Question:

Hello,

I was baptized as a teenager. It is only now, over twenty years later, that I have repented. I just "got" what repentance truly means after committing many sins! Does this mean I was not saved when I was baptized -- was it in vain? Do I need to be baptized now?

Here is what I think salvation is: Hear, Repent, Confess, be Baptized, and repent again if you stumble. I do not believe in the 'once saved" thing.

While I have studied over the last couple of years, I am still unsure whether I am really in Christ.It seems to me that one must have a change of heart (repentance). I don't believeI did until the last few years. I remember some of the reasons I was baptized.

  • I was afraid I was going to die at the amusement park we were getting ready to go to. There were stories of people falling out of roller coasters and dyingthat summer.
  • I knew that I could be "sinless" for a little while and hoped I would die soonso that I could go to heaven.
  • I knew that I had to be baptized to be forgiven of my sins.
  • I was old enough to know, so if I did not then I wouldn't be saved.
  • I knew that if I did sin God would take me back and that it seemed like that is almost 'better' since there is so much stress on the 'lost' being found again, returning. So, over the last twenty years or more I have been not only sinning, but sinning so that I can be "lost," but because I was willfully sinning, then I am in jeopardy of hell. So I am lost and made a mockery out of Jesus dying on the cross so I will not be taken back.

Do you have any suggestions of Scripture for me?

Also, when I look at my current life, I do not see any fruit, only dried up dead branches! It seems like I cause turmoil at every church we attend. While I do not intend to cause division, it seems like every time I turn around something else has come up causing strife in the congregation because of something I said or did. We do not have anyonequalified to be an elder, but I have talked with others in the church (men and women) and they do not seeme as the one causing division, but I certainly feel like it is me!I am not a good wife or a good mother. I am very selfish, disrespectful to my husband.I don't see how I can be in Christ and not at the very least respect my husband! I spend countless hours doing things for other people, but not him.

On a side note, I will try to talk with our preacher this week -- we do a weekly Bible study with him. I just don't want to add more stress to him as there has been some very stressful stuff going on. But honestly, I am ready to withdraw myself from the congregation.I find myself thinking like I did in my past. I am ready to give up the fight and stop any association with the church.One thought has been to just change to one of the other congregations in town as it would help in this latest dispute.But I find myself thinking more to just quit.Which leads me back to the 'dead branch;' how can I even consider something like that? Am I absurd? What is wrong with me?

Anyway, thanks foryour site!I came across your site and loved the articles and the question and answer sections.Thought I would ask.


Answer:

I assume it was an oversight, but I do wonder why faith was left out of your list. If you are interested in a better, more complete list, see What Saves a Person?

I cannot answer whether you actually repented of your sins back then. Only you can answer that question. You did fall into the trap that Paul warned against: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). If you are uncertain that you truly repented of your sins, then what I generally suggest is to be baptized again now that you have repented. Such causes no harm. If you had not done as God commanded the first time, this will correct the problem. If you had done what God commanded, then at worse, you got wet. But in either case you can continue though life confident of where you stand. It isn't the past that matters so much as what you do with your future.

Not knowing what you've done, or what the controversies are, I cannot comment on whether you are causing problems. That others are telling you "no," is something to take note of.

That you want to quit the church tells me that while you talk of wanting to please God, you aren't committed to doing so. Notice how you can list all the things you are doing wrong, but there is no apparent effort to correct your problems. Becoming a Christian doesn't automatically make you a better person. It won't make you a better wife or mother. Constant effort at improving yourself is required. Being a Christian teaches you how to be a better wife, mother, and person, but you have to put it into practice. "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" (II Peter 1:8-10). It seems to me that you are continuing to accept your sins and avoid effort. Think about it: How is quitting church going to get you to heaven?

Yes, it was an oversight. I realized it later and almost emailed you to let you know that 'believe' is part of the list.

I am certain I did not repent when I was younger, that I have no doubt. I am also certain I have repented now, except for concernsabout the struggle with being a good wife, mother. I believe repentance is changing your heart and turning from your wicked ways.I am grievous over what I have done, and how I cannot seem to overcome these certain areas.I haveabsolutelychanged my life. I am 100% certain I have repented of my old ways. Except that I am still struggling with being a respectful wife and unselfish.Ido not want to bedisrespectful or selfish toward my husband and I am trying not to. Hmm ...I am trying tonot do "XYZ",thinking that by not doing that I will automatically do "ABC."I cannot simply not do something, I must also purposely do something else! I can "not go to Walmart," but that doesn't automatically put me in a different store. I must actively go to the other store! So unless I am purposely saying nice, loving respectful things to my husband, I will continue to struggle! Thanks!

Quite the contrary, I want to please my Lord, by constantly letting Him down I do not deserve any inheritance. If I cannot overcome, and I shouldcontinue in sin I should be withdrawnfrom. Being apart from my Lord will not get me to heaven. But just because I am part of a local body of believers it isn't going to get me there either if I am in sin.

I am studying and seeking counsel with older ladies, although this is very difficult due to the size of our assembly. I have 'Christian' books that I have read, although I resorted to doing extra Bible study, since so many are about "faith only" or "once saved." I decided in my spiritual condition I need what God intended: His Word and that alone. There are some booksfromsisters and brethren that have been helpful, those I use in some of my study. I have goals, both large and small, although they will be changed now that I realize I need to be actively respecting, etc. I have a completely different priorities in my dealings with people Colossians 3:17. Unfortunately, my husband wasn't included, but I do see that changing.

I have a lingering uneasiness about being baptized again. It comes from my upbringing, but I don't know the full extent.It's one of those - "well, that is what I was always taught" but don't have book, chapter verse for it. Hopefully I will think of it. I will continue to study about this. Maybe it is something about being baptized again for remission of sins? I'll keep studying.

Actually the reason for wanting to "withdraw" myselfis because I am trying yet still not able to be pleasing as I know my Lord requires. Some days are better than others. I have been consistent in accomplishing one of my goals, but see myself slipping backwards. I read "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first" (Luke 11:24-26) and feel like I wasted my gift of salvation, and because I did not fill my heart with Christ, I am now worse offthan before.

Regarding II Peter 1:8-10,I'm definitely not adding temperance to my knowledge!In some areas of self-controlI have it mastered, but in others I am utterly failing! What's the verse about bridling the tongue and it is what comes out of us that defiles us, not what we eat? When I look at my words I see there is something wrong with my heart. For how can I be so condescending and rude to my husband? My heart certainly isn't filled with Christ if I can be so disrespectful.I can't serve two masters.I want to serve God! But I do not feel my actions are lining up with Him.It brings me back to Luke 11; I am much worse now than I was before being baptized.

Thank you for answering, I appreciate the time you took.

I don't see someone who is worse off. I see a woman who now has a more accurate view of herself and is continuing to make improvements in her life. "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). Being a Christian is not about perfection or near perfection. It is about growing. "But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ" (Ephesians 4:11). None of us will reach the perfection of Christ -- not even close, but that is the direction every Christian is heading. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Because you are trying to function as both judge and jury in your own case, you are being more harsh on yourself. Withdrawal is for those who are in sin and who have no desire to change. That isn't your case. Clearly as bad habits are replaced with good ones there will be a struggle, but the effort is worth the result. No, you may not have yet mastered your tongue, but then James said that is one of the hardest things to do. "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). But we all keep working for better control.