Ask Your Preacher
Is salvation by faith only or by both faith and works? Passages like Hab 2:4, Rom 1:17, 3:27-28, 4:2-5, 5:1, 10: 9-10, 11:6, Gal 2:16, 3:11-12, Eph 2:8-9, Tit 3:5, 2 Tim 1:9, and Php 3:9 all say that faith is just needed. Especially a standout here is Eph 2:8-9 because I see this verse used often by the Pentecostal/Evangelical Charismatic preachers to prove their idea that faith is all you need and nothing else, not even baptism. I often see these guys preach this idea to young people because they believe they will be more likely proselytes, especially someone who has never even touched a Bible in their entire lives.
But according to passages like Ps 62:12, Matt 16:27, Rom 2: 6-7, Pr 24:12, Eccl 12:14, Jer 17:10, 32:19, Jhn 5:29, 2 Cor 5:10, Php 2:12, Jas 2:14-26, Heb 6:10, 1 Peter 1:17, Job 34:11, Gal 6:7, Col 3: 23-24, and Rev 22:12, works do matter! So what are we saved by, and why are there some passages that talk about only faith and other passages talk about both faith and works?
Dear Mixed Messages,
The Bible says that we are saved by faith (Eph 2:8), but it never says that we are saved by faith only. The Scriptures mention a lot of things that are involved in our salvation. We are saved by hope (Rom 8:24). We are saved by baptism (1 Pet 3:21). We are saved by the love of the truth (2 Thess 2:10). All of these things are involved in your salvation. In order to understand a topic, we must look at the sum of God’s Word on that subject (Ps. 119:160).
We are told that in order to be saved, we must believe in Jesus (Jhn 3:16), repent of our sins (Acts 2:38), be baptized (Mk 16:16), and continue to grow in the knowledge of Christ through the Bible (2 Pet 3:18). Faith is hearing what God says (Rom 10:17)… and then acting upon it. James says that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17). It is impossible to be a faithful person and live an unrepentant life. Faith is more than belief; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). Faith is belief combined with action. We must be hearers and doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:22).
I hear people say Jesus is God; I also hear He is God’s Son; then I hear He is both... so who is Jesus besides just our Savior?
Begin At The Beginning
Dear Begin At The Beginning.,
There are three parts to the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is most easily seen in Matt 3:16-17. When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. Each of them is eternal (they were all at the creation – Gen. 1:1, Gen. 1:2, Col 1:15-17). John 1:1 specifically says that Jesus is Deity. Jesus is different than the Father, but He is part of the Godhead. Jesus even said that He had always existed (Jhn 8:58). The apostles worshipped Jesus as God (Jhn 20:28).
Jesus was also God’s son because He was given a physical body by God (Heb 10:5, Matt 1:18). Jesus also obeyed the Father as a son would obey (Jhn 5:19). Jesus was also the firstborn Son because He is the firstborn of the church – God’s children (Rom 8:29). Jesus is completely deity, but He also has a unique role as the only member of the Godhead to have also lived in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16).
I have a friend who is constantly asking why God didn't make us perfect in the first place since He knew we would fall. I've tried to explain His love in giving us free will, but she can't accept or understand that.
I've always known He created us for His glory, and giving us free will allows us an opportunity to do that by choosing His will for our lives. I just don't know how to relate to my friend in a way that she understands and accepts. Got any suggestions?
Dear Fumbling Friend,
You might try talking about the definition of ‘perfect’ with your friend. ‘Perfect’ means ‘complete’ or ‘having all the desirable and required elements’. Perfect doesn’t mean that something can’t be broken or fail. A car engine can be in perfect condition, and yet, if you don’t put oil in it – it will break. A house can be perfectly constructed and still be destroyed by an earthquake. When God made Adam and Eve, He made them without defect (Gen 1:31). They were made exactly as He intended them – in His image (Gen 1:26). Adam and Eve were designed with eternal souls and the ability to choose their own destiny. They were perfectly designed with the free will to choose to love God or to choose to rebel against Him. In fact, if mankind were designed so that it would be impossible for them to sin – they wouldn’t have free will. God has given us the great gift of choice, and it is up to us what we do with it (Deut 30:19). God could have made us without the freedom to choose, but then we wouldn’t be “in His image”… we would be automatons. If every parent had the choice between having a child that may break their heart or purchasing a robot that would obey their every command… well, the choice is obvious. A robot is no replacement for a child.
How do I know I am filled with the Holy Spirit?
Dear Feeling Empty,
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allowed people to perform miracles was received through the direct laying on of hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17-18). This dwelling of the Holy Spirit no longer exists because it died off with the last person that the last apostle laid his hands upon.
Christians do have the Holy Spirit dwell in them (Rom 8:9) – but not literally. The Holy Spirit dwells in christians in the same metaphorical way that Christ dwells in christians (Rom 8:10). The Holy Spirit and Jesus do not physically dwell inside christians miraculously. They dwell within christians in a figurative way because a christian’s life follows the path the Holy Spirit and Christ set for them.
The Holy Spirit dwells in those that follow the Bible and put to death their previous sinful lifestyles (Rom 8:12-14). The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and when we follow it, we are led by the Spirit. Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God, and the Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:14-16).
How do you know if God is telling you to do something or if it is just a thought? Thank you.
Trying Not To Overthink It
Dear Trying Not To Overthink It,
God speaks to us through His Word. If we want to know God’s desire for our life, we must use the Bible to get our instructions. Faith comes from the Word (Rom 10:17), and the Bible contains all the information we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If we want to understand what God wants for us, we can find the truth in the sum of His Word (Ps 119:160). Prophecies and visions are no longer given to people directly (1 Cor 13:8). Instead, God speaks to us through the teachings of His Son (Heb 1:1). It is normal for our emotions and desires to send us conflicting messages; that is exactly why God tells us to not trust ourselves or any “voice” that some churches tell us to listen for (Pr 3:5). Trust God’s Word, and it will be a lamp to your feet (Ps 119:105).
The human mind is a complex and wondrous thing (Ps 139:14). It is perfectly normal for our mind to make mental connections as we pray, study, sleep, etc. Those mental images aren’t visions; they are just your own thoughts as your mind meditates upon what you have said, read, or heard.