Ask Your Preacher
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?
Can you explain what repent means?
‘Repent’ means to ‘change your mind’. A 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 one of the necessary steps to be saved (Mk 6:12, Lk 13:5, Lk 15:7). Read "Five Steps To Salvation" for all the steps involved in becoming a christian.
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.
How many different types of works does the Bible mention? I'm having a hard time figuring out when something is physical work, spiritual work, or some other type of work.
Hard At Work
Dear Hard At Work,
As a general rule, there are two basic types of works talked about in the New Testament. The works of the law are perfect works, i.e. a life without sinning. These are the type of works that Paul discussed in Romans. We cannot be saved by perfect works because all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23, Rom 3:28).
The other basic type of work found in the New Testament is the work of faith. Works of faith are when we serve God based upon our trust in Him and desire to become more like Him. Works of faith are a requirement for salvation – it is impossible to have faith without some sort of action that shows your trust (Jas 2:17-20). Faithful works aren't perfect, but they show obedience and loyalty.
In the New Testament especially, almost all circumstances can be broken down into those two categories. However, as always, context is final judge.
Leviticus 19:28 said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Why don't I hear too many churches preaching against putting tattoos on your body?
The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. This is not a right or wrong issue, but simply one of wisdom. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.