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Faith Related Q and A

» I have been 'baptized' twice, first by my mother and once in a Baptist church. The Baptist church baptism is the only one I have documentation for, even though it came second. Even though my mother baptized me first and would have used the Trinitarian formula, I can't actually remember it, and have no documentation. Which one should I view as my one and only baptism?
If you were baptized following the Bible’s directive of using water and the word of God, you were the recipient of a legitimate Baptism. It sounds like your second Baptism was not necessary. Rather than focusing on differentiating between your Baptisms, I would encourage you simply to focus on the blessings of Baptism. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

» Back in high school I made a huge mistake of having sex with one guy. I didn’t know Christ fully, but I came to Christ three years later. But the past still haunts me. I’m 23, still single and haven’t dated since then. Is it possible of bearing the consequences now for my past sin, even though I’ve gotten baptized and have been serving at church? Does God ever punish us for past sin, or is that the enemy sending those thoughts?
Satan thrives on accusing Christians of their sins (Revelation 12:10). Thankfully, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became man to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8). Jesus did just that by resisting Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11) and by crushing him (Genesis 3:15) through his atonement for sin and triumphant resurrection from the dead. The comforting message of the Bible is that “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Jesus Christ was punished for your sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). God does not punish Christians for sins they commit. God may discipline his children (Hebrews 12), but his motive is love and correction not punishment. “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). It sounds like you have confessed the sin that remains in your memory. With that being the case, cling to the gospel message that your sins are forgiven. When God forgives sins, he blots them out of his memory (Isaiah 43:25). The fact that you can remember your sin from the past does not mean that your sin is not forgiven. It means—in a sense—that you have a better memory than God. I encourage you to use God’s gospel in word and sacrament faithfully to grow in the confidence and conviction that God has forgiven all your sins for Jesus’ sake. Remember your baptism. In it, God clothed you with the garments of salvation Jesus won for you by his holy life and innocent death (Galatians 3:26-27). Seek the counsel of your pastor or other trusted Christian counselor if you need further assistance in dealing with the past. God bless you!

» Is an NRSV with Apocrypha an acceptable Bible to use for devotional purposes?
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) is a 1989 revision of the Revised Standard Version (RSV), which first appeared in 1952. Both versions are products of the National Council of Churches. While the NRSV updated the English language of the RSV, it retained some of its objectionable features. Probably most noteworthy is its denial of the prophecy of the virgin birth of Christ (Isaiah 7:14). While the apocryphal books are not canonical, they can serve as useful reading materials. Martin Luther included them between the Old Testament and the New Testament in his German Bible. He did so with the instruction that, while the books can provide useful reading, they are not to be considered on the same level as the canonical books. I would encourage you to use a different, more reliable Bible translation for your devotional purposes. If you use the one about which you are inquiring, you would do well to use another, more reliable Bible translation alongside it. This link will take you to the Bible translations offered by Northwestern Publishing House.