Ask Your Preacher
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).
After Jesus' time on Earth, there were people spread throughout the entire Earth. What happened to the Indians of America and South America? None of them had any idea whom Jesus was until the Spanish Catholic missionaries forced them to listen. There was a thousand plus year difference between Jesus' death and that Spanish conquering. If the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ, how is it that someone who has never heard of Him is going to spend an eternity in damnation? I know this is quite a lot, but as a Christian, I need to search for these answers to further myself as a better minister.
Dear Spanish Inquisitor,
Let’s address your concerns about those who didn’t hear about Christ until many years after His death and resurrection. God has always given every human the chance to live a life of faith in Him. During the transitional period from Judaism to Christianity, and during the time it took for God’s Word to spread across the globe, God dealt with ignorant nations the same way He always has.
We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the nations were under before hearing of Christ. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles (Gentile means ‘non-Jew’) had a law of conscience written by God on their hearts. This doesn’t tell us much, but it does point out that God had a system for judging the Gentiles… it was just different than the system He used for judging the Jews or today uses for judging Christians. Rom 1:20 says that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen in the world around us and that everyone is accountable for recognizing God’s sovereignty regardless of what other knowledge they have. These verses just give a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan; we just don’t know exactly how it worked. We do, however, know that God judges righteously, and no one will ever accidently end up in hell (2 Tim 4:8).
Will a Christian man ever get back on the path of life after sleeping with an adulteress woman?
I Really Messed Up
Dear I Really Messed Up,
Yes, you can be forgiven, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for your actions. Paul said that he was chief amongst sinners, and yet, Christ forgave him (1 Tim 1:15-16). Forgiveness is available when we confess our sins to Christ (1 Jn 1:9) and repent of them (Acts 3:19). ‘Repentance’ means to ‘change your mind’… literally to make a change in how you think and act. If you haven’t already stopped the adulterous relationship, you need to – now. You also need to come clean about it; honesty and truth are a foundational concept in Christianity (Jhn 8:32). Deception destroys; open truth illuminates (Jhn 3:19-20). You have dug a big hole for yourself… it is time to get to work filling that hole back in.
Of course, all of this is moot if you aren’t a christian yet. To see what the Bible says it takes to become a christian, read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”. It is obvious you want God’s forgiveness, and the Bible is the only book that can tell you how to get it.
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).