Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have received in my ministry over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: If I sin after I become a Christian, do I lose my salvation? — J. K.
Dear J. K.: No. When a person truly receives Christ as Lord and Savior, he/she receives a new “spiritual” parent ... God. This is what the Bible means when it talks about being “born again.” And if we genuinely receive this “new birth” and become God’s child, we can’t be “unborn again.” Indeed, we remain God’s spiritual child forever. Nothing can change that fact ... nothing. See Romans 8:37-39. It’s the same with our “natural” parents. My natural mom and my natural dad will always be my mom and dad. The instant I was born, I became their child ... forever.
However, I can choose, through an act of my own will, (even though I will always be their child) to rebel against my mom and my dad, and go my own way. I can choose to disobey them ... even choose to become estranged from them. Our fellowship ... our closeness ... even our relationship, can become a thing of the past. The choice is mine.
If that were to happen, my parents would be deeply hurt and disappointed by my actions They would pray that I come to my senses, that I return to a close personal relationship with them, but they would still allow me to “go my own way.” God is like that. When we choose to go our own way, even after we have become God’s child, the Bible calls this sin. Our sins separate us from God. They break his loving heart, and he longs for our return to him.
Unfortunately, millions and millions of people today find themselves in the very situation I have described ... they are God’s child ... but estranged from God. Being “born again,” perhaps decades ago, but today no longer going to church. No longer reading God’s word, the Bible. No longer spending time with God in prayer. Indeed, even doing things that are wrong in God’s sight.
But God has thought of everything. His remedy is called “repentance and reconciliation.” And based on I John 1:8-9, if we repent (turn and go in the opposite direction), then confess to God, and ask him for forgiveness, he is “faithful to forgive our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Wow! How awesome is that? Easter 2012 is less than one month away. So what better time for us to return to our Heavenly Father than now, today, this Easter season.
Dear Father Paul: One of my best friends in school says that, there are lots and lots of good religions and just about any of them will get you entrance into heaven when you die. I am a Christian and I don’t agree, but I don’t want to appear dogmatic or lose a friend. What should I say? I am 15. -— L.S.
Dear L.S.: I understand — believe me, I really do. All believers, sooner or later, find themselves in a similar situation. I call them, “moments of truth.” Do I stand up (in a loving way) for the faith that is in me? Or do I give in to fear of what a person I care about will think about me? A tough choice, especially when you are 15.
I would recommend this. Say, “I understand what you are saying. Lots of people may agree, but, sorry, I don’t think I can. I am a Christian, and Jesus (God’s Son) says something very different in the Bible. In John 14:6 Jesus says this, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me.” To me that statement is pretty plain, and I believe it. All religions are not the same, and all religions will not get you to heaven when you die. Only the Jesus of the Bible will. There are some absolute truths and I believe this is one of them.”
Do you have a question? I will try to answer your question in the paper. Email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is a Spirit-filled, Sacramental congregation. You are cordially invited to worship with us this coming Sunday. More information, directions and pod-casts of Father Paul’s Sunday sermons are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com