“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,”
Today I am responding to a prayer request I received through my post February 12th. This person asked that I pray for his teen-aged daughter who has supposedly walked away from her faith. From a once seemingly vibrant faith to now denying any belief, her parents are heartbroken and pray daily for another miracle.
I understand this situation all too well. I’m sure most of you do, too. How do we deal with it? How do we rejoice in all things like these (Phil. 4:4)? Seriously, folks, this is no small matter and one we need to come to grips with. I think it’s Alistair Begg who says something along the lines of “You can’t truly live until you’ve settled the matter of death.” Easier said than done when it comes to our children, especially those who seem to walk away from their faith.
In my opinion, this brings us straight into the question of who saves whom. On one hand, you have folks who say that each individual decides whether or not to place their faith in Jesus based upon the evidence at hand. It is a decision that they make, one that God and all the angels in heaven rejoice should it happen they choose Jesus. On the other hand, you have those who say that God, alone, settled this matter before the world was even formed and our proclamation and testing of our faith is simply a response to the gift God has given to those whom he chooses to have mercy.
This is no small disagreement. Both sides will present their case biblically. I might say that I find no proof that getting this doctrine right will change anyone’s salvation or damnation, but it does make a huge difference in our spiritual outlook on life. Look, who isn’t heartbroken by the idea that your child might not receive eternal life? Worse yet, that there may have been something that you could have done to prevent them from walking straight into the lake of fire.
Or, is salvation God’s business, and his alone?
If salvation is based upon our choice, then it’s simply a matter of presenting the evidence in a manner that each individual can understand, right? We are all made in the image of God, and God is logical and rational. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. You and I know full well from experience it doesn’t work that way. We also have the biblical testament that reason and evidence is rejected alike by fools and intellectuals, the poor and wealthy, and meek and powerful. And then, suddenly, you have a person whose light switch suddenly flips, and they say how they were once blind but now they see.
But, if it IS up to rationality and evidence, doesn’t that present a tremendous burden on each of us to convince others? Think about this, folks. At what point would you stop trying to convince your child? To what lengths would you go to make them understand? Maybe the question should be to what lengths WOULDN’T you go. The fact that we give up would make us culpable in their eternal damnation, would it not? What are you going to tell Jesus about that on Judgment Day?
Quite frankly, that’s simply too much for humans to bear, and it’s not a burden that God intended for us. Yes, we are to make disciples, but salvation is God’s business – and his alone. You may get the privilege to witness a conversion, but you aren’t the one who made it happen. God did. However, we can see men rejecting this idea and instead developing solutions like infant baptism to ease their consciences. Or, they don’t allow themselves to be bothered by any of it.
Outside of a biblical presentation, I will share one last thing. We all pray for the salvation of loved ones. But, have you really paid attention to what you are praying for? A miracle. Plain and simple. You’re praying for a miracle. When you do that, you bypass all the logic business and realize that you can’t convince anyone. No, if you pray for a miracle, you are admitting that it is God alone who is capable of changing a hard heart and thick skull.
Folks, it is my belief that the bible fully supports this point of view. Now, it ALSO holds each of us responsible for our choice, but we find that our choice is ALWAYS against the true God in favor of a god or gods made in our own image. We are very religious, yes, but not for truth. And the truth is that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and NO ONE seeks for God (Romans 3:11). And to that end, we are all without excuse (Romans 1:20). Even our good deeds are like filthy rags in the eyes of the Lord (Isaiah 64:6).
But…God does have mercy on whom he chooses (Romans 9:15-16), and our faith is his free gift to those whom he forgives (Ephesians 2:8). Why? So that no man may boast (Ephesians 2:9, Romans 11:32, Deuteronomy 9:4-8). Think about it. If you were to choose Jesus, wouldn’t that prove that you inherently had righteousness in you? If you already have righteousness, what was the point of Jesus’ death on the cross? No, my friend, you truly were doomed apart from the undeserved, unmerited mercy of God.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’ve heard all this stuff from me before. Why am I hammering on it again? Because I need to make sense of all of this so that I might be able to praise and worship my God while at the funeral of an unrepentant loved one knowing that justice is being served. Oh, what a tragedy it is for someone to die in unbelief! But God is good in that justice is served. If I believe, wrongly, that I could have saved that soul, how could I live with myself? Or, worse yet, I might blame God.
I don’t want to go there, so I MUST make sense of all this; and to do that, I must start with and come to peace with the idea that God is the author of our salvation.
“Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside of his control”
There is much more to say on this topic so that we might answer my friends concerns. Stay tuned.
Father, open our eyes, minds, and hearts to the plain truth of the bible. We desire to have peace and rejoice in all things. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers