Ask Your Preacher
Three years after my wife and I got married, she had an affair and got pregnant. I stayed with her even though I had some struggles accepting the fact she cheated on me. I accepted the baby because I am unable to have children. It was our only child. Our son recently was killed on a motorcycle through no fault of his own. He was thirty-five years old. My wife and I divorced twenty-two years ago, but we are still friends. My question is: even though he was a great son and a church-going person with his wife who is sixteen weeks pregnant, is my son considered to be an illegitimate child to where he can't enter into the Lord’s congregation? I accepted him as my son, but I can't get this off my mind. Could you give me an answer, so I can clear my mind? I love my son more than I can explain, but I am so confused from what I read. Like I said, he was a church-going person and never gave anyone any problems.
Dear Mourning Father,
We are so sorry for your loss. What a devastating time for your family. Let us give you one comfort – your son is not responsible for the choices that others made that led to his conception. God very specifically says that each person is responsible for their own sins. The entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 deals with this issue. God’s conclusion is that a son can choose his own path regardless of what his parents chose (Ezek 18:20). Each of us works out our own salvation before God (Php 2:12). Your son is not barred from heaven because of his mother’s past. His commitment to Christ will define him on that great Day of Judgment.
My daughter says that we have to be baptized to be saved… that a confession is not what saves us. Where does it specifically say in Scripture that it's baptism that saves?
Dear Perplexed Parent,
The most well-documented and clearest doctrine in the New Testament is baptism… yet, it is also the most commonly ignored topic in the religious world. Peter said it best when he said, “Baptism saves you” (1 Pet 3:21). Every person that became a Christian in the New Testament was baptized – immediately. You won’t find a single person in the book of Acts that wasn’t baptized. When the first sermon was preached after Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles told the people that they needed to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul tells us that baptism is a burial with Christ, and only after that burial do we receive a new life (Rom 6:3-4). Baptism was so important to Paul that he was baptized even before eating or drinking (Acts 9:18-19), which shows how important it is because Paul hadn’t had food or water in three days (Acts 9:9)! Belief is not enough; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). It is only when our belief is combined with obedience that we have living faith (Jas 2:17-18), and the very first command to obey that God gives us is to be baptized in the name of His Son (Matt 28:19, Mk 16:16). We die to sin when we are baptized.
If Jesus paid for our sins, why do we have to pay for them again? And where can I find it at in the Bible?
Dear Second Chances,
Sin has both spiritual and physical consequences. The spiritual consequence of sin is eternal death unless we are forgiven in Christ (Rom 6:23). The physical consequences of sin still remain after forgiveness. God says that we reap what we sow (Gal 6:7). When we behave immorally toward a woman, lose our temper, mistreat others, are bad examples for our children, etc. – there are consequences to those choices. God does offer forgiveness if we place our faith in Him (read “What Must I Do To Be Saved” for more details), but that forgiveness doesn’t remove the consequences of sin in this life. David sinned when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:2-4); God forgave David of the sin when David repented (2 Sam 12:13), but David’s child still died as a consequence of that sin (2 Sam 12:14).
In Christ, we don’t have to pay for the eternal consequences of our sins, but we do still have to pay for the physical ones.
Why do some churches baptize in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost when everyone in the Bible was baptized in Jesus’ name?
Get It Right
Dear Get It Right,
There is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both phrases are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19).
If baptism is essential for salvation, what about the thief on the cross ?
Dear Confession Only,
There are four explanations for Christ’s pardon of the crucified thief in Lk 23:39-43. All of them fit in perfect harmony with the necessity of baptism and the New Testament teachings that salvation begins at baptism (1 Pet 3:21, Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3-4).
- This thief may very well have been baptized by John the Baptist (Mk 1:4) or one of Jesus’ disciples (Jhn 4:1-2). We simply don’t know enough about this thief to say whether he was or wasn’t baptized. It is always faulty to build a doctrine off an assumption. To say that we don’t need to be baptized because that thief wasn’t baptized is an assumption.
- The thief was physically unable to be baptized. 2 Cor 8:12 tells us that God only holds us accountable for what we are physically able to do. That thief didn’t have the capability to get off that cross and be baptized. The argument could be made that he was excused from the law of baptism the same way that a mute man would be excused from the command to “confess Christ with your tongue” (Rom 14:11). This isn’t the best argument of the four, but it is a valid point worth considering.
- While Jesus was here on earth, He had the authority to forgive sins as He saw fit (Matt 9:6). This thief was no different than any of the other people whose sins were verbally forgiven by Christ as He walked this earth (Lk 7:48-49, Lk 5:20). Since Jesus is no longer on this earth… baptism is the only other way to have your sins removed.
- The command to be baptized for salvation is a New Testament command. Those who are baptized become a part of the church (Acts 2:41). If we are being technical (and there is a time for technicalities), the church and the New Testament law didn’t come into effect until after Jesus died and rose from the grave. Until Jesus’ death and resurrection, the laws of the Old Testament would have still been in effect. That thief wasn’t bound to the law of baptism (a New Testament law) because Jesus hadn’t yet died.
No matter which argument seems the sturdiest to you (they all have merit), the thief on the cross example doesn’t negate the necessity of baptism today.