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!
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.
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary is my Lord.
He has redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.
All this he did that I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, just as he has risen from death and lives and rules eternally.
This is most certainly true. (Luther’s Catechism pg. 151)
The above words are words I memorized in school and catechism class as a child. They have been drilled into me since my elementary days. But now that I am older they mean so much more to me than they did when I was a child. When I was a child they were part of my schoolwork. Now they are my heart. I am thankful I was taught to memorize them because the words are still vividly clear in my memory. I can recite them to myself when I feel sad or lost or discouraged and when I need to be reminded exactly who I am. I truly love the Lord and I do not make that confession lightly.
Although I have always known it, in recent months I have been reminded that not everyone I meet feels the same joy that I do through faith in Christ. Scripture’s definition of faith is as follows; Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Through faith in Jesus I have a sure hope that I will live with him in heaven someday. Although I cannot see him physically I know and believe that his promises never fail. My faith creates in me a desire to love and serve God. That love is reflected in my actions toward others. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen, (1 John: 19, 20).
Several times in recent months I have heard the statement; I believe in God, but I don’t go to church and don’t feel it is necessary. I can believe in God without it. It saddens me to hear these words. How do I respond to someone who feels this way? What do I say to them? If they truly have faith they are missing out on many spiritual blessings by not attending worship and spending time in God’s house. In God’s house during worship and Bible Study he speaks to us through his word. It is refreshing for the soul. I leave God’s house on Sunday feeling joyful and eager to light up the world around me with the love of Jesus.
It is difficult to know how to respond to people with this attitude because as Christians we need to be patient and understanding toward those whose hearts are not in the same place as ours. We don’t want to discourage them further. Yet we know that if they truly believe, or maybe a better way to say it would be if they truly have faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ they would want to hear his word taught. They would have a burning desire to learn more. They would want to be a part of praising and worshiping him in prayer and song, and they would enjoy the fellowship of worshiping with other believers.
I guess it is possible to have faith without feeling a need to attend church on Sunday. Only God can judge hearts. But true faith prompts in me a desire to know more about God and His word. It makes me want to listen to his word. My heart yearns for more knowledge – to be able to better understand the teachings in the Bible. I want to know God’s will for my life. I need to be reminded of the comfort God’s word offers me for eternity and be reassured by his promises. I need the fellowship of other Christians who believe the same as I do. We are encouraged by the writer to the Hebrews; Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
For these reasons I would tend to believe that the person who makes this type of statement is really saying:
I can do it without God’s help. This is an attitude of Satan and you can bet he is smiling when he hears it.
Back off and don’t preach to me. This could be a cover up for feelings of guilt. We are all born with a natural knowledge of God. They know there is a God, but they have no desire to look into it further. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1: 20).
I don’t have time for God.People are busy with life and don’t want to make time for God. They feel that as long as they admit/believe there is a God they’re good to go.
Whatever their reasons, what should our response to this statement be? Over all I feel it is a cop out. It is just an excuse for not caring enough to make time for God – a matter of being too wrapped up in this earthly life – the here and now. It may also be a matter of pride. In most cases it represents a weak faith at best.
One thing I have done in response to this is to extend an invitation to come with me to church. The young lady I extended the invite to has not yet taken me up on my offer, but it is still open to her. She has my phone number and she knows where I live.
In another case the young woman I was speaking with revealed that she had been disappointed in the churches she has attended in the past because the actions she had seen in the lives of the pastors and the members didn’t represent love for God and obedience to his commandments. Her heart was open to learning more and it was a great witnessing opportunity. I answered some questions for her and gave her a Bible. She truly wanted to learn more, but had given up on finding a church that teaches the truth.
If witnessing opportunities intimidate you, take comfort in the words of Jesus;do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At the time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10: 19, 20).
Above all we should pray for people who have this attitude. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts and open their eyes and minds to the fact that we all need God. We are unable
to come to faith without his help. Consequently faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Faith comes to us from hearing the word and from reading and studying it. God also grants faith and forgiveness through Baptism.
A living and active faith will result in a love for God which stimulates a desire in us to hear and study his word every chance we get. We will want to attend church. We will want to worship and praise him. His love will prompt us to serve him and our fellow man. Jesus’ instructs each believer to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds [your faith] and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5: 13, 14, 16).
If we never pick up our Bible and never attend church to hear the word we will not come to faith. If we have faith and neglect his word, we risk losing it. Even our Baptism will not help us if we don’t feed and water our faith with the word of God. Faith is like a beautiful green plant. If it is fed and watered it will sprout and grow. When we ignore our faith and don’t feed it and water it with the word it will shrivel up and die.
God’s word is living also. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
So how is your faith doing? Is it living and active, or is it stagnant and stale? Do you have faith at all? But someone will say, You have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do (James 2: 18). Do you merely believe there is a God? You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder (James 2: 19).
I would urge all people to find a place of worship where God’s word is taught in truth and purity. It may take time and patience, but don’t give up. Find a place to nurture your faith with the food and water of the word. Your life for eternity depends on it. Jesus was punished in your place on the cross so that you could have life. Don’t disregard his sacrifice. In the end you will be truly blessed here in this life and hereafter in the life to come. His gift of grace is there for all people. Don’t leave your gift from God sitting on the desk unopened. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10: 10).