Ask Your Preacher
How do you forgive yourself as God has forgiven you?
What you are asking is one of the most difficult things in life – forgiving yourself. Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people hold on to the guilt and shame of sin far too keenly. God tells us that there are several things to remember:
- Even if your heart condemns you, God keeps His promises. On the Judgment Day, we will be judged by God's standards, not whether or not we feel worthy (1 Jn 3:20).
- We can reassure our own hearts that we have been forgiven when we study and live by the truth of the Bible (1 Jn 3:18-20). The more we immerse ourselves in God's teachings, the quicker we begin to realize that forgiveness isn't about being worthy… but about having faith in the mercy of God.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time... just like all areas of growth.
Lately, I have been feeling like I have not been the best christian that I ought to be. I try to be excited that I'm going to heaven and how blessed I am to know God and living how Christ would have me to, but sometimes I get so upset thinking about all those (including family) that won’t be there with me. I try to always be positive, hoping that others may come to repentance, but for some, I know there is no chance they will follow Christ. Why do I keep lingering on these thoughts?
You are facing a normal and healthy part of the christian growth process. It is a sign of compassion when that you look at those who are lost in this world, and it wrenches your heart. It is okay to be hurt by the vastness of those who have chosen the wide path to destruction (Matt 7:13). Jesus wept over His kinsman in Jerusalem that turned their back on the truth and rejected the gift of salvation (Lk 19:41-42). When Paul thought about his lost fellow countryman, it grieved him deeply… so much so that he wished he could trade places with their souls, so they might be saved (Rom 9:1-3). Paul’s heart’s desire was that his beloved kinsman would be saved (Rom 10:1-2), but he also knew that it was their choice, not his. You are having the same emotions that Paul and Jesus dealt with – take it as a sign of spiritual maturity and growth.
The important thing to remember is that the greatest help you can be to the lost is to be that shining light and preserving salt that Christ exhorted us to become (Matt 5:13-15). You can’t save everyone from their own choices, but, as Paul said, we try and live so that we can save some (Rom 11:13-14).
What should I do when people don't listen?
When people won’t listen there are two options – stop talking or change your tactic. Before giving up on someone, ask yourself the question, “Are my words seasoned with grace?” God tells us that what we say must always be thoughtfully chosen (Col 4:6). Having said that, sometimes people have simply hardened their hearts to God’s Word, and Jesus says in such cases to “not throw your pearl’s before swine” (Matt 7:6).
Is it wrong for christian teens to participate in school dances like prom and homecoming?
Dear Sock Hop,
The reason that many christian parents hesitate to encourage their kids go to prom, homecoming, and other school dances is that they often include activities that are sinful. Modern dancing is designed to be sexually provocative, and it puts young men and women in compromising positions that nurture the sort of behavior and attitudes that lead to sexual immorality and unhealthy relationships. Not all dancing is sinful (Eccl 3:4), but the kind of dancing encouraged at most school dances is not wholesome. We are told to flee fornication (1 Cor 6:18), to do things that are honorable (Rom 12:17), and to avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thess 5:21-22). School dances, at best, put teens in situations that don’t appear godly, and at worst, can lead to things like pre-marital sex. When people engage in the type of dancing so often seen in today’s culture, they act in a way that appears indecent and gives room for the lust of the flesh to overpower them (Rom 6:12, 1 Jn 2:16).
How can I be a Christian?
Looking For Hope
Dear Looking For Hope,
The Bible outlines five things you must do to become a christian. The question, “What must I do to be saved?” is the most important question any human can ever ask. Plenty of groups will pick and choose what they want to focus on. Many groups say that all you must do is “believe in your heart” and you will be saved – unfortunately, this is cherry-picking out one requirement and leaving the rest behind. We must always remember that the sum of God’s Word provides the truth (Ps 119:160). Belief is obviously an important element to salvation, but it is not the only condition. The Bible outlines five separate requirements for salvation, and all of them are necessary.
- Hear the Word. Faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes through the Word of God (Rom 10:17). Until someone hears God’s Word, they are incapable of obeying it.
- Believe the Word. It is impossible for someone to become a christian unless they believe that Jesus is the Savior and Son of God (Jhn 20:31, Acts 16:31, Jhn 3:16).
- Repent of your sins. ‘Repent’ means to ‘change your mind’. That change of mind always involves a change of action as well. Repentance is when we change our mind about what is important and submit ourselves to Jesus and His Word. Repentance is a necessity of salvation (Mk 6:12, Lk 13:5, Lk 15:7).
- Confess Jesus to others. If we have sworn our allegiance to Jesus, we must be prepared to publicly confess Him as our Lord. If we won’t confess Jesus before men, He won’t confess us before God (Matt 10:32-33, Lk 12:8-9).
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus for salvation. Many groups baptize people, but very few baptize people for the right reasons. Baptism isn’t merely an “outward showing of an inward faith” or “for membership”. Baptism is what saves us (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is the point where someone goes from being lost to saved because they are buried and resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:4-5). Baptism is the final requirement to become a christian (Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:41). There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism. Baptism is just as necessary as the other four requirements.
After that, there remains nothing else but to find a faithful congregation to assemble with (Heb 10:24) that teaches God’s Word and God’s Word only (see “Finding a Church” for more details) and to continue to grow in knowledge and practice of God’s Word (1 Pet 2:2). If you would like help finding a faithful church in your area – simply e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help you locate one.