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Can you be baptized for the dead?

Question:  Please comment on 1 Corinthians 15:29.  Can you be baptized for the dead?

Answer:  1 Corinthians 15:29 reads “Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?”  Paul is addressing two ridiculous notions:  First, the Corinthians were doubting the resurrection.  Second, being baptized for the dead.”  So Paul is in effect saying, “How ridiculous would it be to be baptized for the dead, when you don’t even believe in the resurrection!”  Both are ridiculous notions.

Therefore, Paul is not encouraging baptism for the dead.  He’s simply pointing out two equally ridiculously held beliefs by the Corinthians.

Can I baptize my own children?

Question:  I know that Scripture tells us to go and make disciples of men, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Is there anything that prevents me, as the spiritual head of my household, from baptizing my family personally?

Answer:  Nowhere in Scripture is baptism relegated to ordained clergy.  Anyone who is a believer can baptize another believer.  Here at Grace, minister typically baptize.  However, that is not set in stone–it is simply our practice.

Praying to the Saints

Question:  So I was taught by a Catholic friend, that asking the saints to pray for you is the same as asking your friend to pray for you.  Is that a different opinion?  How do you feel about that?

Answer:  Praying to the saints has several problems.  First of all, it assumes that some human beings have attained a better status than others.  The Bible clearly teaches that we come to God by grace, not by our own merits.  Second, it assumes that saints are focused on what’s happening on earth, when in fact they are worshiping Jesus.  Third, it assumes that we have to go through someone else in order to get to Jesus.  When Jesus died on the cross, he opened the way for us into God’s throne-room.  Our prayers can have the same effect as any other person’s.  Finally, we are told to ask other believers (who are alive) to pray for us.

Power in Speaking God’s Word

Question:  Is there power in speaking Scripture aloud when you are under attack by Satan?

Answer:  There is power in Scripture.  Hebrews 4:12 speaks to this:  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”    Ephesians 6 describes God’s Word as the only offensive weapon in the armor.  Therefore, the primary way we will advance is through knowing and using God’s word.

Regarding saying it aloud–I’m not sure if there is any extra power because it is said aloud.  Memorizing and applying God’s Word is the most effective way, in my opinion, to use its truths for the problems you are facing.


Convincing someone of another religion of the truth of the Gospel

Question:  How does a believer in Christ convince a member of another religion that their scriptural texts are false and the Bible is true, when their texts claim truth and they see the Bible as fallacy?

Answer:  First of all, if any convincing happens, it will be done by the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit who draws people to Jesus Christ.  Still, it is our responsibility to communicate the Gospel as clearly and compassionately as possible.  With that in mind, we can direct them to works by Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell that chronicle their journey from unbelief to belief.  Their personal testimonies combined with their intellectual pursuits are convincing.

The best thing you can do is to live the Gospel in front of your friend and pray for an opportunity to share.  Then, when the opportunity arises, be ready to share.  Know that this may take years.  And that’s ok.  Also, don’t forget that it isn’t your job to convince anyone of anything.  Your job is to be available to the Holy Spirit.

If unconditional election were true what would that change? Would God be just?

God would be just if no one went to heaven.  None of us deserve the grace of God.  We must not allow the biblical teaching on election (for which I think the term “unconditional election” is a poor choice of words), to diminish God’s just nature.  God is just.  He elects and man responds.  He chooses and man chooses.  He elects and man has free will.

I thank Jerry Seagle for this quote from C. S. Lewis, “I think we must take a leaf out of the scientists’ book.  They are quite familiar with the fact that for example, Light has to be regarded both as a wave in the ether and as a stream of particles.  No-one can make these two views consistent.  Of course reality must be self-consistent; but till (if ever) we can see the consistency it is better to hold two inconsistent views than to ignore one side of the evidence.  The real inter-relation between God’s omnipotence and Man’s freedom is something we can’t find out.  Looking at the Sheep and the Goats, every man can be quite sure that every kind act he does will be accepted by Christ.  Yet equally sure, we all do feel sure that all the good in us comes from Grace.  We have to leave it at that.  I find the best plan is to take the Calvinist view of my own virtues and other people’s vices; and the other view of my own vices and other people’s virtues.  But tho’ there is much to be puzzled about, there is nothing to be worried about.  It is plain from Scripture that, in whatever sense the Pauline doctrine is true, it is not true in any sense which excludes its (apparent) opposite.  You know what Luther said, “Do you doubt if you are chosen?  Then say your prayers and you may conclude that you are.”

If Christ died for all the sins of the people, does that mean everybody will be saved?

No.  Scriptures is clear that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  (Romans 10:9).  Salvation is conditioned on man’s response.  If man does not respond to the Gospel, he will not be saved.  For God to save everyone would mean that He was saving some against their will–which goes against God’s character.

How can grace be irresistible if at times Jesus called and some rejected?

Question:  I have heard irresistible grace to be:  at the moment of your salvation, it was impossible to turn away from His grace.   Is this understanding correct?  It seems like there were times in the NT when Jesus called and some rejected…how then was God’s call irresistible?

First of all, I think irresistible is a poor term to describe God’s grace in the salvation experience (and the word’s hard to type too!  Try it!).  I think overcoming is a much better word because it shows how God goes to great lengths to overcome our objections to him.  Having said that, one only need to listen to Jesus’ lament in Matthew 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”  Here, it is clear that Israel rejected God’s messengers–His prophets.

Second, this question requires us to delve into God’s general call and his effectual call.  Check out the first question in this series: “Does God woo all?”

If Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, why are only some saved?

Because not all respond to Jesus’ invitation to be saved.  “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”  John 1:12