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 have done something in my past that I truly regret… something I can’t seem to get off my mind. I pray every day to be forgiven of my sin; it’s torn me continuously apart. I know it was wrong, and it hasn't happened again. And it won’t ever happen again. Even though God has forgiven me of my sin and I know it was wrong, how can I forgive myself?
The problem isn’t with whether or not you can be forgiven – the problem is that you don’t feel forgiven. The two issues are very different. There are times when our head and our heart aren’t on the same page. Guilt can drive someone crazy if they don’t learn to keep things in proper perspective. God says that your heart can be wrong. You feel that you can’t be forgiven, but the Bible says you can. It is very similar to the problem that the apostle Paul faced. Paul had murdered christians and felt that he was the worst of the worst, but he learned that Jesus would forgive him (1 Tim 1:15-16).
The apostle John said it best, “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” (1 Jhn 3:19-20). Your act of faith is going to be letting go of your fears and trusting that living by God’s Word is what matters (Rom 10:17). Sometimes, our feelings can be fickle and wrong, and we’ve got to ignore them until time and life change them.
Could you elaborate on 1 Timothy 2:8. What is meant by holy hands?
Hand-ling The Verse
Dear Hand-ling The Verse,
It was not uncommon for those praying to raise their hands toward heaven as they prayed. In 1 Tim 2:8, Paul is exhorting that we should have clean hands when we pray to God. Our hands represent our lives and our actions. If our lives are full of wrathful and doubting behavior, our prayers will be hindered. The greatest example of this is in 1 Pet 3:7 where God warns husbands that their prayers will be hindered if they mistreat their wives. Our hands need to be holy when we approach God; our lives need to be holy if we approach the Lord in prayer.
What are feelings, where do they come from, and what is their purpose?
Full Of Emotion
Dear Full Of Emotion,
Feelings are a gift from God, and they are part of what makes us made in His image (Gen 1:27). God has emotions, just like humans do… or rather, humans have emotions, just like God does. God gets angry (2 Sam 6:7). God can be jealous (Ex 34:14). God has times of sadness and grief (Gen 6:6). God can also have great joy (Lk 15:10). Our emotions are just like God’s – except we have sin in our lives and immaturity in our hearts. When God angers, He never acts inappropriately… but we do. Humans don’t always show proper control of our feelings, and instead, we let them control us. Feelings can be a wonderful blessing (life would be bland without them), but they are only a blessing if we guard our hearts with the truth (Pr 4:23).
Is it normal for a christian to sometimes have doubts about his faith? Like, maybe whether Christ is really the Messiah or not or all the things in the Bible are true or not?
Dear Doubting Myself,
Everyone faces times of doubt in their life; the key is to strengthen the weaknesses in our resolve. Like the man who cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24), all christians must recognize that faith must grow and increase over time.
Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). We can’t see God, but there is plenty of evidence that He exists. The whole creation cries out as evidence of God’s existence (Rom 1:20). As science and our knowledge of the natural world have increased, the proof of God’s existence has increased as well. Books like Has God Spoken? by A.O. Schnabel, Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, and Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell are excellent resources that make clear the existence of the God of the Bible. Take the time to fill your mind with information from sources like those mentioned above, and you will find yourself more confident in no time (Php 4:8).