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 just wanted to say that I’m not an atheist, and I don’t want to challenge religious views or anything. I am curious about Christianity and have a puzzling question. Since I currently don’t believe in any sort of religion and am unsure whether or not there is a god, if I died right now, would I automatically go to hell just because I haven’t accepted the Lord as my savior? I have morals and am generally a good person, so how could God send me to hell to burn forever? Is He really that cruel? Thank you in advance to whoever reads this; I appreciate your time.
Jesus is a very exclusive Savior. He very boldly claims, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no comes to the Father, but by Me.” (Jhn 14:6). If you don’t have a life of faith built upon following Christ, you won’t be saved. We aren't saved by being good people (everybody thinks they are a good person); we are saved by being in Christ (Jhn 10:9). That may sound harsh, but let’s talk about the evidence that God provides to make it possible for a deist to turn into a christian.
First of all, all faith is built upon some sort of evidence. That evidence may be historical data (like when you trust traffic lights to work properly because they have statistically done so in the past), it may be personal experience (i.e. when you trust a friend because they have shown good judgment and loyalty in the past), or circumstantial evidence (like when a jury convicts a murderer based upon the evidence presented to them – even when there weren’t eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime).
Your belief that there is some sort of Supreme Being is probably based upon some sort of basic evidence from the world that you see around you. Rom 1:20 says that God has provided evidence of His existence in the creation around us. From galaxies to atoms, this world shows the signs of design. A design requires a Designer. God’s handiwork is seen in the finely-tuned craftsmanship of the human eye, just like Nikon’s handiwork is shown in the craftsmanship of their cameras. You’ve done well to acknowledge His existence in a general way… but we would beg you to keep digging deeper.
After looking at the general evidence of God’s existence, it is time to look at the specific evidence of the Bible’s supernatural origins. The Bible is a unique book; it is a book that no human could ever write. We would encourage you to read “Who Wrote The Bible?” for a comprehensive list of reasons why the Bible is a book that only God could have written. Once we begin to see the evidence for the Bible’s divine origins, we have no choice but to ask ourselves, “Will I follow God’s Word?”.
God expects us to follow Jesus, and we stand condemned if we don’t, because He has given us plenty of evidence that Jesus is the one and only true Son of God. We would encourage you to follow the evidence – it will lead you straight to Jesus the Christ.
If you practiced witchcraft just for fun, and you’re a teenager, are you automatically going to hell, and if so, can you change it?
As long as we are living, there is time to change our lives. Astrology, mysticism, séances, horoscopes, palm reading, witchcraft, etc. are all sinful. God condemned that behavior in the Old Testament (Isa 47:13-14). King Saul was put to death by God for seeking a woman that practiced divining (1 Chr 10:13). Any Jew that was found visiting a ‘medium’ or ‘spiritist’ would be cut off from His people (Lev 20:6). When someone became a Christian, they confessed sorcery as evil, and many of them burned their books of the magical arts (Acts 19:18-20). If we want wisdom, we should seek it from God (Jas 1:5).
You mentioned that you did it just for fun and that you didn’t realize the implications. Many sins are that way, but that doesn’t excuse the sin. If you are driving down the highway and fail to note the speed limit… ignorance won’t stop the police officer from giving you a ticket. When mankind makes choices in ignorance, those choices still affect us (1 Pet 1:14). The way to receive forgiveness is to turn to the Lord, and He will give you forgiveness. Read “Five Steps To Salvation” for exactly what it takes to be forgiven.
My friend invited me to go a Jewish church, and I feel kind of funny about going since I am a Christian, and I don’t know anything about their type of services and what they believe. Should I go? Don’t they follow the first five books of the Bible and don’t believe in Jesus? I thought we weren't under the Laws of Moses in the Old Testament since Christ came.
Not A Jew
Dear Not A Jew,
There isn’t anything wrong with visiting a Jewish church as long as you understand that they are lost and need our help. Paul used to visit the synagogues to preach Jesus to them (Acts 18:4). The Jews are not Jesus’ chosen people; the church is. Jesus says that Christians are His royal priesthood and chosen race (1 Pet 2:9). Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s nation (Deut 7:6). The Jewish nation was warned that if they rejected God’s Son, they would be rejecting God, and God would make a new nation out of those who believed in Christ (Jesus explained this to the Jews in the parable of the vineyard – Lk 20:9-19). The vast majority of Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, and therefore, they never became a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ chosen people are those that love Him and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15). The Jewish people rejected God because they decided to keep their traditions instead of accepting God’s Son (Mk 7:9).
I have a difficult decision to make. This guy that I am dating is Hindu. I just found out today. I don't know what to do; is it okay to date people outside of your religion? I have always believed it wouldn't be, but I am not sure. Please help.
Dear Hindu Hindered,
You are right to be concerned. It isn’t necessarily wrong to date someone who is Hindu, but you should be working toward his conversion WAY before marriage. ‘Inter-faith’ marriages have disastrous results, an awful track record, and God warns against them. The Bible’s most notorious example of this is Solomon. Solomon’s idolatrous wives turned the heart of the wisest man on the planet away from God (1 Kgs 11:4). If Solomon in all of his wisdom couldn’t resist the pull of a false religion, we should consider ourselves just as vulnerable. There is too much at stake. If your heart is turned away from God, your soul will be eternally destroyed (Heb 3:12).
No matter how much two people love each other, there are only five possible outcomes for a christian marrying a Hindu, and only one of them is good:
- He eventually converts and obeys the gospel, becomes a christian, and is saved (GOOD).
- You eventually convert and follow Hinduism, and you are both lost (BAD).
- You both make compromises in your beliefs, and you no longer fully serve the Lord (BAD).
- You both eventually renounce both of your belief systems, and are both lost (BAD).
- You bear through a lifetime of disagreement on the most important thing in life. You stand strong in the faith, but are hindered in the amount of service you can provide the Lord (BAD).
The only positive outcome is the first one, and that isn’t any more likely to happen after marriage than before. Either he will eventually convert, or he won’t – serious romantic commitment and/or marriage won’t increase those odds.
God warns against being ‘unequally yoked’ to someone with different values than you (2 Cor 6:14-16). Once you get married, you are ‘yoked’ to that person with a lifetime agreement. A godly marriage is designed around unity (Gen 2:24). If you aren’t unified on your core belief system, then everything else will be affected. Where would your children go to church? How much money would you contribute to God’s church – would he, being a Hindu, be okay with contributing anything at all? What happens when he wants to put up Hindu emblems around the house? These are just a few of the thousands of day-to-day problems inter-faith marriages present. God tells us that a christian should marry someone ‘in the Lord’ (1 Cor 7:39). It is time to have a serious heart-to-heart with this fellow and see if it is possible to get on the same spiritual page.