Bible Questions & Answers
Why do you teach that baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins?
Many churches today are telling people that they are saved at the point of faith and should then subsequently be baptized as a declaration of that fact. However the New Testament does not support such an idea.
On the day of Pentecost, after Peter informed his audience that they had killed God’s Messiah, some were conscience stricken (“pierced to the heart”), and asked “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter answered by telling them to “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)
The phrase “for the forgiveness of sins” is identical with that used in Matt 26:28, when Jesus said that his blood was “poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” -- not because sins had already been forgiven, but in order that they be forgiven.
When the preacher Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus (who now believed and had repented) he instructed him: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and WASH AWAY THY SINS, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Act 22:16)
To be sure, there is nothing we can do to merit salvation -- it by the grace of God through faith (Eph 2:8-9). However that in no way negates the fact that saving faith must be obedient faith (James 2), and one of God’s requirements is that we be immersed for the remission of sins.
If the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill,” how can a Christiansupport capital punishment?
This is a good question, and one that has concerned many people in our country’s recent debate on this issue.
Let us first notice that the same Law of Moses which said “Thou shalt not kill [murder]” (Exodus 20:13) also said “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12) This clearly demonstrates that capital punishment and murder should not be equated in our minds.
Actually, before the Law of Moses was given, all the way back in Genesis 9:6 God decreed, “Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” It is the sanctity of human life which requires such a severe punishment for one who would kill his fellow man.
In the New Testament, we are told that civil government is ordained by God and that “it does not BEAR THE SWORD [the power of life and death] for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.” (Rom 13:4)
The apostle Paul acknowledged that there were offenses for which one might deserve to die (Acts 25:10-11).
The death penalty should be very judiciously applied, but we need to remember God’s warning, “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses . . . for blood pollutes the land and no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it.” (Num 35:30ff)
As long as I follow my conscience, won’t I be alright with God?
It is widely believed that if our conscience approves our conduct we may be assured that we are living right.
However, this is a false and potentially disastrous assumption. Although our conscience is a part of our God-given makeup, and is designed to help us direct our lives, it MUST be properly taught to properly perform this function.
The life of the apostle Paul is a perfect demonstration of this truth. Before becoming a Christian Paul viciously persecuted Christians. He later declared that he did this with a good conscience (Acts 23:1; 24:16; 26:9). How could a zealous, religious, devout person be so wrong and yet believe that he was pleasing God? Paul himself tells us: “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted IGNORANTLY in unbelief” (1Tim 1:13).
In one of the most sobering statements He ever uttered, Jesus tells us that in the day of judgment there will be MANY who will mistakenly believe that they have lived their lives in service to Him but who will be told “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt 7:21-23)
It is important to listen to our conscience, but only when it has been properly taught by the only safe guide – the Bible.
Can one believe in the Bible and in the existence of dinosaurs?
In recent years our country has experienced what someone has called “dinosaurmania.” Movies like Jurassic Park and a plethora of books and newspaper articles have created enormous popular interest in the subject.
Some Christians fear that the credibility of the Bible’s account of creation might be jeopardized by accepting the idea of the existence of such creatures in the past.
Paleontologists agree that there are a number of unanswered questions about dinosaurs (or, “terrible lizards”) -- when did they exist; when and why did they become extinct, exactly what was their appearance, diet, habits, etc.
However there are several important facts that should be kept in mind:
1. The Bible affirms that all life forms were created by God. (Gen 1:20-25; Ex. 20:11)
2. There is credible fossil evidence for the past existence of animals which are now extinct, some of which were obviously extremely large.
3. Much of what is seen in popular depictions of dinosaurs is (of necessity) speculative reconstruction.
4. The existence or non-existence of dinosaurs does not prove or disprove the theory of organic evolution.
Doesn’t Ephesians 2:3 show that man is born with a sinful nature?
In this verse Paul says that before their conversion the Ephesians were “by nature children of wrath.” Calvinists see this as describing a condition of inherited total depravity in which all men are born.
The key word “nature” is translated from the Greek PHUSIS, which can mean either:
- that which a person is as a result of his birth,
- that which by long habit has become nature
To determine which of these meanings Paul has in mind, we simply need to consider what else is said in verses 1-3 about the Ephesians’ former life:
"ye were dead through YOUR trespasses and sins"
"wherein YE ONCE WALKED (lived)"
"sons of DISOBEDIENCE"
"we also all once LIVED in the lust of OUR flesh"
"DOING the desires of the flesh"
Clearly this describes not something inherited but “a mode of feeling and acting which by long habit has become nature." (Thayer’s Lexicon)
It is not the sins of my father, or grandfather, or anyone else, back to and including Adam, that render me spiritually dead. In the words of Ezekiel,
The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (18:20)