This was in response (polished up a bit) to something one of my new blogger friends, Liz said. And since all of our paths don’t cross, I’m posting it here as well.
“One of the hardest things for evangelicals who convert to Lutheran theology, or at least for me, is getting away from “decision” mentality.”
Hi Liz ~ I understand where you’re coming from. When you’ve spent so much of your life under the bondage of your own will it is hard to grasp the concept that we cannot make a decision ‘for’ or ‘to follow’ Christ.Let me explain .
Decision theology is rooted in the idea that a man’s ‘free will’ determines where he will spend eternity; that if a man is to receive God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, he must exercise his ‘free will’ in the way that would please God by ‘deciding’ to become a Christian. There are so many errors with this theology.
First, I will say that if a man is able to bring himself into God’s salvation through ‘accepting’ or ‘deciding’ to ‘follow’ Jesus ~ that man is making himself greater than God. Here is why: When Adam & Eve sinned in the garden, that was the beginning of Original Sin, the sin that we are born with since the fall of man. Because of original sin, man is corrupt to the soul. Everything about man is corrupted from the moment he is conceived. We are not only sinners, we are sin in the flesh – to the core. Thus, everything about mankind is contrary (against) what God wills for us. Therefore, our ‘free’ will is contrary to God.
Our free will is so contrary to God that we are **UNABLE** to exercise our will to do anything good, including being ’saved’. We have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation. It is soley and 100% God’s work, none of ours. It is through hearing of the Word (Romans 10:17) that the Holy Spirit begins working faith in our hearts. SO ~ BY THE TIME A PERSON IS ABLE TO MAKE A “decision” FOR CHRIST ~ The Holy Spirit has ALREADY worked faith in his heart. It is not a work of man, but of the Holy Spirit on hearing the Word. Jesus established Baptism for us. At Baptism, a child receives the Holy Spirit, who in turn works faith in that Child’s heart. In the adult convert, faith is often worked in their heart before they are Baptized.
Because our will is so corrupted by original sin, we could not come to Christ if we WANTED to ~ that’s how sinful we are. The bottom line is that if a person believes that they can bring themself into God’s salvation by the exercising of their own free will, they do not believe in original sin. This is what decision theology is rooted in.
I’ll give you several scripture passages that explains how it is God who does everything in our salvation, and that we are not saved by the exercising of our own [corrupted] free will.
GOD alone is responsible for the right exercising of our will in any matter, especially in our salvation:”For it is GOD who works in you, BOTH to WILL and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (ESV)
It is GOD alone who works belief in Christ in our hearts:”Jesus answered them, ‘this is the work of God, that you believe in him who has sent me.” John 6:29 (ESV)
We cannot come to Christ without the Holy Spirit. God alone draws us to him: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me DRAWS HIM.” John 6:44 (ESV)
We are not ABLE to say that Jesus is our Lord, we are too corrupted by original sin: “Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and NO ONE CAN SAY THAT JESUS IS LORD EXCEPT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.” I Corinthians 12:3 (NKJV)
Can you imagine a dead person raising himself from the dead? That is impossible! Isn’t it…. Lazurus could not raise himself from the dead ~ it was Jesus who raised Lasurus from the dead. In the same way God works faith in our hearts raising us from spiritual death to salvation in Jesus Christ: “You were DEAD in the tresspasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by NATURE children of WRATH, like the rest of mankind. BUT GOD, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN OUR TRESPASSES, MADE US ALIVE together with Christ – by GRACE you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)
Grace is not something WE decide to receive, GRACE is not something WE DO – if it were, it would not be grace. If we have to decide to recieve God’s grace then it becomes a WORK that we must do: “For by GRACE you have been saved THROUGH FAITH. AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING: it is the GIFT OF GOD, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
GOD CHOSE US, we did not choose him: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…” John 15:16 (NKJV)
Finally, we cannot exert our own will to attain salvation through Christ: “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ So then it depends NOT ON HUMAN WILL or exertion, but on GOD, who has mercy.” Romans 9:15-16
When Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove. IN THE SAME WAY ~ the Holy Spirit comes to US in baptism. Jesus ordained Baptism FOR US. BAPTISM is God’s way of distributing the salvation that Christ won for us on the Cross [as is communion].
Baptism is not merely an “appropriate initiation” into Christianity. By virtue of what Jesus established for us in his OWN Baptism, it is a means by which we receive the Holy Spirit. Yes ~ it is just the beginning!
I hope this helped you somewhat. As a former Baptist, I too struggled with letting go of the notion that I can bring myself into God’s salvation by the exercising of my own “free” [CORRUPTED BY SIN TO THE CORE] will. Remember ~ our will is CONTRARY to God and it is CONTRARY to everything good therefore our will is not CAPABLE of choosing Christ ~ it is the Holy Spirit who first works faith in our hearts ~ before we are able to confess it with our mouths. If we must “choose” Christ ~ then that choosing is a work toward righteousness. And we are not capable of desiring anything righteous unless the Holy Spirit has FIRST worked it in our hearts.
When someone asks you when you were saved you can always say, “two thousand years ago when Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins.” That always blows their minds.The Protestant Evangelical’s “testimony” is only an account of how they believe they have used their own corrupted free will to choose Christ. The drama that often comes in sharing of testimonies is only an account of the sins that person has committed, the same sins that all of us are capable of committing. He has received no more or no less forgiveness for the depth of his sin than you and I have. So why is an account of all that sin even necessary. Testimonials are all about the person who is “testifying”. Think on that… What do you hear in a testimony? An awful lot of “I, ME, MY, MINE” and very little of Christ until the very end when they take credit for GODS work.