This blog reflects my faith in God and the joy and freedom I have in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. It is my hope and prayer that these articles, based on God's Word will bring hope and salvation to someone who hasn't yet experienced that joy. All Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible (NIV)
Many church denominations today push the idea of “Decision Theology”. Maybe some who are reading this blog post do not know what Decision Theology means. It is possible also that many who are reading this do know what it means and feel or have been taught that it is the only way to heaven.
The purpose of this post is to define “Decision Theology”, state the truth, and most importantly, to offer comfort in the knowledge that the way to heaven does not depend on anything we do, say, or feel of our own decision. Salvation is a free gift of God’s love and mercy for lost sinners.
(Luther’s Catechism, Anniversary Edition pg.186)
Can people decide, by the power of their own wills, to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?
Unfortunately, many today speak about faith in Christ as a personal decision. They believe that people must ultimately decide whether or not to accept what God has to say and whether or not to invite Jesus into their hearts.
The Bible doesn’t teach this. Rather, it teaches that we are all by nature spiritually dead. Our human wills, in any spiritual sense, are also dead. What is dead cannot contribute toward becoming spiritually alive. Those who view faith as something brought about by a human decision are placing confidence for salvation in something other than God. Such misplaced confidence opens the door to uncertainty and doubt, leaving them to wonder if they truly believe or if they are sincere. We place our trust in God, who alone has the power to work the miracle of faith through the gospel.
There is no need for anyone to make a profession of faith to any church body or pastor, or make a personal decision to accept or receive Jesus into his heart or follow Him. No; it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
So take comfort dear friends and be confident in the knowledge that Jesus did it all for you. There is nothing you can do on your own to come to Him. It is the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. No one can say, Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
I urge you to pick up your Bible and begin reading. Let the Holy Spirit take it from there. You will be blessed!
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16, 17)
Jesus once told a story about workers in a Vineyard:
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, you also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right. So they went.
He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing? Because no one has hired us, they answered. He said to them, You also go and work in my vineyard.
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.
The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it,
they began to grumble against the landowner. These men who were hired last worked only one hour, they said, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.
But he answered one of them, Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20: 1-16)
The meaning of this parable as printed in my Concordia Self-Study Commentary reads: To work in the vineyard (serve the Lord) is a privilege and the pay is pure grace; to question that grace for others is to lose it for oneself.God’s gift of grace is available to all people through faith in Jesus whose blood shed for us on the cross covers our sins and makes us holy in God’s eyes. It makes no difference whether we were brought to faith as an infant through baptism or during the last hours/moments of our earthly life. The “pay” is the same – eternity with the Lord in heaven.
There is nothing we can do on our own to become right with God and fit for heaven. God demands holiness and we are sinners. But Jesus paid our debt of sin through His perfect life and innocent suffering and death.
I was reminded of how precious this promise of God is several years ago with the loss of a dear friend and family member. Gerry was called to his eternal home on Easter Sunday (4/20/14) at 6:15 A.M. He was not only a brother-in-law, but a good friend of my husband and me and our family for many years. He was funny and loving, and a good father. He was the type of person that people genuinely enjoy spending time with. He made everyone laugh, but beneath that fun-loving and joking exterior, was a man who truly loved his family, and when the situation demanded it, he knew how to be serious and make responsible decisions. He spent many hours with our two sons – teaching them to fish. The boys loved him and learned so much from him.
But there was always one thing about Jerry that tugged at my heart. Although he was born into a strong Catholic family and baptized as an infant, he never truly lived his faith. He grew up going through all the Catholic rituals of First Communion and Catechism, and attended the Catholic school, but outwardly it seemed as if his heart wasn’t in it.
He was introduced to the Lutheran Church by his wife in the early seventies, but still took no interest, at least outwardly it didn’t seem so. His claim was that one did not need to be a member of a church to believe. This fact is true, but there is more to it than that. A faith that is not nourished with God’s Word can become weak and vulnerable. It can get trampled and lost in the daily hustle and bustle of life.
One important thing for us all to remember is that the church is not a building or a specific denomination. The church is made up of people – people who believe in, and profess Jesus as their Savior from sin. Therefore all who believe in Jesus are members of God’s family and are recipients of His never-ending grace. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8). So we are saved by God’s grace (His undeserved love) through faith in Jesus, His one and only Son.
Our faith is the rope which attaches us to Jesus. Time spent hearing and studying God’s Word strengthens that rope. It makes our faith grow and blossom, and will cause it to deepen into a truly meaningful relationship with God. As that faith is strengthened, it will become evident in our life. We won’t be able to hide it, and we won’t want to hide it because we will have a burning desire to hear and learn more about Him. The Holy Spirit strengthens our faith through the Word, so as we hear, read and study the Word, we will see and feel Him working in our lives. Through faith we will become tuned in to God’s presence and more tightly attached to Him.
This attachment is not one which we need to fear, as in an earthly attachment which can be snatched away from us. Jesus promises to always be with us. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). There are times in life when we may lose the grip on our end of the rope of faith and wander away, but Jesus will never let go of His end. He will use life situations both good and bad to draw us back into His fold where we are protected and loved.
God disciplines those He loves and His loving discipline, although unpleasant and painful at times, is for our good. It is for our “Eternal” good and/or for the eternal good of others we come into contact with. His discipline makes us realize that we need Him. Jesus tells us; Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me (Revelation 3: 19, 20).
In the spring of 2013 Jerry was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Brain Cancer. The tumor was surgically removed and he went through the usual Chemo and radiation treatments, but to no avail. The tumor came back and the doctors said there was no more they could do for him.
Jerry heard Jesus knocking on the door of his heart and tugging on his rope of faith through his cancer. The Holy Spirit moved him to open the door and reach out and grab tightly onto that rope which had kept him attached to Jesus all these years. About six weeks before his death he re-affirmed his faith in Jesus and with a repentant heart he asked to be given the Lord’s Supper. We can be confident that he is in heaven receiving the end result of God’s precious gift of grace. We can be sure we will see him there on the day we are called home.
The nagging feeling I always had regarding his eternal good is now gone and I am at peace. The fact that he was called home at 6:15 on Easter morning, the same time of day that Jesus rose from death that first Easter so long ago, is a comfort to me and should be to all who love him. I believe it was Jesus’ way of communicating to us; You don’t need to worry. He is safe here with me. You will see him when you get here.
I am sure Gerry is making people laugh in heaven just like he did while he was with us here, and he has probably already found the perfect fishing spot to take his nephews to when they arrive some day.
Although he spent 72 years here on this earth, the biggest majority of that time was not spent working earnestly in the Lord’s vineyard. He is somewhat like the worker in Jesus’ story who only worked for one hour, or like that thief on the cross beside Jesus who came to faith in his last hours of life. But Gerry, like the thief on the cross and the worker in the vineyard, still received his “denarius”. He is now living in the mansions of heaven and serving the Lord joyfully for eternity. God’s grace is a free gift to all. And all who die believing will receive their pay no matter how long or how diligently they labored.
Thank you Jesus for your wonderful gift of grace!
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42).
Death has been swallowed up in victory! Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 55, 56)
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified . He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you. So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. Greetings, he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.
THE GREAT COMMISSION:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.