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SALVATION

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Baptism For The Dead

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
I was studying the Bible with my friend (she is a Mormon), and she showed me a verse that talks about baptizing dead people (1 Cor 15:29).  What is that all about?

 

Sincerely,
Coffin Dunker

Dear Coffin Dunker,

God does command baptism for the dead… but not how the Mormons teach it.  Baptism for the dead is a Mormon practice where they baptize a living family member on behalf of a dead relative.  The Mormons then profess that “proxy-baptism” saves the soul of the dead relative, turning them into a Mormon.  There is nothing in the Bible that teaches this doctrine, and they misuse 1 Cor 15:29 when they refer to it.

1 Cor 15:29 is in the middle of a discussion Paul is having with the Corinthian church about life after death.  Paul just got done explaining that Jesus died and lived again (1 Cor 15:15-18).  Paul will then later explain that he is willing to be persecuted even to death in order to preach the gospel (1 Cor 15:30-32).  The statement about baptism for the dead is smack-dab right in the middle of that context.  Therefore, whatever “baptism for the dead” is referring to must have something to do with life after death and the willingness to die for the gospel because you have such a hope.

Baptism removes our sin (Acts 2:38).  Baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:21, Mk 16:16).  When we are baptized, we move from a state of spiritual death to spiritual life (Eph 2:1-5).  That spiritual death (i.e. eternity in hell) is what Paul is referring to in 1 Cor 15:29.  People are baptized for death, to remove spiritual death, and live in the hope of eternal life (Tit 3:7).  Jesus came and preached to those living in the “shadow of death” (Lk 1:79).  When we obey the gospel, we have passed out of death and into life (Jhn 5:24).  Jesus even went so far as to say that we will never see death if we keep His word (Jhn 8:51).  In the context of first Corinthians chapter 15, Paul is talking about this eternal death.  When people are baptized, they are baptized to avoid the eternal death that awaits all who are outside of Christ.

I'm Not The Same Person!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
I've had trouble in my past with the law.  I'm sorry for what I did and have changed.  Why do I still have to deal with all this?  Is there something obvious I can do or something to show people that I'm not the same?  I've tried wearing long sleeves to cover up my tattoos and wearing a cross, and all that didn't work.  Is there, like, a saying or something that I can say?  Or something else I can wear?

 

Sincerely,
Reformed Citizen

Dear Reformed Citizen,

There are two areas of our life that our sins effect – the spiritual part of our life and the physical part of our life.  When you are baptized, the spiritual consequences for your sins are removed.  Our sins bring spiritual death (Rom 6:23), and baptism brings a new life in Christ (Rom 6:3-4).  The spiritual consequences for our sins are the most important because they are eternal consequences.  Even if all of mankind hates us, if God loves us, we are safe (Matt 10:28).  Forgiveness of your sins does not remove the physical consequences though – just the spiritual ones.

God tells us that we “reap what we sow” (Gal 6:7).  The physical consequences of our sins will be with us our entire life.  If we lose our temper and strike someone, then we must deal with the effects of that choice… even if God forgives us.  If I am an unfaithful steward and spend all the money God gives me on worthless things, God’s forgiveness will not miraculously remove my poverty.  God wants us to learn the lessons from our sins, and He disciplines us when we are disobedient (Heb 12:9-10).  There is no magic pill, incantation, or jewelry that will remove the consequences of your choices in this life.  All you can do is begin to humbly serve God (Mic 6:8).  As you make better choices – over time – you will find that people begin to treat you differently.  Let your humble, repentant, and gentle spirit shine through.  You know that you are a different person; in time everyone else will, too.

Order Of Operations

Tuesday, January 05, 2016
I am in a debate with my girlfriend about whether or not it is okay if we live together before we are married.  From a biblical standpoint, what is your take on that situation?  Am I in the wrong for wanting to before we are married?  I am curious for your interpretation and advice on it from a biblical standpoint.

 

Thanks.

Sincerely,
First Or Last Month’s Rent

First Or Last Month’s Rent,

We receive this question almost every day, and it would be very easy for us to refer you to previous posts like "Living Together" and call it good, but we here at AYP believe that this question is posed so often because of a deeper problem than people just not knowing what to do about sex, marriage, and living arrangements.

The reason people don’t get married – but instead (outside of marriage) have sex, live together, have children together, and eventually destroy their lives – is because we spend our lives making up the rules as we go.  We live our lives by the “what-makes-me-feel-good-right-now” philosophy.  We have no real standard to live by other than what we feel at the moment.  Like Pilate, we ask, “What is truth?” (Jhn 18:38) because we don’t know where to find the right answers to life.  How can we know what is the right thing to do?  Only the Creator can give us a rulebook for life that allows us to comfortably say, “I’m making the right choice.”  Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life (Jhn 14:6).  All the answers to life are found in His Scriptures (2 Pet 1:3).  If we want our relationships, our families, our careers, and our lives to work, we have to use the manual.  Ask for the Bible and nothing else.  We here at AYP would be happy to help you begin that journey by showing you what God has to say about getting your life right with Him.  E-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org.  And if you didn’t see it coming, getting your life right with Christ will involve not living together before you are married.

Salvation - The Only Gift That Matters

Monday, January 04, 2016
I am so confused; I heard you have to speak in tongues to be saved.  I have not spoken in tongues that I know of, and I know I have the Holy Spirit in me because I feel Him in my heart.  Why is it that some preachers say you must speak in tongues and some say you don't?  Here is a scripture I am confused about also – Mark16:17: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.”  Is this telling me I am not saved since I have not spoken in tongues?

 

Sincerely,
Speechless

Dear Speechless,

You do not have to speak in tongues to be saved.  The Ethiopian eunuch didn’t speak in tongues, and he was saved (Acts 8:36-39).  The Philippian jailer didn’t speak in tongues, and he was saved (Acts 16:31-34).  Paul taught that only some had the gift of tongues (1 Cor 12:28-31).  Any preacher that teaches that you have to speak in tongues to be saved has missed some very basic Bible verses.  They have an agenda and are deserving of condemnation as false teachers who proclaim something other than the Gospel (Gal 1:8-9).

Furthermore, miraculous gifts are no longer present in the church.  They are no longer needed because we have the complete and perfect Word of God (1 Cor 13:8-10).  For further details on this, read “Speaking in Tongues”, “The Lost Art of Prophecy”, and “Spoken Like A True Friend”.

Mark 16:17 is not referring to all christians, but instead it is referring to the “signs that would accompany” Christianity.  As the gospel first spread, God used miracles to attest to the authenticity of the apostles’ claims that Jesus was the Son of God (Mk 16:20).  These signs and wonders were God’s way of supernaturally bearing witness to the preaching (Heb 2:2-4).  Miracles do not make you a christian; obedience to the will of God does (Rom 12:2).  Read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” to understand, verse-by-verse, what it takes to become a christian.  Do not accept anything but the Scriptures.  Only God’s Word holds the answers to our salvation (Rom 1:16).

Astonishing Grace

Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Sometimes I feel like asking for forgiveness is too easy.  When I think about all the sins I commit in a week, I feel awful and can't comprehend that if I just ask for them to be forgiven, they will be, and then I'm stuck with this feeling that I'm not really forgiven.  I do truly feel sorry for what I've done, but is it supposed to be this easy?

 

Sincerely,
Apology Accepted?

Dear Apology Accepted?,

Trusting in the Lord is hardest when He offers something more spectacular than we deserve.  Heaven is hard to visualize because it is so wonderful, and forgiveness is hard to appreciate because it is so gracious.  You must remember that God provides forgiveness as a gift (Rom 6:23); it has nothing to do with whether you deserve it.  God tells us that He is eager to forgive us (Ps 86:5).  Forgiveness is His gift to give, and He may give it as freely as He wishes.

God’s forgiveness can be compared to the forgiveness a parent offers their children (after all He is called our Father for a reason – Matt 5:45).  How often do young children make mistakes as they learn and grow?  No matter how often a child fails, parents are quick to forgive them as soon as they show sorrow.  God is no different (1 Jn 1:9).  Your Father loves you so much that He gave His very own Son (Jhn 3:16).  Sometimes God’s forgiveness seems too easy because God loves us with such ease.

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