Ask Your Preacher
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).
How do you know what gift you have, and how do you exercise it?
Ready To Work
Dear Ready To Work,
God used to give certain people spiritual gifts (i.e. the ability to speak in different languages, heal the sick, prophesy, etc.), but those days are over. Read “Gifts That Stop Giving” for details on the cessation of spiritual gifts.
However, the Bible tells us that we each also have natural gifts and talents given to us by the Lord. Some people are natural givers, others natural leaders, still others natural teachers, and so on (Rom 12:4-8). We are told that we must use what talents God gives us if we wish to please Him. Christ’s parable of the talents is a good example of this principle (Matt 25:14-30). There is no way to find what you are good at unless you simply start to work. When we put our hand to the plow, we will find our niche in the Lord’s work. Just start working, and your talents will naturally begin to shine.
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?
My dad has accepted Christ and was baptized (I’m almost positive he has). I know he was baptized a long time ago, but he doesn't show any christian-like behaviors. If he didn't say it, I wouldn't be so sure. He swears when he's mad (which is often). Also, once when my mom bought him this christian book for dads, he got all mad and said that he didn't need her to tell him what to do. He does pray at those big family affairs, but we don't eat together anymore, so he doesn't pray unless it's an event. So my main question is: would a person go to heaven if they accepted Christ long ago but didn't ever talk to Him or think of Him or even go to church? (We rarely go to church, but I go to a Christian school.) Thanks.
Dear Questioning Kid,
God is the final judge of where a person’s soul ends up (Heb 12:23), but there are a lot of reasons to be concerned with your father’s spiritual state. God tells us that it is possible for someone to fall away from the faith after being baptized (Heb 6:4-6). We are warned to not “drift” away from the Lord (Heb 2:1) or “backslide” (Pr 1:32) into old sinful ways. Once we are baptized, we are told to grow in the Lord and mature in our faith (1 Pet 2:2). Baptism is the beginning of a new life, but God calls us to be faithful until death (Rev 2:10).
It is obvious that you care deeply for your dad and are worried about his soul. The best thing you can do for him is to make sure your soul is safe and that you are living the right life, but in the end, he is responsible for his own choices.
Why do we still struggle when we give tithes and offerings?
Dear Giving Up,
The teaching that we will never struggle if we give enough money to God is called ‘The Prosperity Gospel’ and it is a false teaching. The prosperity gospel doctrine teaches that the more faith you have, the more money, health, power, etc. you will receive. They teach that all sicknesses, poverty, and suffering are caused by a lack of faith. This is simply wrong.
Jesus suffered more than anyone – and yet He was perfectly faithful and never sinned (Heb 4:15). When Jesus was asked why a certain man was blind, His answer was, “That God’s works could be revealed in Him” (Jhn 9:1-3). That blind man wasn’t blind because He had sinned, He was blind because it gave God an opportunity to use him. The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (some sort of sickness) that God gave him… even though Paul was exceptionally faithful (2 Cor 12:7). Job suffered at the hands of Satan BECAUSE he was so faithful (Job 1:8). And last, but not least, God clearly states that we must suffer in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22).
The idea that serving Christ will provide you with every physical blessing you could ever want is a perversion of the Scriptures. It is a preaching that is based upon selfishness and the love of money – both of which God abhors (2 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 6:10). Christians should condemn and flee from this kind of false teaching. Don't let anyone rob you of your hope by feeding you a teaching that says you only suffer because you aren't giving enough money.