Ask Your Preacher
Do you have to be baptized to go to heaven?
Immersed In Questions
Dear Immersed In Questions,
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).
I am a bit new to Christianity. I feel really out of place in church and appreciate all the answers so far. I have read the Bible but don't fully understand it; I'm workin’ on it. I had an experience with God where He showed me that He was real, and I started reading directly after that. This question revolves around will. After my first experiences with God, I felt a dramatic change in my life. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to follow the rules to a tee. I wanted to do God's will and have His will done through me. I would've done just about anything, and I could strongly sense God controlling and leading my life. He was presenting opportunities and challenges and speaking to me on a very normal basis. This feeling slowly dwindled, and I don't know how to get it back. Furthermore, to be quite honest, I don't really WANT to get it back. At the present, I don't want to get close to God by doing His will, studying, or even praying sometimes. I would rather do my own will. I know it's wrong. I know our relationship with God is the only thing on this world that really matters, but for some reason, I just don't really feel like doing it.
But I would like to feel like doing it because I know I should. That was the single greatest feeling I've ever experienced, but for some reason (I don't really know why), I just don't seem to want it anymore.
Not In The Mood
Dear Not In The Mood,
Our closeness to God isn’t defined by how close we feel to Him or by any personal revelation we think we receive… the Scriptures are our compass, not our emotions. When the Bible was perfectly completed, all prophecy and individual revelations were done away with (1 Cor 13:9-10). Paul told Timothy that he was approved by God when he rightly handled the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Col 1:5 says that we have hope through the Word of God, and Eph 1:13 says we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of salvation.
Many people wholeheartedly believe that they are pleasing to God but will be condemned on the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:22-23). Feelings can be deceptive, but God’s Word is unchanging, unbiased, and able to rightly divide our lives and character (Heb 4:12). If you want to know whether or not you are pleasing God, compare your life to the Scriptures. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).”
It is very common for people to have an initial burst of enthusiasm when they first learn about Christ. Matt 13:20-21 tells about the person that has an unrooted love of God – that is true for lots of folks. The key for you is that you need to be different. You need to put out the effort even when you don’t feel like it. We are defined by what we do when it is hard, not when it is easy.
Part of your problem may be that you aren’t amongst a group of people that are feeding you the Word of God. Many churches teach emotionalism but not Scripture, and that leaves you feeling defeated the first time things get difficult. If you would like help finding a congregation near you that faithfully stands by God’s Word, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will help you locate one.
I want to know: how do you test your faith?
Dear Feeling Testy,
2 Cor 13:5 says that we should test to see whether we are in the faith. Paul is referring to the fact that we should examine ourselves to see whether we are living faithfully. Paul also taught this concept in 1 Cor 11:28-31. We test ourselves by comparing our lives to the Bible. Within the Bible are the words that create a faithful life (Rom 10:17, Rom 1:16-17).
Are we predestinated to be saved according to Acts 13:48 and Ephesians 1:4-5 amongst others? Is Calvinism true about predestination?
Chosen By God
Dear Chosen By God,
We here at AYP firmly believe in election, grace, and predestination because they are all terms clearly mentioned in the Bible. The important questions to ask are:
- How are we elected?
- Who receives grace?
- What is predestined?
Many false doctrines have been created because people failed to ask these questions. Calvinism (a very popular false doctrine that has infected many churches) teaches that people are elected by God without any conditions and that it is impossible to choose to serve God; it is all up to God. It also teaches that grace can never be lost and that it is impossible to fall away even if you become an axe-murderer or live a homosexual lifestyle. Calvinism also teaches that God predestined specific people throughout history to be saved and that only those specific individuals will go to heaven – everyone else is lost by default. (For further information on Calvinism, please read “Calvin And Sobs”.) This is an example of how the words ‘election’, ‘grace’, and ‘predestination’ have been abused when we didn’t clarify their biblical meanings.
God teaches that He has elected certain people to be saved. John 6:44-45 says that God draws people to Him through the Bible. When we listen to what the Bible says, we are called by God. 2 Thess 2:14 makes it even clearer when it says that we are called through the Gospel. ‘Called’ is another word for ‘elected’.
Those who turn to Christ will receive grace. ‘Grace’ means ‘unmerited or undeserved favor’; grace is a gift you haven’t earned… in this case, it is the gift of salvation. We receive grace when we live by faith (Eph 2:8). Jesus died and paid a price none of us could ever pay – the price of our sins. When we walk according to His teachings, His blood cleanses us from sin (1 Jn 1:7). A faithful life isn’t a perfect life, but it is a life that is guided by God’s Word (Rom 10:17).
The Bible also teaches that God predestined something to be saved. ‘Predestined’ means ‘to set the limits’. Before God made anything, He set the limits of who would be saved and who wouldn’t (Eph 1:5). God said that those in Christ will be saved (2 Tim 1:9). Everyone who is washed in the blood of Jesus will be saved – He is the only way to God (Jhn 14:6). God predestined only a certain group of people to be saved – the church (Acts 20:28). The question we must all ask ourselves is: am I a part of God’s church?
Does Acts 16:30-31 mean baptism is not required for salvation? Paul said, “Believe and you will be saved”… not believe and be baptized.
Dear Without Water,
Baptism is a requirement for salvation and Paul never taught that it wasn’t required. It is important to remember to keep all verses that we read in context and to compare those verses to the rest of the Bible.
For example, Paul told the Philippian jailer that he needed to believe in Jesus in order to be saved… but then what did the jailer do? In the very next verse (Acts 16:32) it says Paul preached to them about Jesus, and then (Acts 16:33), the jailer was baptized. So what does it look like to believe in Jesus? You get baptized.
Also, the Bible says that we have to take the sum of God’s Word if we want to understand a subject (Ps 119:160). A single verse can be abused to say just about anything we want it to, but when we take the whole Book we get God’s wisdom. Rev 22:18-19 says to never add or subtract from God’s Word. When we look at other verses about salvation, we see that many things are required to be saved. We must have faith (Eph 2:8), repent (Acts 3:19), confess Christ (Matt 10:32), and be baptized (1 Pet 3:21, Mk 16:16). In short, if we want to know the truth, we need to take the whole Bible to get it.