Question:

I recently turned my life to God. I'm on your web site all the time learning on what things to do and not do. I'm also reading the Bible. I don't know everything in the Bible, so I'm currently educating myself. I've come to be a bit confused since I have a hard time understanding many things.

I believe I am saved. I'm working on myself trying to stop certain sins and trying to be righteous. I plan on being baptized with a church but I don't know when they'll have the ceremony. I have to wait until they get a lot of people to do it. Since I believe I am saved, I fear I can go to hell because I'm not baptized.

The whole scripture on salvation, being saved and being baptized its understandable to a certain point. I have read articles on each of the topics but it don't understand 100% and was hoping you can explain it to me part by part so I can understand fully. Like, since I believe I am saved, but still struggling with cursing and such. It's really hard to not use euphemisms, but I'm trying. If I died right now, for example, will it be too late, even though I am transitioning? Will God be say "you weren't baptized to receive the kingdom of heaven"?

I want to be baptized as soon as possible, I guess with the fear that something could happen to me, and just me not wanting to delay God's plan and blessings for me. I'm working on fear as well. This whole thing is a lifestyle change. Somethings I was able to stop straight up and others I'm really trying to stop but having difficulty, because I feel I can't just stop suddenly, it takes time. Can you explain this to me in the simplest way possible?


Answer:

Believing you are saved is not the same as knowing you are saved. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6). It is knowing we have done as the Lord commanded that then leads us to know that we are saved.

This then leads to your dilemma. You believe you are saved, but you also know that you haven't done all that the Lord commanded. We know that the early disciples understood the importance of being saved. When Saul was taught by Ananias, "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). When the Philippian jailer wanted 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 16:31-33). And this even though Acts 16:25 said the events started around midnight.

Why the urgency in obeying God's commands? Because the people knew that the future is uncertain. "Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). They did not risk the possibility of not having another opportunity.

"For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).

Frankly, when people truly believe God and are willing to do as He commands, the gap between belief and baptism isn't all that great. The possibility of dying before obeying is slim, and I'm confident that the Lord watches over those who are His.

When the Ethiopian asked, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" The answer was, "If you believe with all your heart, you may" (Acts 8:37-38). There is nothing preventing salvation but a person's own heart.

You are with a group that doesn't believe that baptism is necessary, they do it to add people to their denomination but it isn't seen as having anything to do with salvation. However, they are wrong. See: Baptism: Necessary for Salvation. I would strongly urge you to find a real church that follows the Bible fully. Such a church will see the urgency in following all of God's commands.

In regards to sin, habits are hard to break. It isn't that you will stop sinning once you become a Christian. You will still struggle with old sins and new ones will crop up. The difference, though, is your attitude toward sin. Where in the past you might not have cared, now you do. Where in the past you might let things slide, now you are motivated to change. "Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother" (I John 3:7-10 NASB).