First, I don't think being baptized again is the answer. Assuming you followed Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:37-38, and similar passages, by believing, repenting, and being baptized "for the remission of sins", then I see no reason for you to be re-baptized. If the baptism had been performed incorrectly, then you would need to be re-baptized, like the ancient Ephesians (Acts 19:1-5). Most likely, this verse does not apply to you, since your motivation is not an issue.
Second, please don't give up! I think I know the verses you referenced, but to make sure we are on the same page, will you send me the reference for the verses you quoted?
Lastly, do you believe these verses?
I look forward to hearing from you, so we can arrive at a better understanding of the verses you mentioned.No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (I Thessalonians 5:23-24)
There is a way out of your pit! God did not intend for us to live in such doubt or despair. Hang in there! :)
May God help us to have a sincere love of truth,
First, about the baptism, I go back and forth on the step of repentance, and started a lot of my struggles with that issue. It seems ridiculous after this many years to finally admit this, but I realized I had no idea what exactly repent means. I realized this while listening to a church of Christ preacher online who said, during his invitation, “You need to repent, get rid of all your sin in your life, and then be baptized.” I stopped and thought, that cannot be right, surely. I always viewed salvation repentance more as a change of view point, or perspective on my daily walk, which led me to follow Christ and want to stop sinning because I saw it for what it was now. When I repented, I realized my sin had separated me from God, I hated it, and wanted to stop seeking my life goals, pleasures, and focus from the world, and to seek God’s will each day. I thought that is what Peter was telling the Jews in Acts when he told them to repent, and be baptized. He had just told them about how the crucified Christ, and they believed, because they were pricked in their hearts, then asked, What must we do to be saved? When he answered “Repent, and be baptized...” I assumed that the repent, because he had just told them about rejecting Jesus, meant to turn to Christ, and acknowledge him as the son of God, to walk in the light. If it does, in fact, mean I had to figure out every single sin in my life and stop it on my own before I could be baptized, that doesn’t seem possible, and it is not what I did. Also, even a few of the sins I knew about, I wanted to stop, but felt I was not strong enough. This almost stopped me from being baptized, but the man studying with me said I needed to look forward and be baptized and that the holy spirit would help me after I was saved. My legalistic mind would think of the worst possible scenario, and ask myself, could you resist sin in this situation, and of course my mind could always think of a situation where I had to admit I would not be able to resist, so I worried I was not repenting. Then I decided I had not really repented unless I went back and fixed all the sins I had done, found everyone I had lied to, which is EVERYONE because dishonesty is one of my most difficult sins. Of course I realized really fast that this was impossible, and there were so many complex situations, I didn’t know how to make them right, and what was required, if people never knew I lied, did I need to tell them? If I couldn’t remember if I lied over the last 15 years or what I had lied about. I even remember deleting movies I had downloaded illegally because it was dishonest, but then thinking, maybe I need to turn myself in and go to jail to really repent? It went on and on and on and I realized I would never ever feel like I really repented of each and every sin, so I went with the other interpretation, of repenting by changing the focus and direction of my life. Maybe I was wrong, because I did, in fact, go right back to those sins, and continued in them after I was baptized. I was never happy about them, and have fought them every since, but I did not stop committing them. I asked a minister about it at our church a few months after, and he said “Well, if you are sinning less than you were, that is a good indication that you repented.” This actually made me a little upset because I could not find this anywhere in scripture, and doubt that God plays a game of numbers. So in conclusion, I am wondering what repentance really is, and was mine biblical, if I am still working on the same sins after baptism, did I truly repent of them? If I did, why do I not pass the 1st John test on your web site of being in the faith and having the holy spirit? I have noticed my wife, who was baptized around the same time as me, produce more and more fruit. Her life changed dramatically, she is always so joyful, she teaches ladies bible class, people stop me at church all the time and tell me what a blessing she is, she visits sick and widowed, and is so happy all the time in her salvation. Why did I not get any of that?
Second, the verses I am having trouble with.
When I cam across verses like these four while reading through my bible, for some reason, even though I had heard them before, I could not get over the fact that they make it sound like nobody can get to heaven unless they live a perfect life after baptism. Jesus didn’t say, “try to keep my commandments” or in Mat 7:21 he didn’t say “He that doeth his best to do the will of my Father.” And if I truly forsaketh everything I have, I would give up all my sin as well, not most of it and still slip Occasionally. If a Christian can only be saved by living a perfect life, how is that by faith, not works? Also, how does this not contradict the teaching in 1st John about Christians sinning:Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Luk 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
(Again, does this mean if any man sin BEFORE baptism only?)1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (Is this talking about before baptism only?)
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (Is this talking about before baptism only, the one time?)
1Jn 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Because if they mean after baptism, that a Christian is capable of sin, they contradict the first set of verses saying that to be a Christian, you have to obey all command perfectly, which means no sin. Also, if this is talking to Christians in 1Jn, I am even more confused by the entire book of 1st John. He makes statements that there is no darkness at all in him, and if we say we have fellowship with him but walk in darkness, we lie. So, we cannot sin, or we are not Christians, yet right after it says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves...” How can these fit together?
Last, about the verses you sent. To be honest I had always just read through those verses and always dismissed 1Cor 10:13 as, “That means I CAN overcome sin, but I will never be able to be perfect all the time. If I was not able to overcome sin, it would mean I had no choice, and it wouldn’t really be a free will thing anymore, so of course I can overcome it, the problem is I am weak and don’t do it always like I should, and then I am back to the problem of, I am not keeping his commandments, so I must not be in the faith, and start thinking I must have never been saved.
As for 1 Thess 5:23-24 I thought that when the bible said we were sanctified, that means we were made clean, by his blood, by being forgiven of our sins, thus not guilty and blameless, not because we lived a perfect life after baptism that we were blameless. I am guessing I am wrong?
And last, in 1st John if that is talking to believers, is he saying that every single time a Christian sins, he goes out of salvation until he confesses it? Because there is no darkness at all in him, and when we sin we have darkness, so if a Christian sins, he must be out of him, right?
Thank you again for your help. I am so sorry if I sound disrespectful of God’s word, I don’t mean to say it is contradicting, I just read a lot that I cannot put together in one message. It doesn’t help that I have a hint of denominational blood in me, because one of my grandfathers is a deacon in the church of Christ, and the other is a deacon in the Baptist Church. I was raised in the church of Christ, but you can’t help but have second thoughts when you see your grandfather live his whole life dedicated to God and all the fruit of his life, about if he might be right. But I have moved past that long ago and accepted the most biblical plan of salvation, and agree that the Baptist church now days is using a fairy tail version of salvation not found in the Scriptures, even though when my Grandfather was baptized it was not near what it is today, from what I gather from him, so maybe that is the difference. Anyway, I am very thankful to you, and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that you got back to me so quickly. Even though we could all die at anytime, or the Lord could return, the job I do, it is put in my face every day that I might not be here tomorrow, so you can imagine I would very much like to have some kind of assurance as quickly as possible, while I also want to grow long term. After this break down in my faith the last few days, for the first time in my life I am afraid to go do my job in the morning. I can’t live like this at all, so giving up is just not an option. I agree, God did not mean for me to live this way, and he would not send his son into the world to tell us we are all going to hell, but what exactly did he tell us? And, do you ever wonder why the bible is written so cryptic? Almost in riddles?
BTW, I believe the reason for the "riddles" is given here: Matthew 13:1-23; II Thessalonians 2:9-12; and Isaiah 66:4.
The bottom line is, after reading 1st John, I can NOT understand how this is not a black and white contradiction, especially 1Jon 3:6. If I still sin after I was baptized, I NEVER knew him? So I was never saved because I sinned. I have looked at ESV, KJV, NASB, even NIV which I don’t like, and no matter what, it says what it says. Every commentary and comment online trying to explain this away either tries to say “It doesn’t actually mean...” or “what it is really saying is...” but either we trust our bible or we don’t, we can’t decide to re-interpret what hundreds of scholars have accurately interpreted the same way in dozens of translations over hundreds of years, every time the Bible doesn’t match our lives. And other commentaries try to draw an invisible line between committing a sin, and practicing sin. If I could meet these commentators, I would ask them, what is the magic number or frequency when it becomes practice? Any sin, even one slip, is because I chose to sin willfully, and did not keep his commandments, and if I sin, I am of the devil. The statements in 1st John are not complicated, they are just impossible.
Christians will never sin = “In him is no darkness at all” “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie” “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar” “in him there is no sin” “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning” “No one borne of God makes a practices of sinning” If these are true, no “Christian” I have ever met is saved.
Christians will sin = “If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us” “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar.”
After reading these conflicts over and over and over I am always drawn back to passages telling me that, just in case I was saved, if I have willfully chosen to sin (is there any other kind of sin?) it is impossible for me to repent, and there is no sacrifice left for me. So, either I was never saved because I still sin, and nobody I have ever known was saved, or I was saved, and now I am damned.
I see no good answer either way. And why struggle for another decade with addictive sinful habits I have, when those very sins mean I have never known God. Even if I was able to overcome them, it would do me no good if I have never known God. It just causes constant guilt and depression which makes me a miserable person to be around for my family.
Thanks for the verses you sent, and sorry for unloading so much, I do not want to hurt anyone else’s faith with my doubts.
I go home very soon to my Wife and kids, and it has been heavy on my mind the last year or two, that as my kids grow it will be my responsibility to teach them to be Holy in this world we live in, and I view that as possibly the greatest responsibility I will ever have, so I need to start growing the way a Christian should, and I know now, that will never happen unless I first learn to live a holy life and repent of every single sin in my life, on a daily basis, and not allow it to continue. If I could ask one more favor, please pray for my growth so that God can take my life and use it as an example and teach my kids, and for my legalist mind that always tempts me to search for loopholes to my salvation and technicalities, trying to destroy my hope and joy on a daily basis. I wish I had someone spiritually mature like you living right next to me guiding me. I know the word of God and the Holy Spirit serves that role, but it is hard to do alone when you have a mind like mine, full of doubt and so wavering in faith. I know it labels me as a geek, but I can’t help but always think of my favorite films, Star Wars, how a new Jedi is always paired with a mentor while they grow. Sometimes I wonder if that wouldn’t be a good idea in the church for people like me, to make sure we grow straight, not misunderstanding scriptures. Thank you for being that for me when I needed it.
There are a few other questions I had, but with the scriptures and information you gave me, it changes my view of these verses and questions, and I think I can understand them now from a view of hopefulness. Once you recover from your tornado damage, if you ever have free time I would love to pick your brain about them, also, but I also realize you probably have a congregation or church to take care of where you are, and once I get home I will be around my Christian Family again, so only if you ever have free time and wish to discuss them. I don’t want to burden you because I could probably ask questions about the Bible from now until Jesus returns to answer them all and never run out. Thank you again.
About Hebrews 12:4-11 and "God's chastening", I think that is a reference to all forms of God disciplining us. Obviously, Scripture itself provides one clear way. I don't know about you, but many times I have read some verse that made me feel sick as the ramifications settled on me. (For example, compare Ezekiel's charter, which was at first sweet then bitter, Ezekiel 2:1-3:15, with John's, Revelation 10:7-11.) But, yet it was something I needed to do. That is one form of discipline to which we voluntarily submit ourselves. In other words, the more we study the Bible and compare what we read to our own lives, the more we are disciplined and transformed by it (II Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). The "Lord's chastening" might also be a reference to "providential chastening". These would be life's difficulties that come in our lives that can prompt us to pause, consider, and return to God's Word and Him (Psalm 119:59-60, 67, 71; Romans 8:20; Genesis 3:16-19, 22-24; Acts 17:26-27; Ecclesiastes 3:14). However, just because difficulties come to us, we should not necessarily interpret that as a sign of God's condemnation. Sometimes good things happen to the wicked, sometimes bad things happen to the righteous. We cannot discern God's love (approval) or hatred (disapproval) by the events that befall us (Ecclesiastes 8:16-9:1). Regardless, the wise will always use such occasions to pause, consider, and self-examine (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14), and if they do so, it can help them to correct something they have been ignoring, forgetting, or otherwise missing (Psalm 119:67, 71). Now God does not tempt us (James 1:12-15), but temptations do reveal our character and our weaknesses, so we and our brethren can use the results of those temptations to illuminate "focus points" that need greater attention (Acts 8:18-24). Like our Father and with His help, this is one way we can bring good out of evil. ... If there are other forms of the "Lord's chastening", they are eluding me at present.
Brother, if you are risking your safety and sacrificing time with your family to procure our country's safety, then you have already "repaid" me many times over. Any spiritual support I can provide is a duty, honor, and fulfilling joy for me (Luke 17:10).
I think of you and your family regularly in my prayers. I hope and pray that you can rejoin your family soon and be all the spiritual leader and support that you want to be and more (Ephesians 3:14-21). About the "mentor" idea, I think God has a similar idea in mind. He provided elders, teachers, and older men (or women) to provide this very form of encouragement you described (Ephesians 4:11-16; Titus 2:1-2). The mentoring form is not specified, which leaves it up to the older men to work out what is best for their time, generation, culture, and place, but the effect should be the same - a well trained generation to follow (II Timothy 2:2). Incidentally, I have known of many people who have taken others "under their wing" and provided the exact same mentoring you described. Every visit to the sick, every Bible study, every discussion - the "apprentice" was generally included and would learn from the experience of the "elder". When you return home, I would encourage you to seek out that help, if at all possible. We all need it to some extent - at some times more than others (Hebrews 10:24-25).
I hope to finish my original response to you over the coming weeks. Hopefully, it can be helpful too. ... Our area is recovering well. The community has responded very well, although several lives and many more homes were lost. Our inconvenience was nothing compared to many, so I have no complaints. Thanks for understanding during your difficulties as well.
By His love and grace,