Does God depend on us to evangelize?
That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. This is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now with your question. Our phone lines will be open for the next 25 minutes or so. Here's the phone number.
That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media accounts. In fact, you can watch Adriel live right now on our YouTube channel, and you can send him your question through YouTube. And you're always welcome to email us at Christians at COREChristianity.com. First up today, let's go to John calling in from Kansas. John, what's your question for Adriel?
Hi. Yes, I had a question. I'm new and I was told originally through the Bible that salvation is by grace only. But then I went to a church the other day and they were saying that in order to be forgiven of sins that you had to be baptized.
Hey, John, can I just follow up with you here? So were you saying at the beginning there that you're newer to the Christian faith? I mean, have you just started going to church recently?
Yes. I mean, I went to church as a child and as baptized as a child, and then I left the church for years. And then I recently, about six months ago or so, kind of got back into church again and stuff.
And it's wonderful to hear that you are just getting back to church after all of those years. And you're absolutely right that salvation is by grace. We can't do anything to merit our salvation, if you will. It's a gift that God gives to us. And this is something that's made clear throughout the New Testament, especially in places like Ephesians 2, verse 8. By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing.
It is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. And so you're saved unto good works, for good works, so that you might serve Jesus and follow Him, but you're not saved as a result of your good works.
And so I think that that's a really important distinction to make, and hopefully a helpful one for you as you're just getting back into church. Now the question is, baptism necessary for salvation? There are people who believe in Jesus Christ, who die prior to ever being baptized in water, and I believe that they're still in heaven, they're still in the presence of the Lord. That work of the Holy Spirit, where He turns our heart of stone, if you will, into a heart of flesh, living.
Regeneration is the word that we sometimes use to describe that, the new birth that Jesus talked about in John chapter 3. That can happen prior to baptism, that can happen the moment an individual is baptized, that might happen after someone is baptized. And baptism, as this sign and seal of God's promises, His grace to His people, this picture of the washing away of all of our sins, isn't necessarily tied to the grace of baptism, isn't necessarily tied to the moment that it's administered. And so it sounds to me like you were baptized years ago, and that was God's true promise to you, John, that as surely as you believe in Jesus Christ, He washes away all of your sins by faith. And so here you are, all these years later, beginning to go back to church and to lay hold of those promises by faith.
It is a wonderful thing, it is a beautiful thing, and ultimately what baptism points us to is to that reality of the work of God in our lives. I think of what Jesus said in John chapter 3. He's having a conversation with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, and he says to him in verse 5, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again.
The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. Now I think that Jesus is alluding in that passage, John, to something that the prophet Ezekiel said in Ezekiel chapter 36, where God promised to put his Spirit in his people, to fill them with his Spirit. And he says to them in Ezekiel 36 verse 25, I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, from all your idols. I will cleanse you, and I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. John, I pray that the Lord has done that work in your life, and I give thanks to God that you're starting to go back to church. I would say, man, get plugged in and grow in your understanding of the Christian faith.
Stay on the line. Hopefully we can send you a copy of the book, Core Christianity, to encourage you, to continue to build you up in your faith. And I just want to say a brief prayer right now for John as he gets, you know, plugged back into church, such a wonderful thing. Let's pray for John. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord, that after many years, John is back in church and wanting to know you and walk with you and understand your word. I pray that you would fill him with your Holy Spirit, and that I pray that in these days, Lord, as he continues to dig into your word, as he continues to fellowship with your people, that he would be encouraged, that he would be built up in the faith, and that he would grow more and more. Dear Father, in the grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, be with our brother and bless him, we pray. In Jesus' name, amen. Amen.
John, hang on the line. We'd love to send you a complimentary copy of the book, Core Christianity, the book that really got this program going. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
Just a follow-up for you, Adriel. He mentioned, John mentioned he was going to a church where he was told that baptism is necessary for salvation. We often talk about the non-negotiables of the faith, the core issues of the Christian faith. In your opinion, should a person be going to a church where they are told specifically, look, unless you are baptized, you are not sealed, you are not forgiven, you have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit because it requires this physical act in order for that to happen.
Yeah. Bill, you know, what I would say is if they're treating baptism as this work that you need to do so that you can be saved, and maybe, you know, usually churches that do this, they have a whole list of quote-unquote works, and baptism is just one of them. Well, then I think there's a serious misunderstanding about baptism. Baptism is first and foremost a picture of God's work in our lives. He's the baptizer.
He's the one who washes away our sins. Baptism is not primarily something that you do, but God, through a minister who's been called, is showering you with his grace. And so I think it sounds like there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the significance of baptism there, and certainly if a church is confusing the grace of salvation with, you know, well, here's the list of things that you need to do in order to be justified, I would have some serious issues. Now, I say that, and I think we also can't minimize the importance and the necessity of baptism in another sense. I mean, it's commanded in scripture. And so the opposite end of maybe that error are the churches that just think about things like baptism and the Lord's Supper as these sort of meaningless rituals. Oh, it's just kind of a picture of the gospel. Not that big of a deal. I have a personal relationship with Jesus. These old rituals, you know, that's not really where the Spirit is at work.
Well, actually, no. The Bible says the Spirit is working in and through these things. They're a means of grace that God gives to his people.
And so I also wouldn't want to minimize their importance, their necessity in that sense. And so I think we walk a fine line, and because I don't know more about John's church, I think I would just say this is where, as he continues to grow and hopefully get some more information, he'll have a clear understanding of the right decision for him. Great counsel. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. One of the gospels that focuses on the details of the Christmas story is the Gospel of Luke. Christmas is coming up in just a couple of weeks, and we actually have a brand new Bible study on Luke's gospel that we'd like to tell you about today. Yeah, one of the things that we love to do here at Core Christianity is platform God and his word.
That's where the power is. It's in Scripture. The Word of God does the work of God. And that's why we have these Bible studies that we produce pretty frequently. And then our latest one is on the Gospel of Luke, as Bill said, and I hope that you get ahold of this resource.
It's a 10-week Bible study, something that you could go through on your own or with a group of friends or maybe a Bible study group at your church, and it'll build you up in your faith. If you're looking for a new study to go through in the new year, I want to recommend this one to you, and you can get ahold of it with a donation of $20 or more. $20 or more will send it your way, and appreciate your support, brothers and sisters.
Pray that you'll be edified by this resource. You know, as we come up to the end of the year and you're considering your end-of-year giving maybe to a parachurch organization or some ministry that you really believe in, we want to remind you that Core Christianity is not supported by a denomination or a particular church. We actually rely on your generous support to keep this program going.
And you know what? We hear from thousands of people every year whose lives are changed by listening to this show and reading our Bible studies and using our other resources. So to get that Gospel of Luke Bible study and support Core Christianity, go to our website corechristianity.com forward slash offers.
That's corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Well, we do receive voicemails here at the Core. In fact, you can call us 24 hours a day and leave your question on our voicemail system.
Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Scott. There is a sign in a yard by our house that says, we depend on God and God depends on us. And it's made me think, how does God depend on us? I don't really like the way the word is phrased, and I was wondering what you thought of it. Thank you. Yeah, what an interesting sign.
I'd be curious, I mean, I'd like to get to know those neighbors and ask them about that sign in particular. I would say we depend on God absolutely for everything, for the very breath that we have in our lungs. It's only the mercy of God, the grace of God. Hebrews chapter 1 says that God upholds all things by the word of his power. In God's providence, he's holding the universe together. And so we absolutely, for our physical existence, for our spiritual life, for our salvation, depend upon the Lord 100%.
There's this doctrine, the doctrine of aseity. You probably have never heard of this doctrine, but it really is a significant doctrine in terms of our understanding of what's called theology proper, who God is. And basically what it says is this, God is the self-existent one. Remember what he says to Moses, I am who I am. He doesn't depend on anything or anyone. He doesn't depend on food or air like we do. He's self-existent. He has life in himself. And so I think people, we like to think, well, God depends on me for certain things.
But no, he doesn't. Now, that might make you think, well, boy, that doesn't make me feel so good. But here's what's so wonderful about this. Because God doesn't need us for anything, because he doesn't need me or you for anything, one, we are given the privilege of serving the Lord in the preaching of the Gospel, in ministering to the saints, and caring for the people around us.
But here's the other thing. God's love for you is totally free. He doesn't love you because he needs you. God didn't have a man-shaped hole in his heart, if you will, and so he decided to create humanity. And that's why he did it, because he was feeling lonely.
No, he's perfect. He's self-existent. He has everything he needs, and yet out of the abundance of his love, he created us. And when we had turned away from him in sin, he sent his Son into the world to redeem us. And so what this highlights is the freedom of God's love, the fact that he loves not as a needy person, if you will, but he loves freely. He loves us because he does.
It's who he is. And so, no, God does not depend upon us. We depend upon him, and that's actually really good news because it reveals to us that his love for us is free.
It's not under constraint or obligation. God bless. So well said. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Sarah, who's on the line from Las Vegas. Sarah, what's your question for Adriel?
Yes. When we fall into sin and temptations in our walk, I think most of the time we're crushed by it, and we'll often cry and grieve over our sin, but sometimes there is no emotional outpour afterwards, and we feel numb. Of course, we're disappointed in ourselves.
Like, you know, I can't believe I just did that. But what do we do in those times when we're disappointed and we want to mourn, but nothing comes? Thank you. Hey, Sarah, thank you for that question. First, let me just say, yeah, there is grief over sin that we can experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit as the people of God. Repentance, true repentance, is a change of mind induced by grief over sin. We recognize our sin for what it is, and we turn from it.
It's this turning away, turning toward God to receive His grace. Now, there were times in the history of God's people where because they had continued in patterns of sin, they didn't have that grief anymore. They had hardened their hearts, seared their consciences. I think of what the prophet Jeremiah said to the people in Jeremiah chapter 6, verse 15. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed.
They did not know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall. It's this picture of, right, they had hardened their hearts in sin. And I think for us as followers of Christ, and we do experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but there can be those seasons where we've struggled, and maybe we keep doing the same thing that we know is wrong, and we don't have that same sense of conviction, even though we know that it's wrong.
Well, here's what I would say. First, we can't exhibit enough grief to atone for our sins. I can't cry. You can't cry enough tears to atone for your sins. Atonement is found solely in the blood, sweat, and tears that Jesus Christ shed for us. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't be grieved about our sins.
We should be. But don't assume that God forgives you because He sees how sorry you are and because, man, now I just don't feel as sorry. That must mean that God doesn't forgive me anymore. No, when we confess our sins to the Lord, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. We can't and don't feel as grieved and sorry for our sins as we should. If we knew God and His holiness as perfectly as we ought, and we saw our sin for how heinous it is, we would be far more grieved. And so it's not that your sorrow and your grief atones for your sins.
That was the work of Jesus Christ. And if you are in a place right now where you feel like I don't have that same conviction over sin, I think you just go to the Lord and say, Father, help me. Have mercy upon me. Help me to see my sin for what it is and your holiness for what it is so that I would turn from my sins and follow you. And when you fall, when you struggle with sin, instead of just wallowing in it and trying to conjure up this grief, this sorrow so that God will forgive you, go to Christ.
Go to Christ and cling to what He's done for your forgiveness and pray that the Lord would work in your heart that true repentance, that true grief over sin. And I believe, Sarah, that that's a prayer that God wants to answer because He tells us to pray these things. Lead me not into temptation.
Deliver me from the evil one. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. God calls you to pray those things, whether you feel like it or not, and He promises to hear those prayers because they're in accordance with His will. And so may God fill you with His Spirit, give you comfort in Jesus Christ, knowing that Christ has atoned for your sin and through that great knowledge, through that great gift that God has given to you, may He help you and may He help all of us to have grief over our sins, to turn from them and to cling to His grace that we might serve Him. God bless, Sarah.
Such great words. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We are always open to hearing from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life.
In fact, you can email us anytime. Shoot your question to us at questionsatcorechristianity.com and our phone number again is 833-THE-CORE. Let's go to Mary who's calling in from Tennessee. Mary, what's your question for Pastor Adriel? Hi, Mary. Are you there? Yes, I'm here. Hey, what's your question, sister?
Hi. My question is, I have heard, although I haven't read, but I have heard that the celebration of Christmas with Christmas trees is part of a pagan religion and that it was done biblically years ago back in Bible time where people had idol worship to trees. And I was just calling to see if you can give me a scripture and verse that will support that or if that is just something that people say. Well, certainly throughout the Bible, idols were formed by all sorts of things, including trees. And in the prophets in particular, God often rebuked the people because they'd cut down this tree and then they'd use some of it to build a fire, they'd use some of it to build a house, they'd use some of it to build a quote-unquote God. And God would say, do you see how silly that is?
How foolish that is. You guys are bowing down before this piece of wood in worship. And again, this is something, especially in the book of Isaiah, I've been thinking about Isaiah a lot lately, you do see God rebuking the nations of the world for their idolatry and Israel as well for falling into this trap of idolatry of pagan worship. Now, that's not the same thing as the cultural practice of having a Christmas tree. I don't think that you're committing idolatry because you have a Christmas tree set up in your home.
I mean, I hope not. Now, if you were doing with your Christmas tree what the pagan nations were doing in the Old Testament by putting your trust in it and looking to it to bless you and praying to it and burning incense to it and so on and so forth, well, then that would be another thing, but that's not what people are doing. That's not what my family does, right? We decorate the Christmas tree, we have a great time, we drink hot chocolate, but it's not an act of pagan worship. So I would just say there are some people that want to draw that association and say, well, you know, if you're celebrating Christmas or if you have a Christmas tree, then maybe you're doing something wrong or sinning. I think that that's going too far.
That's just not the case. This is a fun sort of cultural thing that we do. It's not a matter of Christian worship, and it's not and should not be a matter of worship. The real paganism, I think, that we see around this time of the year in the United States is that lust for things, that covetous spirit, that materialism that can creep in around this time of year, that stress about, you know, having more and doing more and so on and so forth.
And so I think that's what we really need to watch out for, not having a Christmas tree per se. Merry God bless and Merry Christmas. Hey, Mary, thanks for calling.
By the way, we have a great free resource on our website that will help you with that particular question. It's called Five Reasons Christmas is Not a Pagan Holiday. And you can find that by going to corechristianity.com. We have time for one more call.
Let's go to Carolyn in St. Louis, Missouri. Carolyn, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, Pastor, thank you so much for your ministry and I've gotten so much out of it and I support it too. My question is putting on the armor of God. I understand that the word of God, if I remember correctly, is the sword and to stay in the Bible and look for guidance and look for his message. But what about the other ones? How do you put on the helmet of God or the shoes of God? I never got that.
Yeah, thank you for that question. You're talking about Ephesians chapter 6, the context of spiritual warfare for the believer for each and every one of us. Finally be strong in the Lord and the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
How do we do this? I think primarily through prayer and prayer is central here in this passage. Verse 18, praying at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. And so I think at the heart of this spiritual battle and putting on the armor of God is prayer, but you also note that each of these items, each of these pieces of armor is a gift that God gives to us, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes with the readiness of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith. These are things, Carolyn, that God gives to you.
So how do you put them on? Well, you receive them with joy and thanksgiving and prayerfully stand against the schemes of the evil one as you trust in Jesus Christ and walk by faith. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
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