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).
The Bible says we all must give an account before God. But it also says the blood of Jesus covers our sins, and God remembers them no more. If we are in Christ and do our best to be faithful and obedient, what is the account christians will give before God? What if the account we give is displeasing to God?
Don’t Judge Me
Dear Don’t Judge Me,
The verse that says we all must give account for ourselves before God is Rom 14:12, and it is in the context of explaining that brethren shouldn’t judge one another but leave the judgment up to God (Rom 14:10). The point of that verse isn’t that we all need to be able to eloquently speak to God on the Judgment Day; it is that we each are responsible for our own behavior and choices in life. You can’t get to heaven riding anyone else’s coattails.
If you are in Christ, then on the Judgment Day, your meeting with God will be a pleasant one – He has forgiven your sins and will tell you to enter into His joy (Matt 25:21).
Is the Baptist religion one that goes by the Bible?
Looking For The Truth
Dear Looking For The Truth,
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 the Baptist church 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 to the Bible (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. So let’s take a look at a couple of areas that this Baptist church is ignoring obvious Bible text.
- 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 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.
- 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. Most Baptist churches teach that you cannot be lost.
- The Lord’s Supper. The Baptist church only takes the Lord’s Supper every once and a while. Where is the Bible authority and support for that? Where in the Bible does it show christians taking communion every four months, two weeks, yearly, etc.? 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 the Baptist church does, but it should be enough to give you an idea that there are some clear verses that are being avoided. 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.
Is it biblical to raise your hand(s) during praise and worship songs? Why do people raise their hand(s) during song? Is there a right and wrong way to lift your hand(s)?
Dear Palms Up,
The practice of lifting up your hands during worship is traced to 1 Tim 2:8, but unfortunately, many people misunderstand this verse. There is nothing wrong with literally lifting up your hands to God, but Paul is telling them to “lift up holy hands, without wrath and disputing”. The context is about a certain lifestyle that people were to have. It is similar to the saying, “Put your hand to the plow” in Lk 9:62. ‘Lifting up holy hands’ refers to working, laboring, and serving in a godly way. Christians are to serve God faithfully, without arguing and disputing with each other. ‘Lifting up holy hands’ has nothing to do with how high your arms are raised when you pray; it has to do with the character of the life you live. Are we living holy lives when our hands serve God (1 Cor 4:12)? Raising your hands during worship has the impression of godliness, but living faithful lives actually fulfills God’s command to ‘lift up holy hands’ (2 Tim 3:5).
I need a basic gospel message and, perhaps, some proverbial wisdom for someone in particular. This is a person who claims to believe in God but doesn't have faith that God can deliver her from Satan's captive hold on her. She comes from an alcoholic family, is an alcoholic herself, and is depressed and very emotional when in a drunken state or stupor. She claims she has read the Bible a lot and doesn't see how it is possible to help her change. What's the best approach in her situation?
Where To Start?
Dear Where To Start,
The next time this friend (while sober) brings up the fact that she can’t be saved, offer to show her something. Then open your Bible and have her read 1 Tim 1:15-16:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.
Paul had killed christians, and yet, God forgave Paul and molded his willing heart into a better man. Ask your friend if she believes these verses, and if she does, what is she going to do about it. What happens next will tell you exactly where her heart is (Heb 4:12).