Question:

Hello,

I have a couple of questions, but I hope I am not bothering you in any way.

Do you need to be baptized in order to go to heaven? If so, what other things must you do? Do you need to be baptized to be a Christian? Can you be a Christian if you believe in the Lord and the Bible? If ones parents are not Christian, can one be a Christian? If a person prays to the Lord every day but does not go to church as a child because of difference of religion between parents and child can the child go to church when he or she is older and be forgiven?

What does Acts 16:31 ("And they said, "And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”") mean?

And two more about what we are allowed or not allowed to do:

Are the use of contraceptives (condoms, birth control pills, etc.) considered sin or prohibited?

Are there days in which a Christian has to fast? If so, which specific days? What kind of fasting is required?

Thank you very much! :)


Answer:

Being Saved from Sin and Entering Heaven

God made a promise to mankind. "And this is the promise that He has promised us -- eternal life" (I John 2:25). The promise is available to everyone, but everyone will not receive it because everyone will not meet the conditions God placed upon men. You can't receive the promise in any fashion that you desire. The promise is from God and we have to meet the requirements that God has placed on us. "For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:36).

One condition is that we must meet is entering into a covenant with Christ, or "putting on Christ." "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:26-29). Peter also mentioned the promise: "Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39). The gift from the Spirit is the promise of eternal life. "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Belief is a critical element to entering into the covenant, but it isn't the only element. See What Must I Do to be Saved? You can buy the ingredients for a feast, cook it to perfection, but if you don't sit down and eat it, the food does you no good. In the same way faith, repentance, and confession does a person no good if they will not obey the command of God to be baptized and enter into His covenant. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7).

Being a Christian is a personal decision. Whether your parents choose to be a Christian or not has nothing to do with your own decision. Sometimes choosing to be a Christian puts a person at odds with his parents. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26). Jesus is not talking about a literal hatred, but the relative value you put on your family versus God.

Acts 16:31 was the immediate answer to the question the jailer asked of Paul and Silas. It was what the jailer and his family needed to do next to be saved. "And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized" (Acts 16:30-33). Notice that the jailer and his family did believe because we next see them entering the covenant with Christ by being baptized.

Attending worship services is necessary for a Christian because it is a part of the Lord's commands. See: Can I be a Christian and not go to church? and Does a person have to attend church?

Contraceptives

Since you talk about your parents, I don't know if you are talking about the use of contraceptives now, or if you are thinking about the future when you get married. Sex prior to marriage is a sin. "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). It doesn't matter whether steps were taken to prevent the conception of a child or not; it is the act of sex that is wrong. See: Why Sex Outside of Marriage Is Wrong. If you are talking about after marriage, see Contraceptives.

Fasting

See: Should Christians fast?

Hello,

Oh, I see. So in order to go to heaven, you need to be baptized, as well as truly believe in the Lord to receive the gift of eternal life in Heaven, right? Is there an age limit to be baptized? I understand that you need to be baptized to receive the gift of eternal life, but do you need to be baptized in order to become a Christian?

What did you mean when you said, "Sometimes choosing to be a Christian puts a person at odds with his parents. "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26). Jesus is not talking about a literal hatred, but the relative value you put on your family versus God."? Did you mean that if I am not following the religion of my parents, then I hate them? Is it possible for someone to become a Christian when their parents aren't and still love their parents (but love God greatest), despite religious views?

I understand that going to church is a commandment, but if someone does not go to church as a child because of difference of religion between parents and child, can the child go to church when he or she is older and be forgiven if he or she repents and asks for forgiveness?

In the link that you sent me (http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2011/05-09a.html), in the Question box, the person who asked you the question wrote, "...and all you listen to is Christian music...". Are Christians only allowed to listen to Christian music? Or is he trying to say something else?

So only some contraceptives, such as condoms, are allowed, and some are not, right?

Baptism

You need to understand what God requires of you, listening to what God said in His word. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). That produces faith in you. Because you believe what God said, you change your mind about sin and your behavior in regards to sin. That is called repentance (Luke 13:3). Faith isn't real if you won't admit that you believe, so God requires confession of your faith. "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). Baptism is the final act that represents the washing away of the old life of sin and entering a new life dedicated to Christ.

You have to be baptized to become a Christian and with that comes the promise of eternal life, though that is conditioned on you remaining a faithful Christian. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14).

There is no set age limit, but implied is that you are old enough to have faith, understand that you have sins, and can choose for yourself to be baptized.

Family

In Luke 14:26, Jesus is talking about the practicalities of making a decision to follow him. That choice may put you at odds with your family. For example, Jesus was talking to Jews at the time. A decision to become Christians would mean leaving Judaism, which would not set well with family who think everyone should remain a Jew. Jesus' point is that you have to choose and that choice will mean that you love your family less than you love your Lord. On a relative scale it can be seen as "hating" your family. Sometimes it actually comes down to that. I've seen people choose to be Christians and their families tried to talk them out of it by saying, "Don't you love us?" or "If you do this you'll be spitting on your grandfather's grave," and other such nonsense. Such pressure can be hard to face, so Jesus warns people in advance.

It doesn't mean the Christian hates his parents, but compared to the Lord, parents take a distant back seat in priorities.

Attendance as a Child

A child doesn't have full control over his life. He would have to do the best he can within the limitations he faces. I've known young people who left home just so they could be a Christian, but such dedication is rare and there is the possibility that a parent might take legal action against the child. I can only state what God said to do, unless God specifically stated there is an exception, I can't grant one on behalf of God; it just isn't my place (I Peter 4:11). How God views the difficulties you might have in making your own choice will have to be between you and God.

Music

The person thought that he could bargain with God, saying that he would X number of things and that God should be satisfied with those things, even if they aren't what God asked for from him. The music we offer up to God in worship is restricted to psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19). What you choose to listen to is up to you so long as the words are moral. See: Is it okay to listen to secular music?

Contraceptives

For married couples, methods that prevent the conception of a child are fine. Methods that allow conception but prevent the child from developing are wrong because it is allowing a human life to be formed and then killed. Murder is wrong whether it happens before or after birth.