as far as teaching that any other congregation that doesn’t hold similar beliefs are not truly “saved” christians.  In direct opposition to what your local church of Christ congregation teaches, they believe baptism is symbolic only and not necessary for salvation.  Once a believer is saved, they are always saved. You must tithe ten percent or be cursed by God.  They practice communion once every four months.  They use musical instruments in worship service.  They believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. They use all the same criteria you mentioned in your previous responses (Bible as the sole rule of faith), and yet, you would disagree with them (using the very same Scriptures)!  Can you elaborate on your previous answer given this scenario?

Sincerely,
Needing More

Dear Needing More,

We will admit that Baptist churches are much more Bible-centered than most of the denominational world, but just because they say that they do exactly what the Bible says doesn’t make it true.  Many of the things that your father-in-law’s congregation believes are right, but there are some glaring practices that simply ignore Scripture.  Remember, if you avoid or ignore verses, that is just as bad as adding creeds (Rev 22:18-19).  We have to take every Bible teaching, no matter how unpopular, and accept it in order to truly call ourselves a “Bible-only” congregation.  We don’t disagree with your father-in-law when he uses Scriptures; we would disagree with him when he ignores or avoids Scripture.  So let’s take a look at a couple of areas that this Baptist church is ignoring obvious Bible text.

  1. Baptism is necessary for salvation.  This is one of the clearest teachings in the New Testament.  Peter literally wrote, “Baptism saves you” in 1 Pet. 3:21.  Mark 16:16 teaches that when you believe and are baptized, you are saved.  There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism.  If a church is teaching that baptism is only symbolic… it is ignoring the text.  In fact, the Baptist church’s manual (which is a lot like a creed) specifically says, “Baptism was the door into the church; now it is different” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22).  Feel free to read our article “Baptism” for further Scriptures on this topic.
  2. The Bible openly teaches that you can lose your salvation.  Gal 5:4 says that people can be “severed from Christ” and “fall away from grace”.  1 Tim 4:1 also warns that people will fall away and follow false teachings.  Heb 3:12 also mentions falling away because of an unbelieving heart.  The clearest verse on this topic is Heb 6:4-6 because it talks about someone who was “enlightened” and had “tasted the heavenly gift” and yet were “crucifying Christ again”.  Once again, these are simple verses with clear and direct implications.
  3. The Lord’s Supper.  Your father-in-law’s congregation only takes the Lord’s Supper every four months.  Where is the Bible authority and support for that?  Where in the Bible does it show christians taking communion every four months?  Acts 20:7 mentions christians taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week.  Once again, this is a plain teaching with a simple consequence.  If we want to be like the first-century christians… we take communion every first day of the week.

This is hardly an exhaustive answer to everything that your father-in-law’s church does, but it should be enough to give you an idea that there are some clear verses that are being avoided by this Baptist congregation.  God tells us to test all teaching against the Scripture (1 Jn 4:1).  No congregation advertises that they are ignoring parts of the Bible, but many churches do exactly that.

Due to the lengthy nature of these answers and our backlog of questions, if you have further questions on this topic, please include your e-mail address, so we can contact you in a timely manner.

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