Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
The human ego is an amazing thing. Somehow we believe that we are the best. Such being the case, we often, and quite mistakenly, believe that we are the right person for a given situation. To this end, we want to be the one who loads that “impossible” load and has it perfectly to weight. If not, then we want to be the guy who makes the miracle catch at the two yard line, and then runs the ball to the other end of the field for the touchdown and two point conversion.
Even our language works this way. We say things like “I’ve got this”, or “Let me handle this”. Simple truth, we all have an ego. Additionally, we all want to seem important or otherwise perhaps be in charge. This includes how some leads and supervisors try to make themselves look better than others. Truthfully, it does not work like that.
Many of us may yet remember when the movie “The Matrix” came out. I am not looking to discuss the philosophy of reality at the moment. Rather, there is a scene that comes up quite early in the movie. This scene really sets the stage for the rest of the movie. When Neo first meets Morpheus, he is asked a very simple question. However, this question has some interesting ramifications. Here is that scene:
Neo makes an interesting statement. He states that he doesn’t like the idea of not being in control of his life. Truth is, none of us do. However, there is a problem. None of us really has any control, regardless of what you say about “freewill”. Ironically, we will all do any and everything we can to exert some form of “freewill” upon the environment around us. This is even true in many modern churches.
I know that sounds a bit strange, but I can assure you it is true. Let me back up a bit. I have not been a member of the Lutheran church, LCMS or otherwise, all of my life. I actually come from a Roman Catholic background and spent about five years in the Baptist/non-denominational churches. During that time I heard and saw a few things that I no longer believe.
The one thing that I find the least believable is “making a decision for Christ”. Yep. There are churches that teach we can “make a decision” when it comes to salvation. However, is there any Biblical evidence of this doctrine? Nope.
Don’t tell me that just did a brake check. Seriously. You need to stop driving while reading this.
Many Baptist type churches (including non-denominational and Pentecostal), tend to believe there is evidence of this. The first proof text they use is Joshua 24:15. This verse, in part, reads “choose this day whom you will serve”. Oddly, yes, Joshua is telling the people to choose whom they will serve, but consider whom it is that Joshua is speaking to. These are not gentiles or some other such group who has not heard of or witnessed the power of God. No. These are the very people whom God led into the promised land and witnessed the power of God firsthand. Joshua’s parting words were meant to encourage them to stay true to God, and not to turn to the false gods and idols of the various nations around them.
However, that is not the only verse used. Another popular verse is Revelation 3:20. This verse, also in part, reads “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”. Ironically, this verse is part of an indictment against the church of Laodicea. It would seem that Laodicea had some issues with faithfulness and this really is a call to repentance, and thus has nothing to do with salvation.
So, does that mean that saying “I chose Christ” or “I made a decision for Christ” is wrong? Truthfully, yes. Some time ago I wrote about the idea of magic in the church. In a post called “Zap”, I talked about the so-called “Sinner’s Prayer”, which is commonly found in those tracts published by Jack Chick, which I have also discussed. Sadly, nothing in the Bible suggests that we have any choice in salvation.
What the Bible does say is rather discouraging, at least if you want some form of say in your salvation. In John 14:6 we read “No one comes to the Father except through me”. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his coming death, and letting them know that he will not forsake them. It is in this chapter that the promise of the Holy Spirit is given as well.
In fact, if we go back to the tenth chapter of John, we find an interesting statement by Jesus. When talking about “his sheep”, Jesus is recorded as saying “My Father, who has given them to me”. Wait! What? That is in Bible? Yes, it is the first part of verse 29. Simple truth, these verses only scratch the surface. The fact is, and this is found in Psalm 51, we are all born in sin. Psalm 51:5 reads “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” The simple truth is that sin is with and in us from our youth. King David acknowledges this. Sadly, many skip this verse and go right to 51:10 where it reads “create in me a clean heart”. Note, this psalm is all about repentance.
Yes, we all want some form of control over our lives. Yet, salvation is not ours to control or decide. God alone, has chosen who saves us. Our savior, who died upon the cross for our sins, is Christ Jesus. Jesus is the one who decided that we are saved through baptism (1 Peter 3:21) and that our sins are forgiven through the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:28). While it is certainly true that we can reject salvations, as can be evidenced by those who exist that reject the Bible and the message contained therein, we can not choose to be saved. God chose to save us.
This means that we can make all the “I” and “me” statements we want. However, not a single one of them mean a thing when it comes to salvation. Yes, you might be the one who is in charge of given workgroup, but it’s not about you. Yes, you might be the guy who made the incredible catch on the two yard line and then ran the ball all the way back for a touchdown, but it still isn’t about you. In the end, in the final analysis, it is still about God and what he did. Nothing more.
Here is Pastor Fisk of Worldview Everlasting discussing baptism. I figure since I touched on it, it would be a good idea to get the perspective of a pastor.