Ask Your Preacher
I was baptized when I was eighteen, and I remember why I was doing it, but it was also out of fear that if I died without being baptized that I would die and go to hell. However, when I answered ‘yes’ to "Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and came down and died for the remission of your sins?", I remember being hesitant. I'm twenty-two now, and looking back, I can't remember if I truly believed that, and I'm worried that I won't go to heaven if I died. I believe it firmly now, but do you think I should be re-baptized just to make sure?
Dear Double Take,
The word ‘baptism’ simply means ‘immersion’ – it is the reason for your immersion that makes baptism a soul-saving act. When we understand that baptism saves us from our sins (1 Pet. 3:21) and are baptized by the authority of Christ (Acts 2:38) and believe in His Name (Mk. 16:16), then that baptism saves us. Many people are baptized without understanding these things… in which case, they just get wet. You will have to evaluate for yourself whether or not you understood what you were doing when you were baptized (Php 2:12). If you did, there is no need for re-baptism. If not or if you aren’t sure, re-baptism is a logical and conscientious decision.
If the only reason you are seeking to be re-baptized is that you think you did it out of fear the first time – there is nothing wrong with fear motivating our initial obedience to God. Almost all people start that way, and God says it is appropriate (Pr 1:7). However, if you still feel that nagging doubt, you wouldn’t be the first person to decide that the faithful thing to do is to remove all questions and go back to the water.
I am currently a Deist, not tying myself to any one religion or belief; however, I do believe that there is a Supreme Being, One who orchestrated the birth of the universe. However, I also believe in the findings of our scientists, such as the Big Bang theory and the scientific theory of evolution. Because I believe in a god, but not a Christian god, where does that leave me on that Great Day (according to Christianity)? I just figure that if Christianity WAS the correct path after all, would that "kind and just" God send me to an eternity of damnation, or would He understand my doubts because He created me in His own image?
It is understandable with all of the opinions that are thrown around as science for you to feel torn between belief in God and the belief in evolution, but it isn’t enough to believe in a generic god – we must place our faith in the God. After all, even the demons admit belief in deity… but that won’t save them on the Day of Judgment (Jas 2:19). 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. 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.
Don’t be dissuaded by the scientists that say we evolved from goo. First of all, not all scientists are evolutionists – no matter what the media tells you. Thousands of biologists, geologists, doctors, paleontologists, etc. believe in the Creator of the Bible, and they are intellectually honest in doing so. The scientific evidence has led them to the Bible, not away from it. Second of all, things like evolution and the Big Bang are a way of interpreting the scientific data, not a concrete finding from the data. One scientist sees a bed of fossils, and because he doesn’t believe in God, he interprets that the fossils were created over millions of years. Another scientist sees the same fossil bed, and because he does believe in God, he interprets that a catastrophic event (like Noah’s Flood) is what caused such a sudden build up of fossils and silt. They see same evidence, but come to vastly different conclusions. Read “Atheism-Colored Glasses” for further details on the subject of scientific bias.
Next, 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 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.
My husband was baptized at the age of sixteen by full immersion; however, it was done by the Mormon church where he had made several friends and had begun attending church with them as a youth. My question is: does he need to be re-baptized? Thank you!
Dear Do Over?,
Yes, he does need to be re-baptized because he was baptized for the wrong reasons and by the wrong authority. People are baptized all the time without being saved. The word ‘baptism’ comes from the Greek word ‘baptizo’ which means ‘immersion’. The word ‘baptism’ is the same word that Greeks used when a ship sank to the bottom of the ocean or when someone dove to the bottom of a swimming pool. In the most technical sense, people are baptized when they take baths, go swimming, etc. Taking a bath will baptize you, but it definitely won’t save you.
Baptism is only effective when it is done by faith (Col 2:12) and by the authority of Christ (Acts 2:38). The Mormon church baptizes people based upon the teachings of the Book of Mormon and their prophet, Joseph Smith… not the Bible. Now, any of our Mormon readers will immediately begin to yell and wail at that last sentence and tell you that it isn’t true. They will tell you that they baptize people because the Bible says so, but we can guarantee you that if the Book of Mormon said “don’t be baptized” and the Bible said “do be baptized”… they would go with the Book of Mormon’s doctrine. It is merely convenient for their argument that the Book of Mormon and the New Testament both teach baptism. Mormons baptize people to put them in the Mormon church, and they do it because Joseph Smith said so. The Bible teaches that we should be baptized to wash away our sins (Acts 22:16), to put us into the Lord’s church (Acts 2:41), and by Jesus’ authority (Matt 28:18-20). Your husband definitely needs to be baptized for the right reasons.
If we are saved by grace through Christ alone, and not by works, why does the Word say that at the Judgment, Christ might say to some, "Depart from me; I never knew you" (Matt 7:23)? It seems to suggest that after being born again, we then must do something to stay saved. Some of them were obviously doing wonderful works in His name (Matt 7:22). Can you help me understand?
Working On An Answer
Dear Working On An Answer,
When Paul says that we are not saved by works, he is talking about perfect works (Rom 3:27). Paul was dealing with the argument that a man could be saved by living by the law and that he didn’t need God’s grace (Rom 3:28). We are saved by faith in God, not perfect works. However, that doesn’t mean that what we do doesn’t matter. James says that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:20). The choices we make in life show who we have faith in. We know we have faith in God when we listen to His Word (Rom 10:17) and then do our best to live by what it says (Jas 1:22). Abraham is a perfect example of this. Abraham was saved by faith (Rom 4:9), but we are also told that Abraham was saved by works when he offered Isaac (Jas 2:21). God knew Abraham’s faith when Abraham lived by that faith (Gen 22:12). Our actions do define us. We have all sinned (Rom 3:23), and God in His grace, sent His Son to pay the price for our sins, but that doesn’t mean that how you live doesn’t matter. Matt 7:23 is referring to those people who say that they trust the Lord but aren’t living by His Word. Those people won’t be saved.
Is it true that no matter what we do, as long as we have said the Sinner’s Prayer, we will go to heaven because of what Jesus did for us?
Praying It’s True
Dear Praying It’s True,
The sinner’s prayer is not how people become saved. If we want to know what it takes to be saved, we should see what people in the Bible did to become saved. 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.
If we want to have total confidence that we are saved, we must do everything the Bible says to receive salvation (Ps 119:160). Prayer is a wonderful thing to do, but it isn’t a part of the conversion process.