Ask Your Preacher
We all know even Christians are not perfect and have struggles. We also know that sanctification should be occurring, and a Christian has conduct requirements. My question is: when does sin become a serious problem in a Christian’s life? When does a Christian become a lukewarm Christian? And after receiving Christ in their lives, can Christians backslide or sin enough to lose their salvation? I know I hate sin and strive my hardest to do the will of God, but there are times I just have a thorn in my flesh or do what I don't want to do.
We are warned to not “drift” away from the Lord (Heb 2:1) or “backslide” (Pr 1:32) into old sinful ways. Once we are baptized, we are told to grow in the Lord and mature in our faith (1 Pet 2:2). Baptism is the beginning of a new life, but God calls us to be faithful until death (Rev 2:10). A Christian can know that they are not lukewarm by properly examining their motives and lifestyle (1 Cor 11:28-30). God constantly forgives faithful and honest people for their sins (1 Jn 1:9), but if we neglect our salvation (Heb 2:3) or stop growing, we have no hope left (Heb 10:26-27). The struggles you face are completely common… the important thing is to continue to struggle and fight for the faith.
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).
If a person was open to the idea of Jesus Christ... but didn't truly believe, and she was the most kindest person you have ever met, would she automatically go to hell even if she was a very kind and respectful person?
Fond Of My Friend
Dear Fond Of My Friend,
Nobody gets to heaven because they are such a good person (Rom 3:27-28). Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the perfection that gives you a right to enter heaven’s gates (Rom 3:23). No amount of good deeds cancel out your bad deeds. If I save a million lives, but murder one – I am still a murderer. Sin requires forgiveness, and forgiveness is a gift (Rom 6:23). We receive that gift through Jesus’ sacrifice (Jhn 3:16), and we can only be redeemed by Jesus’ blood when we place our faith in Him (Rom 3:24-25). We place our faith in Christ when we hear His Word (Rom 10:17) and obey it. There is no way to God except through Christ (Jhn 14:6). It is good if someone is kind, but kindness isn’t what saves you – Jesus is (Jhn 10:7-11).
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.
What is truth? Please explain John 8:31-33.
Dear Define It,
Jesus says that if we live our lives in the truth, we will be free. In Jhn 17:17, Jesus says that God’s Word, the Bible, is truth. The truth that will set us free is the truth that can only be found in the Bible. Rom 1:16 says that the Bible is God’s power to save mankind. When we use the Bible as our instruction manual for life, we will be saved. If you would like to know what the Bible says you must do to be saved, please read our post, “Five Steps To Salvation”. The Bible is God’s roadmap for our lives.