Ask Your Preacher
Hello and thanks for your time. A true saved person will produce fruit and good works… not because they are self-righteous or do physical outward works, but as an inward spiritual production. Okay, I understand that. But when the Bible says persevere, endure temptation, do not willfully sin, walk in the light, do not live in the flesh, this sounds like free will. So with that being said, if Christ justified me, and the Holy spirit is sanctifiying me each day, and I am saved, then is my persevering and walking in the light self-righteousness or works-based? Jesus said if we continue in His word, we will be His disciples. So if getting saved gives you a clean start, then it seems like we have to maintain that relationship. If we struggle with sin, it comes down to our willingness to resist temptation. So it seems we are having to work to maintain the relationship. We are to fight the good fight… sounds like still a works-based salvation unless the Holy Spirit does it for us through us. Your thoughts? I'm really struggling with this.
Working It Out
Dear Working It Out,
You are saved by works… but not works of perfection. You are saved by works of faith. James specifically says that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:24-26). You are correct; we have free will, and you do have to work to maintain your relationship with God. Faith doesn’t mean God takes control, and you become incapable of falling away.
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).
Faith is hearing what God says (Rom 10:17)… and then acting upon it. 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). God has given us an immense gift – one we could never pay for ourselves. However, He expects us to reach out and seize that gift.
Thousands of years ago, in many countries, continents, islands, etc., far away from Israel, how could inhabitants hear messages like Jhn 3:16? Were they just out of luck because they didn't live in the area to hear it and died and went to hell?
Dear Logistically Implausible,
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about the Gentiles (a ‘Gentile’ is anybody that isn’t Jewish) that lived before Jesus or before Jesus' message covered the globe as it has now, but what little we do know tells us that God didn’t forsake them. When God called Abraham out from amongst his people (Gen 12:1-2), everyone that wasn’t descended from Abraham became a ‘Gentile’. The Old Testament follows the descendants of Abraham and God’s covenant with them; that is why there isn’t much said about the other nations that lived on this planet. Here is what we know:
- God praised and blessed honest Gentiles. Melchizedek is called a ‘priest of God’ (Gen 14:18), and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian (Ex 3:1) and worshipped God. We don’t know exactly what arrangement God had with these men, but we know that they were pleasing to God and not a part of the Jewish nation. Another great example of a godly Gentile was Cornelius. God blessed and heard Cornelius’ prayers (Acts 10:1-4).
- Some Gentiles were blessed by God through conversion to Judaism. Rahab and Ruth were both Gentile women that turned to God by becoming Jews. Both of these women are mentioned in the lineage of Christ (Matt 1:5).
- We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the Gentiles were under. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles had a law of conscience written by God on their hearts. This doesn’t tell us much, but it does point out that God had a system for judging the Gentiles… it was just different than the system He used for judging the Jews.
All of this just gives a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan to save those who lived far from Israel; we just don’t know exactly how it worked.
Will those who are mentally handicapped and cannot grasp the conditions given in the Bible to be saved go to heaven or hell? If all humans are born with the sinful nature and HAVE to trust in Jesus to forgive their sin, how can they have that understanding if they are mentally handicapped?
You aren’t born in sin, and those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children. In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:
- Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
Children and those with mental disabilities do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12).
The teaching that we are born sinful is a Calvinist teaching called ‘Total Depravity’. Total Depravity means that Calvinists believe that everyone is born completely sinful and depraved. A totally depraved human is incapable of doing good or pleasing God. This is completely false. All babies are born without sin and perfect in God’s sight (even David recognized that his dead child was going to be in heaven [2 Sam 12:23]). Sin is not a birthright; it is a choice (Gen 4:6-7, Jas 1:13-15). Humans sin when they choose to do wrong; they are not born in sin.
The false teaching of ‘original sin’ is very common in today’s society. If a congregation teaches that you are born in sin, they are false teachers. Sin is a choice we make in life (Isa 7:15-16), and all humans are born upright and good (Eccl 7:29).
I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. I didn't always, but after having two beautiful, healthy children and seeing so much beauty in the world, I decided it wasn't an accident. I decided that it was all real. My problem is, I'm a huge sinner. I smoke and drink and fight with my mother sometimes. I've had three abortions... one just recently. I can't understand how God or Jesus can forgive me. Is it possible? How do I accept Jesus as they say? I thought I had, but apparently I haven't. I don't know how to. I feel so lost. How do I accept Jesus as my Savior, and what if I keep sinning?
Yes, you can be forgiven. Yes, you do need to start making changes in your life... and yes, we can help.
We recommend two things:
- Read our article "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" to see what the Bible teaches on salvation. Read the verses we reference for yourself (that way you can see that we aren't just making this stuff up!).
- If you feel comfortable, e-mail us back, and we can get you in touch with a congregation near you that can answer your questions, support you as you seek the Lord and make changes in your life, and help you get to heaven. Not all churches are faithful, but we know of many congregations all over the country that will show you what the Bible says and make sure that you get Bible answers for your questions.
We wish you the very best. You are doing the right thing by reaching out, and you are being very courageous in trying to change your life.
My husband and I have a dilemma. I believe that if you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, you should be baptized and dunked in water and say that you believe Jesus is God's Son, and he died to save your soul. My husband believes that since he was sprinkled as a baby and confirmed, he is baptized even though another person made that decision for him. Didn't Jesus' baptism give us the example that we all need to do it on our own, or is that just one church's ritual?
When To Water?
Dear When To Water,
‘Christening’, also known as ‘infant baptism’, is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Children are not baptized; adults are. Baptism is only for believers (Mk 16:16). You must be old enough to understand and repent (Acts 2:38). Infants can neither believe nor repent. It is adults, men and women, who hear the gospel news and then obey it through baptism (Acts 8:12). Baptism must be requested by the individual wanting it (Acts 8:36)… babies cannot request baptism. Baptism is for those of us who have grown up, rebelled, sinned, and need our sins removed (Acts 22:16).