Ask Your Preacher
I'm a christian who hasn't smoked or drank alcohol in ten years and started back up about five months ago. I've prayed and prayed. I feel very condemned... what can I do?
Off The Wagon
Dear Off The Wagon,
The only thing to do is to repent and get back to the same habits that kept you clean for ten years. God tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 Jn 1:9). Assuming that you have properly taken the steps to become a christian (read "Five Steps To Salvation" for details on what it takes to be saved), confession and repentance are all that is needed. Pr 24:16 says that a righteous man may fall seven times, but he rises again. Just get back up and keep trying. Ten years is a wonderful success story. You did it once; you can do it again.
Hello, I think this is my fifth question to you guys. I am a bit new to Christianity. I feel really out of place in church and appreciate all the answers so far. I have read the Bible but don't fully understand it; I'm workin’ on it. I had an experience with God where He showed me that He was real, and I started reading directly after that. This question revolves around will. After my first experiences with God, I felt a dramatic change in my life. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to follow the rules to a tee. I wanted to do God's will and have His will done through me. I would've done just about anything, and I could strongly sense God controlling and leading my life. He was presenting opportunities and challenges and speaking to me on a very normal basis. This feeling slowly dwindled, and I don't know how to get it back. Furthermore, to be quite honest, I don't really WANT to get it back. At the present, I don't want to get close to God by doing His will, studying, or even praying sometimes. I would rather do my own will. I know it's wrong. I know our relationship with God is the only thing on this world that really matters, but for some reason, I just don't really feel like doing it.
But I would like to feel like doing it because I know I should. That was the single greatest feeling I've ever experienced, but for some reason (I don't really know why), I just don't seem to want it anymore.
Not In The Mood
Dear Not In The Mood,
Our closeness to God isn’t defined by how close we feel to Him or by any personal revelation we think we receive… the Scriptures are our compass, not our emotions. When the Bible was perfectly completed, all prophecy and individual revelations were done away with (1 Cor 13:9-10). Paul told Timothy that he was approved by God when he rightly handled the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Col 1:5 says that we have hope through the Word of God, and Eph 1:13 says we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of salvation.
Many people wholeheartedly believe that they are pleasing to God but will be condemned on the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:22-23). Feelings can be deceptive, but God’s Word is unchanging, unbiased, and able to rightly divide our lives and character (Heb 4:12). If you want to know whether or not you are pleasing God, compare your life to the Scriptures. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).”
It is very common for people to have an initial burst of enthusiasm when they first learn about Christ. Matt 13:20-21 tells about the person that has an unrooted love of God – that is true for lots of folks. The key for you is that you need to be different. You need to put out the effort even when you don’t feel like it. We are defined by what we do when it is hard, not when it is easy.
Part of your problem may be that you aren’t amongst a group of people that are feeding you the Word of God. Many churches teach emotionalism but not Scripture, and that leaves you feeling defeated the first time things get difficult. If you would like help finding a congregation near you that faithfully stands by God’s Word, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will help you locate one.
Many passages like Romans 10:13 say that whoever accepts Jesus as Savior will automatically be saved. But what about passages that say that not all christians will enter God’s kingdom? Matthew 7:21-23 states that Jesus said that not everyone who calls His name will enter God’s kingdom. Luke 13:23-27 states that people will do anything just to get qualified to enter God’s kingdom, but not all will succeed. Most interesting of all is Matthew 25:32-46 where some of those who thought they were sheep were actually goats. So what guarantee is there that we will be saved and be in the presence of God?
Needing A Guarantee
Dear Needing A Guarantee,
The guarantee is when we continually live faithful lives to God until the day we die. Accepting Jesus as our Savior is more than just a singular act; it is a lifestyle. The apostle Paul said it clearest when he wrote, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:12-14).
Notice the language he uses. Paul says that he hasn't already obtained and that he must "press on" to the goal. Faith is a lifestyle of hearing God's Word and living by it (Rom 10:17). Rom 10:13 is often taken out of context and used to say that all we must do to be saved is call upon the Lord's name, but we must remember that it is the sum of God's Word that gives us the truth (Ps 119:160). There are many verses (like those you mentioned) which state that calling on the Lord's name is only part of what it takes to get to heaven.
Are we predestinated to be saved according to Acts 13:48 and Ephesians 1:4-5 amongst others? Is Calvinism true about predestination?
Chosen By God
Dear Chosen By God,
We here at AYP firmly believe in election, grace, and predestination because they are all terms clearly mentioned in the Bible. The important questions to ask are:
- How are we elected?
- Who receives grace?
- What is predestined?
Many false doctrines have been created because people failed to ask these questions. Calvinism (a very popular false doctrine that has infected many churches) teaches that people are elected by God without any conditions and that it is impossible to choose to serve God; it is all up to God. It also teaches that grace can never be lost and that it is impossible to fall away even if you become an axe-murderer or live a homosexual lifestyle. Calvinism also teaches that God predestined specific people throughout history to be saved and that only those specific individuals will go to heaven – everyone else is lost by default. (For further information on Calvinism, please read “Calvin And Sobs”.) This is an example of how the words ‘election’, ‘grace’, and ‘predestination’ have been abused when we didn’t clarify their biblical meanings.
God teaches that He has elected certain people to be saved. John 6:44-45 says that God draws people to Him through the Bible. When we listen to what the Bible says, we are called by God. 2 Thess 2:14 makes it even clearer when it says that we are called through the Gospel. ‘Called’ is another word for ‘elected’.
Those who turn to Christ will receive grace. ‘Grace’ means ‘unmerited or undeserved favor’; grace is a gift you haven’t earned… in this case, it is the gift of salvation. We receive grace when we live by faith (Eph 2:8). Jesus died and paid a price none of us could ever pay – the price of our sins. When we walk according to His teachings, His blood cleanses us from sin (1 Jn 1:7). A faithful life isn’t a perfect life, but it is a life that is guided by God’s Word (Rom 10:17).
The Bible also teaches that God predestined something to be saved. ‘Predestined’ means ‘to set the limits’. Before God made anything, He set the limits of who would be saved and who wouldn’t (Eph 1:5). God said that those in Christ will be saved (2 Tim 1:9). Everyone who is washed in the blood of Jesus will be saved – He is the only way to God (Jhn 14:6). God predestined only a certain group of people to be saved – the church (Acts 20:28). The question we must all ask ourselves is: am I a part of God’s church?
Can you explain what repent means?
‘Repent’ means to ‘change your mind’. A 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 one of the necessary steps to be saved (Mk 6:12, Lk 13:5, Lk 15:7). Read "Five Steps To Salvation" for all the steps involved in becoming a christian.