When should a pastor refuse to baptize someone? 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, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Our phone lines are open right now. You can call us for the next 25 minutes or so.
We would love to hear from you. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. And, man, we're open to questions about theology and doctrine and you name it. So give us a call right now. You can also email us your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Jared calling in from Texas.
Jared, what's your question for Adriel? Hi. So I just wanted to say also thank you all for the ministry. It's been a great encouragement and help to me.
And I apologize. I've called in before and this question may be a bit repetitive, but kind of background. I started out very legalistic. I guess almost became like a Roman Catholic without the different ceremonies and stuff.
I'm just very legalistic on that side. And my question is, whenever I look at the test of Scripture for a true Christian, a true disciple, follower of Christ, I walk away a lot of the time feeling discouraged, like I've failed the test. And I know that it's Christ alone who saves.
And I just want to know how to avoid that hellish yo-yoing between like a legalistic climb to gain God's acceptance, but then also rolling myself to an easy believism. I'm just starting to lose hope. I don't know what to do. Yeah. Jared, I just first want to say I am so grateful for you calling in and even when you're wrestling with the same thing. And frankly, that's just how the Christian life is sometimes, you know, dealing with those same struggles, whether it's a struggle and believing something or wrestling with a particular kind of sin. It's that fight that we're in. No problem there in terms of you continuing to ask these questions because you are not alone. I can say, and I've said this on the broadcast before, I know what it's like to really struggle with assurance to yo-yo, as you said, between just, okay, I believe, and then slipping into legalism. I think all of us, that's kind of the tendency is we can slide slowly, even unknowingly, into this legalistic behavior.
And I know, Jared, that there are many people listening to the broadcast right now who struggle with this. You mentioned easy believism, right? Just the idea that, okay, I said a prayer, I accepted Jesus into my heart, I'm a Christian, and then people can sort of buy into this idea and then they go and live however they want, they reject the teachings of Christ, they're not a part of a church. Well, that's what we call lawlessness, antinomianism. And there's a deception there. And the other side of that deception is that legalistic attitude. And what is legalism? It's seeking to be justified that is made right in the sight of God on the basis of what you do.
Well, that's an equal and opposite error to the sort of antinomian error. And so we need to, as Christians, avoid both of those. But it is a struggle. It is a struggle, and the only hope that we have is as we clearly grasp the reality of the gospel, the depth of the love of Jesus, the strength of the cross, the power of the cross to forgive our sins, and walk in that grace, that freedom as the children of God, obeying the Lord, not because we think that our works are going to justify us or make us right in God's sight, but because we know that we've already been accepted in His sight.
And so here's what I want to do first. First, I just want to take a moment to pray for you, my brother, and just hearing your voice and knowing that you're discouraged, wanting to pray that the Lord strengthens you and grants you that peace and assurance in knowing Him. And I want to invite all of our listeners also to join me in praying right now for Jared. Our Father in Heaven, we come before you right now, and we lift our brother Jared up to you who has been wrestling with these questions. God, we thank You for the gospel of Your Son, Jesus Christ. We thank You, O Lord, for the power of the cross to forgive our sins. We thank You, God, for justifying us, not on the basis of our own righteousness or law-keeping, but on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Your Son, Jesus.
And I pray for Jared, God, that You would help him to understand that, to rest in that, to know that through faith in Jesus Christ, he is an accepted, beloved Son, adopted as Your child. God, that You have filled him with Your Holy Spirit so that he might follow You. And of course, we know, Lord, that the fight against sin is real, that we're going to battle every single day. But I pray that in the midst of that battle, that he would not be discouraged, Lord, but that You would strengthen him by the grace of Your Holy Spirit to follow You and to walk with Your Son, Jesus, every day. And we pray these things in Jesus' name.
Amen. Jared, as I said, look, we can all slip into this habit, and so I think you just have to ask yourself the question, do I view God's love for me and my acceptance as his child in his kingdom as being based upon my perfect obedience, how well I'm doing in the Christian life, or am I living and walking as one who has already been received, already been accepted by the grace of God? And I would just say that's what has to get into your mind, is just realizing the power of what Christ has done in uniting you to himself through faith and holy baptism. And that's precisely what the apostle Paul talks about in Romans chapter 6, verse 1, what shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
No way, Paul says, by no means. How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know, Paul said, that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For the one who has died has been set free from sin. And so there has been, Jared, in your life, through faith in Jesus Christ, this definitive break with sin, so that the old you has been crucified with Christ, buried with Christ, dead. Now, there's still that battle, and Paul is going to go on to describe that battle in the very next chapter, in Romans chapter 7, verse 15, I do not understand my own actions.
I do not do what I want to do, but the very thing that I hate, I do. So he talks about this battle that exists for us as believers between the flesh and our sinful inclinations, and the Spirit. And we're called, you're called, day by day to pursue the Lord, again, not as a means of being justified, but as a means of being filled with his Spirit, so that we might walk with him faithfully. And may the Lord, Jared, open your eyes, your heart, to receive more and more each day the love of Christ for you, and may you rest in it. It sounds to me like you're searching the Scriptures, looking for the evidences of a true disciple of Jesus, so that you can look at your own life and say, okay, I am a true disciple.
I do this, I do that, I do this, I do that. A true disciple of Jesus is someone who clings to him and to his righteousness by faith. And the Spirit of God lives in us and sanctifies us, but that process is slow and hard. And sometimes, you know, you look back on your life, and you can see over 10 years, 20 years, okay, I see how the Lord was chipping away at this and here or there. But you need to accept the fact also that we're going to wrestle with sin every day.
We're still going to struggle. That's not a justification for our sinful behavior. But if you're looking for a kind of sinless perfectionism or, right, this obedience, this heart of obedience is always eager to follow the Lord.
Not the greatest saint, quote unquote, on earth has that. We struggle, every one of us, and that's why we cling to Jesus by faith. And so may God fill your heart with faith to continue to do that, resting in Christ's work for you. And may that give you confidence that you are indeed a child of God. God bless you, Jared. Jared, thanks so much for your call and for listening to Core Christianity.
We really do appreciate you. Just a follow up question for you, Adriel. We do get a lot of calls from people who struggle with their emotions, their feelings about assurance of salvation, maybe from one day to the next. Today, I'm feeling like I'm really resting in God. Today, I'm not feeling it. How, historically, if we just look at the history of the church and some of the early saints, how did people deal with their fickle emotions?
And what do you think the best way for us to deal with them is? Yeah, well, first, not putting our confidence in our feelings. We walk by faith, and that is faith in God and in the objective promises of the gospel that are concrete.
You're going to wake up every day feeling a little bit different. There are going to be some times where you feel like, man, God does not seem very close to me right now. I don't feel his presence. And if you think that those feelings of the presence of God are what make you a Christian or the evidence that God is pleased with you, I mean, yeah, we have that sometimes, but what God wants is for us to rest in his sure word, in his promises. The anchor of our faith is Jesus Christ himself. That's what grounds us as believers. And so, you know, I find that many believers, you know, when they start to wrestle with these questions, and they're looking inside, and they're, you know, looking at their feelings, and boy, I just don't, quote unquote, feel saved, we got to point them outside of themselves to the objective word of the gospel and say, cling to that, sink your teeth into that, receive by faith. That's your word that when you trust in Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven.
I mean, John says in 1 John, if you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive you and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. It's not about your feelings. Did you feel it?
Do you not feel it? No, this is about God's promise. He's faithful and just to do it. For him not to do it would be for him to break his promise, if you will, and so we have to cling to those promises and to walk in those promises, even when we still struggle with those feelings. And so we have to continually go back to that, and I'll also add that, I mean, you mentioned, you know, throughout the history of the church, you know, godly men and women, people who have been used mightily by the Lord, not a one of them would say, I'm putting confidence in myself and what I do, because as we grow in Christ, we're made more and more aware of our sins.
It's like, you know, you think about, you get closer to the light and the shadow that's cast is even greater. And so it's like things that we maybe once did that we thought were not that big of a deal, we realized, boy, I can't believe that I did that as we get closer to the Lord. And so it's not that we become sinless, it's that we have this growing awareness even of our sin as we get closer to Jesus Christ. But with that should come a growing appreciation for the grace of God in our lives, and marveling at the magnificence of the cross of Jesus Christ, that He would cleanse me, a sinner. In view of all of these things that I'm aware of, God, thank you, thank you, and help me, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.
And I, as difficult as those questions are, I just know how many people struggle with this. I remember wrestling with this too, and so just wanting people to focus on and rest in the gospel of Christ and that concrete word of promise, and from that place to pursue God and holiness in their lives, walking with the Lord by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Such great words of reassurance.
You were bringing tears to my eyes as you were describing that, so thank you for painting that beautiful picture of God's grace and how we need to accept it. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open if you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, maybe some kind of struggle you're having. Here's the number. It's 833-THECORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Jacob calling in from Illinois. Jacob, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, Pastor Adriel.
This is Jacob calling. I've been listening to you guys for a while, and I really appreciate what you've done to help my faith. I was just listening to Jared talk about his struggle with Christ and listening to your advice about the old you is dead, hitting on Romans 7-15, how I don't understand my own actions, I do what I hate. Well, this thought kind of had me going, is this eternal?
Because I don't want to put my confidence in my feelings, but here's the real question, here's the bread and butter of it all. In Christianity, if I continue to follow Christ, will I become desireless or having a blank expression or personality? I understand it's not the common or desirable outcome of following Christ, but when my friend repeated this question to me, I didn't want to hinder his faith, so until I could call you to ask, I told him, I think it's just a matter of faith. Again, the question is, if I continue to follow Christ, will I become a desireless or a blank expression of my personality? Hey Jacob, Juan, thanks for your encouragement.
Glad that you have been blessed by the broadcast. I would say, man, absolutely not. As we continue to follow Christ, it's not just that we become these sort of blank expressionless robots saying, oh, well, I guess, God, whatever you want, it doesn't matter what I want or feel. No, God actually cares, I think, even about our desires, the longings that we have. Our temporal needs, I mean, Jesus taught us to pray for daily bread.
Well, what is that? Is this the physical needs that we have that God cares about? James talks about those who are rich in this present life, how God has blessed them with every good gift to enjoy. What I would say is, as we grow in our understanding of who Jesus is, in the love of Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, our desires might change. Maybe the desires we had for things that were evil and sinful, that begins to diminish. Those fires begin to be extinguished by the grace of the Spirit, little by little, or maybe all at once, miraculously.
I mean, it just depends. But we have these growing new desires, the desire to follow the Lord, the desire to obey Him, the desire to love our neighbors, the desire to be pleasing to God. And there's nothing blank or expressionless about it. I mean, I think there's deep emotion and longing. I was just talking to my congregation this past week about the Apostle Paul and the way he expresses himself in the Epistles, how he talks about the tears that he had. I mean, you think of as he's writing to the Ephesians, or as he's talking to the Ephesian elders, as Luke describes it in Acts chapter 20, he says he was with them for three years, night and day, with tears.
Why was he in tears? Well, because of that deep passion that the Lord had given to him for the good of the church. And so our desires, I think, as we grow in our relationship with Jesus, they change. They blossom into something different than what they would have been had we not had Christ in our lives. But they blossom into something beautiful, something life-giving, something full of joy in the fruit of the Spirit, peace, patience.
And that's something that we should long for. The Christian life, again, is not just sort of sitting back stoically and, you know, whatever you want, God, that kind of a thing. No, it's this love relationship started by God. He forgives our sins. We enter into this communion with him, and we experience what Paul describes in Ephesians, the depth, the height, the breadth, the length, the love of Christ which surpasses knowing. And as we experience that more and more in our lives, our desires begin to transform as well. And I hope yours are being transformed, brother, and I hope that same thing for everyone who's listening right now.
Amen. This is CORE Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, we'd love to hear from you. Our number is 833-THECORE. That's 833-843-2673. We get a lot of calls here at the CORE about God's will, his will when it comes to our relationships, our jobs, a move, everyday situations. We have a brand new booklet for you that answers just those questions.
Yeah, that's right. We've been offering it now for several days, and I hope that if you haven't gotten a copy yet, that you will reach out and get a copy of What is God's Will for Me? Insanely practical. Maybe you know someone in your life right now who's dealing with a difficult decision, trying to think through, okay, how do I know what God's will is for me here? If it'd make a great gift, you can get a hold of it for a donation of any amount over at COREChristianity.com.
Wonderful little booklet, just 50 pages long, and you could probably read it in an afternoon and an evening, but it will really be helpful to you. Again, it's called What is God's Will for Me? You can find that by going to COREChristianity.com forward slash offers. And of course, you can call us for any one of our offers at 833-THECORE. You can also call us or email us anytime with your question. Our email address, by the way, if you don't have it, is questions at COREChristianity.com. And here's an email from one of our listeners named Joe. Joe says, What is your opinion on baptizing someone who hasn't repented and at this point doesn't feel he needs to?
In this case, it's a homosexual lifestyle, but it could also be something like an unrepentant gossiper, adulterer, liar, or thief, or etc. I really value your opinion. Thank you. Friend, thank you for writing that in.
I mean, I'll just be honest. What you described grieves me greatly because we can't sanctify sinful behavior. I don't know all of the details of this situation. I don't know why this pastor thought this would be a good idea, but for someone who is living in open sin saying, No, I'm not going to follow Jesus here, to say, Well, you know, you're still welcome to the waters of baptism or to the Lord's table. I think that that's wrong. That's an offense.
That's a serious, serious issue. I think that raises all sorts of questions. And so, when an adult, we're not even getting into the question of infant baptism right now, but when somebody comes to faith in Jesus Christ and they believe in him, where they're called to be baptized, but as the baptized, they're also saying, I am a follower of Jesus. I want to observe everything he's commanded. When Jesus instituted baptism in Matthew 28, he told the apostles, go and make disciples baptizing all nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. And that goes down to the sexual ethics that are outlined in scripture, the call to be holy, the call to honor the Lord.
Again, we don't do that. We're not calling for sinless perfectionism. It's not that somebody can be perfect, but certainly we're called to turn from sin. And in baptism, we're saying that's essentially what I want to do. And so, in part, what it sounds like is happening here is you have an individual who's being told this is okay. God blesses you and this, and you're still the proper recipient of holy baptism, of this sacrament, this picture of union with Jesus in his death and resurrection, a call to walk in newness of life, even though you're not walking in newness of life and don't intend to walk in newness of life. And so I would say that that is egregious.
And I would be very concerned. I mean, if I would go as far as to say that, I mean, if this is, those are the details, I would look for a different church. And so I appreciate the question. I know it's a heavy one, but we have to take these things seriously. We have to take God's word seriously. 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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