I pray that it is my humble and heartfelt intent to write concerning an earnest directive which believers have been given, and that is, to truthfully pass on to those who do not know the Lord, the liberating and glorious facts concerning the means of salvation which the Gospel proclaims. When we consider all which constitutes the doctrine of salvation in the Gospel, it is impossible to disentangle it from the truth about God, the truth about men, the truth about sin, and the truth about Christ.
So often today the word “salvation” is used in very loose terms, ascribing to it many man-centered, phony ideas and fanciful doctrines which sound reasonable and very appealing to man’s conscience and which man readily accepts. Many of these are simply intended to soothe man’s guilty conscience, and leave him with a false comfort that man himself remains the ‘captain of his soul’ and in control of his eternal destiny. However, biblical truth about salvation is that man is not in any position to determine or secure his own salvation, by means of a decision or by applying his will or effort.
One is not likely to hear from the mouths of most preachers, that man is hopelessly unable to choose to follow God, or to decide to allow God into his life. Contrary to what many billboards around our country proclaim, man cannot, and indeed will never want to, turn back to God, unless he has been called to do so by God. Fallen man will not find any reason within himself to want to truly follow God, unless he understands why he would need to, and for spiritually dead man to understand why he would need to, he requires the enlightenment which only the Holy Spirit can bring to his heart. But, that is not what the unbelieving masses want to hear, man’s willful pride simply will not allow him to be convinced of the truth about salvation, and will-worshipping, synergistic and Arminian preachers capitalize on this spiritual deception. This deception is not new to the world, as this synergistic falsehood, ala the Roman Catholic way of salvation, has been with the church since the earliest centuries.
Today, there are as many different varieties of worldly people who call themselves Christians, as there are churches which proclaim hybrid forms of what they call, the Gospel. One hears salvation being described in an almost limitless number of shapes and colours, each one requiring varying degrees of man’s involvement. Innovative and imaginative methods of describing salvation are enthusiastically encouraged and preached from many pulpits, and by many groups of professing Christians. Additionally, entwined within these prescribed methods (misleading doctrines), is the expectation that one is to be tolerant of, and sensitive toward, the different systems of belief and doctrines of other “Christians”. Nowhere does the Bible make provision for religious tolerance, or for variations of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If one is perceived to be intolerant of another persons’ or groups’ understanding of the means to salvation, irrespective of whether that understanding is even remotely biblical, one is very quickly branded as divisive, judgmental or unloving. If you are a Christian saved by grace alone through faith in Christ, and you have upheld that truth as being the only hope of salvation, how often have you been warned by religious idiots not to “touch God’s anointed” or to “resist God’s work”. If man could actually do that and influence God’s will, then God would not be God; however, man’s pride is a potent adversary to the truth, which blinds men most effectively.
It is often stated in error by those who preach a hybrid form of the Gospel, that truth can, or should, be relative to the understanding of the individual. It is stated as a fact that God allows for a special truth or particular revelation for every different person, and we are being encouraged to gladly accept differing opinions of people concerning God, Jesus Christ, truth and salvation. This damning heresy is known as the post-modern way of thinking, and it provides its proponents with a fake comfort. In this regard, I am referring specifically to essential doctrines of salvation, as opposed to non-essential doctrines. A gospel of tolerance toward individualism, secularism and in support of human rights, is preferred to the biblical Gospel of Truth, because the biblical Gospel is largely exclusive and is therefore regarded as socially unacceptable and “politically incorrect” by post-modern thinkers. Humanism has been carefully and effectively promoted since times gone by the Roman Catholic church and has been carried forward into much of modern Protestantism by the liberal will-worshipping church.
As I have said before, and must continue to say, that truth can only be truth if it is absolute and singular, because if it is not, by definition it cannot be truth. Truth cannot be self-contradicting and still be truth. According to 1 Corinthians 2: 10-13, the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (verse 11), which He reveals (verse 10) and teaches (verse 13) to those whom He indwells. Those are whom He indwells according to His divine will. It therefore stands to reason that Christians cannot “agree to disagree” on the truth about salvation. However, it is a matter of fact that, as soon as the believer dogmatically advocates the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, the world and the seekers in the world who cling to their self-worth, pride, personal value, indispensable free will and Pharisaical legalism, declare a self-righteous (un)holy war against God’s people.
As soon as allowance is made for the probability of different truths for different people, by necessity it is required that there be a different Jesus, different Saviours for the different people as well. Jesus Christ says in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Jesus speaks of a singular truth (I am the One Truth), and a singular way (I am the One Way) to heaven.
Salvation from sin is not by deeds of the law, and even those who know this to be a singular biblical truth, need to repeatedly and continuously remind themselves that salvation is not by works of the flesh, in any way at all.
Salvation is not because of, or by way of reformation. Salvation does not come to us because of our decision, repentance, sinless condition or good intentions. Salvation does not come to us through church ordinances, we are not saved by church membership. Salvation is only in Christ the Lord.
Salvation is not to be found anywhere near man’s plans or within man’s purpose, it is found only in the One Perfect Person. Salvation is not in a proposition, it cannot be found at the bottom of a long walk down a church aisle, it cannot be found in confession, it cannot be bought, it cannot be earned, it is not available from a mercy seat, it does not come by way of the prayers of the unbeliever. Salvation is not in being slain in the spirit. Salvation is not imparted by the laying on of hands. Salvation is not found in baptism. Salvation is only in Christ, in His finished work. Salvation is freely granted to those whom God draws to it.
A man does not have salvation until he is drawn to it by God and comes to a living, personal, real, intimate union with Christ our Lord. A man cannot come to this union with Christ by his own decision or deeds, but only by the power of God’s Spirit through faith. A man is not a Christian until he is unified with Christ. A man is not a Christian until he is personally and inseparably joined to Jesus Christ. A man is not a Christian until Christ becomes his life, which happens because of a miracle performed by the Sovereign God. A man is only a Christian if one can find love for Christ in his heart, if one can find the thoughts of Christ in his mind, and if one can find a painful longing for Christ in his soul. The righteousness of Christ placed in a man, by the power of God’s Spirit, according to a decision made by God alone, that is salvation and the hope of glory.
The Holy Spirit convicts a man of sin; the Holy Spirit first empties, then refills and changes the heart of a sinner with truth; the Holy Spirit brings a man to faith in the Son of God. If any man is in Christ and Christ is in any man, that man is a new creature. (2 Cor 5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
So much of today’s false gospel message which is reliant on man’s own will, says that a man’s Christianity can be taken off with his Sunday clothes, but a man who is genuinely saved has Christ living in him as an everlasting fountain springing up into everlasting life. A man who has salvation has been born again. He has been raised up to life out of the spiritual grave. A man who truly has salvation has the very image of the Son of God indelibly tattooed on his heart and that image cannot be removed or improved upon by man’s deeds or efforts.
Sadly, there are not many who preach the truth about salvation, because there are not many who preach the Gospel and the truth about God, sin and Jesus Christ. The truth about God and the true Gospel are not popular with the unsaved world. Biblical truth is in fact highly offensive to the unbeliever, and it will remain so unless God gives to the unbeliever the ability to accept and pursue the truth. Unsaved, natural men do not, and cannot, accept the truth. The natural person cannot and does not seek God (Romans 3:10-12) as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; (11) no one understands; no one seeks for God. (12) All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
Many churches which are overflowing today with huge and growing congregations are filled with people who have not been told the truth about God, His Son, sin and salvation. Where the tradition of a church or man, and the teaching of the Bible are in conflict, tradition is given precedence. This effectively negates the authority of the Word and grants supremacy to the church leadership.
Those churches are overflowing because they are upholding a popular gospel of will-worship and secular humanism, which says that those who think that they want to be saved, simply need to make a decision to choose God. Thereafter they are told to try to live a lawfully good life by trying to be a good person and to stop sinning, which will encourage God to forgive them and accommodate their wishes. Those churches are overflowing because they uphold a god who need not be feared and a god who does not regard sin as severe enough to punish sinners eternally. Those churches are overflowing because they offer to the seekers, a weak, man-centered god, who does not have sufficient wrath, will or power to kill, and who is simply waiting for his human creations to make a decision to join him in his half-empty paradise.
Everybody has a god of some sort, even the atheist does. He may dispute that fact with an impressive intellectual argument, but he cannot deny the fact that he worships his free will and the Satanically construed god of lies. He calls the truth a lie, and believes a lie as being the truth. The atheist holds to his beliefs, and he jealously and conscientiously protects those beliefs, they are his gods.
Some, but not all, who are rich in worldly possessions, fame, talents or cares, more elaborately might even have many gods. Of course, there are also many rich, talented and famous saved Christians. Every religion in the world, ancient or new, offers to their followers an endless variety of feeble gods, all of whom require of man to play some part in proving themselves worthy of salvation and eternal life. Every religion in the world requires of man to help to save himself by means of his decisions, his deeds, his values, his sacrifices or his changes in attitude. Religions are all man centered falsehoods, religions are all antichrist. True Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the only exception. Christ alone is the only exception.
Salvation and eternal life are only available through knowing the living God. We cannot know someone by saying that we have heard of that person, or by reading a book or Facebook message which that person wrote, as that only enables us to say that we know of that person. We actually have to meet and have a personal relationship with another person to be able to say that we know them. We cannot get to know an Almighty Creator God by our own means. (Rom 9:21) Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? God makes the knowing relationship real for those whom He created for honourable use, and Jesus Christ in us enables that relationship. Those whom God made for dishonourable use cannot know God, for how could they? They would have to supplant God’s will with one of their own, they would have to find another way to God, other than Jesus Christ.
To tell the truth about salvation is to tell the truth about man. We are not going to like what we hear about ourselves. To tell the truth about salvation is to tell the truth about Christ. We are not going to accept what we hear about Christ unless God enables us to. According to human reason, free salvation is simply illogical, surely there must be some catch to the story? Additionally, it is fallen man’s nature to want to retain control and responsibility for his eternal position, almost like he needs to control where and when he will spend his retirement years, because up to this point, man would have been able to control most other aspects of his life. The difference is that, eternal salvation is a state which is beyond the boundaries of this life and far beyond the control of sinful man. Those opposed to God’s Word will dispute these facts.
If we come to an understanding of just how dead we are in sin and how entirely offensive sin is before a Perfectly Holy God, we will understand how hopeless our own situation is. Just maybe then, we will also begin to understand how precious and perfect the sacrifice made by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is. Just maybe then, we will begin to understand how much we need Him and how little we need of ourselves.
Tell the truth about salvation. Give to God the glory for our justification, sanctification and ultimate glorification, or do you think that assuming responsibility and taking credit for that will add to its efficacy? What could it possibly cost to consult Scripture, rather than to propagate some concocted myth about dead men making a decision on behalf of God, or for God, to bring themselves back to eternal life? Consider the consequences of believing a lie about salvation, or relying on your own sinful and filthy self, and hopeless decision-making skills, to determine where you will spend eternity after your physical death. Consider the consequences it could have for others you care about.
Give to God the praise, glory and adoration for doing everything perfectly on our behalf, for making the Perfect and greatest sacrifice on our behalf in order that we can be saved from eternal destruction. By simply placing our trust in His Son, and believing that He has already suffered the punishment, in full, for all sins that we will commit; if we have been granted that faith in Him, He is faithful to never let us fall from His loving grip. The truth is simple, don’t try to make it seem complicated and impressive by muddying and obscuring it by suggesting that man-centered efforts are necessary for our salvation.
For our own sake, or at least for the sake of others, let us put away our undeserved self-confidence and over-inflated pride which sets us up against God, and accept the wonderful fact that we cannot and indeed, need not, try to put finishing touches to the perfect redeeming work of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We should not try to play down the greatest miracle of all, which is salvation granted freely by the grace of God to us filthy sinners, by adding our interpretation of what we need to do to avail ourselves of His salvation, by suggesting a set of guidelines of “how to” set the wheels of salvation into motion. (Romans 10:17) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Philippians 3:9) and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–
Don’t fall into the evil trap of telling others to try to do something to impress or to influence God, for Him to take notice of their deeds. God knows the thoughts and deeds of every person since before time itself. God knows intimately, every hair on our heads, every thought we have had, and every thought we will have in the future. Even though all of those thoughts are drenched in iniquity, He is faithful to forgive all sinners whom He calls to faith in His Son, for all every evil thought.
If you proclaim an Arminian type of will worship as the truth about salvation, you are proclaiming a lie and you do not know the truth. If you tell someone to make a decision to follow Christ, and to make Christ the Lord and saviour of his life, when God has not called or enabled that person to follow His Son, you are not telling that person the truth, you are expecting that person to do what only God can do, and to act on behalf of God. That person will follow a false saviour, a god which he imagines to be real, but he will lose his way, because he will not be able to hear the voice of the true Shepherd.
(John 10:25-27) Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
That person will be unable to follow your advice, and Satan will be most willing to provide the seeker with a believable alternative and false experience of salvation. Consider the consequences for others who might be taken with a lie about salvation, while all the time you had the Word of God at your fingertips.
Tell the truth about salvation because … whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Mat 18:6)
Tell the truth about salvation, if you are in Christ. Assure all those who have a yearning to know the Saviour and to follow the Word, that their yearning is a call from God. Tell them the truth about the Gospel, because they need to hear the truth in order to understand and grow in the faith they have received. All those who have been called and have faith in Him, will remain in Christ. Not one will be lost. They will never be separated from the Truth or from God’s people.
They will know that it was you who told them the truth about salvation.
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All I have to say in response to this article are 2 little words: “thank you!”
Isn’t it odd that if the Baptists and evangelicals are correct that their “born again experience” is the true and ONLY means of salvation, the term “born again” is only mentioned three times in the King James Bible? If “making a decision for Christ” is the only means of salvation, why doesn’t God mention it more often in his Word? Why only THREE times? Isn’t that REALLY, REALLY odd?
Why is it that the Apostle Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, NEVER uses this term? Why is this term never used in the Book of Acts to describe the many mentioned Christian conversions? Why is this term only used by Jesus in a late night conversation with Nicodemus, and by Peter once in just one letter to Christians in Asia Minor?
If you attend a Baptist/evangelical worship service what will you hear? You will hear this: “You must be born again: you must make a decision for Christ. You must ask Jesus into your heart. You must pray to God and ask him to forgive you of your sins, come into your heart, and be your Lord and Savior (the Sinner’s Prayer). You must be an older child or adult who has the mental capacity to make a decision to believe, to make a decision to repent, and to make a decision to ask Jesus into your heart.”
Why do Baptists and evangelicals use this non-biblical terminology when they talk about salvation? Other than “you must be born again”, none of this terminology is anywhere to be found in the Bible!
Is it therefore possible that…making a “decision” for Christ is NOT how sinners are saved? Is it possible that “accepting Christ into your heart” is NOT what being “born again” really means?
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
Thank you for commenting.
It seems that, generally speaking and in principle, we are in agreement regarding this matter.
Just a few points I would like to make.
1) I do not find it at all strange that “born again” is mentioned only three times. Even if it was only mentioned once, it would be sufficient to constitute the truth, as all of Scripture is a singular truth. There are not certain parts which we can choose to disregard or add more importance to than others.
2) We certainly cannot “make a decision” for Christ. That is one of the greatest errors taught by “modern”, synergistic and works-based false teachers, and lost churches.
3) The doctrinal positions of Baptist churches range across almost the entire spectrum, from synergistic, charismatic and Arminian through to conservative, monergistic and Calvinistic. It is impossible to lump all Baptist churches into one group. Those who hold to the 1644, 1646 and 1689 confessions (and subsequent revisions), would certainly agree that no decision can be made by man “for” Christ, and that salvation is by Grace alone. Those Baptist churches which say that you should “make a decision for Christ”, or “ask Jesus into your heart”, or to pray the sinner’s prayer, should certainly consider changing their name from that of Baptist.
4) The fact that Jesus used the term at least once, means as much as if Paul had used it thirty times, wouldn’t you agree?
5) You ask: “Why do Baptists and evangelicals use this non-biblical terminology when they talk about salvation?“ As I have said, true Baptist churches find that terminology offensive to the Word. Others have adopted it from Roman Catholicism and, to an even larger degree from the hideous will-worshipping theology of Arminius. If people are led to believe that they, or the church, are in control of their eternal position, then they can be controlled and influenced.
6) You asked: “Is it therefore possible that…making a “decision” for Christ is NOT how sinners are saved? Is it possible that “accepting Christ into your heart” is NOT what being “born again” really means?” It is not only a mere possibility that making a decision for Christ is NOT how sinners are saved, it is a Biblical absolute that they CANNOT. Accepting Christ into your heart is equally impossible, but millions would argue against that Biblical fact as well. It is simply too much for pride-filled “seekers” and professing Christians to accept the fact that they are in no way responsible for their own salvation.
Excellent response to my comments!
Lutherans DO believe that a person can make a Decision for Christ
Lutherans believe that one CAN make a decision for Christ…but it is AFTER God has saved him!
We believe that God gives the free gift of salvation without any assistance or even any cooperation of the sinner. In this way salvation really and truly is FREE! God lays the gift of faith and salvation into your “lap” and you believe and repent. We do not believe that there is any decision making in any of these actions. We view the believing and repenting as reflexive REACTIONS. When a doctor strikes your knee with a reflex hammer, your conscious brain is not required to make a decision for your knee to reflexively jerk forward.
Now that the new Christian has the free gift of salvation, he does have a free will in spiritual matters, where before salvation he did not. The believer can choose to reject Christ, turn from him, and live a life of willful ongoing sin two seconds after his salvation or forty years later…and when he dies he will most likely wake up in hell.
Lutherans do NOT believe in eternal security. Our salvation in not dependent on how many good deeds we do, but a willful rejection of Christ (eg. converting to Islam or becoming an agnostic or atheist) or choosing to live in ongoing, willful sin, can cause the Holy Spirit to leave a believer as happened with King Saul in the OT. If the Holy Spirit leaves the one time believer, he is no longer saved, if he dies without repenting and returning to Christ, he will go to hell.
Human beings DO have the opportunity to make a decision for or against Christ AFTER they are saved…they do NOT have the ability to make a decision FOR Christ before they are saved.
So Lutherans and Baptists/evangelicals actually end up at the same place: a person CAN make a decision for Christ, we just disagree when the decision can occur. It is this point of disagreement that precludes Baptists and many evangelicals from accepting infant baptism. You require a decision before salvation. You are absolutely correct, infants cannot make decisions…but infants can REFLEXIVELY believe and repent, in the same manner an adult reflexively believes and repents, at the moment that God quickens his spiritually dead soul. This quickening and reflexive believing and repenting will ONLY happen to the Elect. This is why Lutherans do not run everyone in the neighborhood through the baptismal waters.
Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
Thank you again for commenting.
Of course, I could not agree with you that the security of the believer is dependent on the level of holiness which is achieved or maintained by the saved believer. That is simply not Christianity. If it was, heaven would be empty, God would not be Sovereign and the atonement of Jesus Christ would be incomplete and ineffectual.
I will respond to one of your points:
1. If the Holy Spirit could leave the “one time believer”, then by inference, that person could not have been elect of God. Either that, or God must have made an imperfect choice by electing one whom He knew He would lose, as God is omniscient. That makes salvation directly and inseparably dependent on the ability and performance of man and nullifies the efficacy of the Blood of Christ. It places the salvation of man back under the Law.
2. If the “one time believer” dies without repenting and returning to Christ and ends up in hell, that makes his re-election dependent on his decision BEFORE God has saved him (again). What you are saying is that he could have been saved without making a decision for Christ the first time he was saved, but if he wanted to be saved again after sinning, it WOULD depend on his decision. Those are two directly opposed and contradictory views. This is impossibility.
3. If the “one time believer” has the power to remove, re-instate and command the presence of the Holy Spirit (God) by means of his own actions and will, that suggests a weak and certainly unholy spirit. Again, that makes salvation absolutely reliant on the decision, action and will of the sinner, and removes all power from the hands of God.
4. Grace cannot be grace if it is subject to works, and sovereign election cannot be sovereign unless it is secured by God. The following verses written by the Apostle Paul further drives home the point that we are saved because of God’s internal purpose, not because of anything He has seen in us:
“…who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…” (2 Timothy 1:9)
“It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16 1:13)
5. As you read the following texts that convey the illumining, regenerative work of the Holy Spirit in our salvation, keep in mind the general principle that “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). This means that only the Spirit can illumine our darkened mind since the “natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).
When the church was in its infancy, Luke records in Acts that when Lydia was taught the gospel by Paul (Acts 16:14b): “the Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul”. What happened to Lydia (and Paul on the Road to Damascus) is what happens to everyone who comes to faith in Christ. If the Lord “opens our heart”, the Holy Spirit is doing a supernatural work upon our closed heart, so that we “will give heed”. The passage makes clear that resistance is no longer thinkable because the desire now is to give heed since the Spirit has taken what was once a dark heart and illumined the understanding. If the Lord “opened Lydia’s heart to give heed” and then the Bible recorded that she still resisted, it would be a contradictory and nonsensical statement, yet this is what synergists, and you maintain Lutherans also, would have us believe.
6. If God overcame the will in the example of Lydia then there should be no further debate as to whether He does this in everyone who comes to faith in Christ. If hostile sinners are to believe, God must initiate the making our heart of stone into a heart of flesh:
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel 36:26-27
If God takes away our heart of stone, as this passage underscores, and then gives us a heart of flesh, we will infallibly come to believe and obey. There is no possibility or thought of resistance after the fact. Indeed fallen humans resist the Holy Spirit every day they live in unbelief, but God can Sovereignly make His influences irresistible by changing the disposition of our hardened hearts which transfers us from death to life.
7. The following passage even goes further by showing a unity between God’s granting ability to come to Him with the work of the Spirit who alone gives life:
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. “But there are some of you who do not believe.” …65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” John 6:63-65
8. The fact (if true) that Lutherans do not believe in eternal security, does not make that belief correct or Biblical. Scripture alone testifies to the truth of the matter.
One more point: If the Holy Spirit leaves someone, they are once again lost. They are once again spiritually dead. Dead men cannot make decisions. A one time believer who has rejected Christ, who has committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, CANNOT make a decision to repent and believe again of his own free will. You are correct…that would be “making a decision for Christ” which Lutherans (and Calvinists) say is impossible. Believers have a free will in spiritual matters; sinners do not. If you have turned your back on God, and like King Saul, the Holy Spirit has left you, you CANNOT of your own will return to God.
Only if God chooses to “quicken” that former believer/now lost sinner…again…does this person have any hope of believing, repenting and having eternal life. Justification is ALWAYS by God’s sovereign will alone!
You make some very excellent points, Grant.
Let me clarify the Lutheran position: We believe that the Elect CANNOT lose their salvation. If God has elected you to be his child, you WILL be saved. However, we Lutherans also believe that someone can be truly saved and then at a later time, reject or neglect Christ by willful, ongoing sin, die unrepentant, and may very well wake up in hell.
What??? Makes no sense, right?
We Lutherans call this a paradox: A biblical teaching that appears to be contradictory or incomprehensible. We believe that there are many paradoxes in the Bible. Here is another one: The Bible states that Christ is the Son of God, but is as eternal as his Father, and without a beginning. How can a son be as old as his father and not have a beginning??? Makes no sense!
However, just because something “makes no sense”, and defies human reason and logic, does not mean that it isn’t true!
We Lutherans also believe this paradox: The Bible in many passages of Scripture states that God has chosen/elected/appointed those who will be saved. Lutherans believe in (Single) Predestination. But…there are also many passages of Scripture that say that God desires all men to be saved, and that Christ shed his blood for all. Therefore, Lutherans do NOT believe that God predestines anyone to hell. We believe the sinner damns HIMSELF to hell. Lutherans do NOT believe in Double Predestination.
“What??? That makes no sense!” will complain Arminians and Calvinists. “If God chooses some to go to heaven, that means he chooses the others to go to hell. That is just simple logic.”
Lutherans respond, “You are correct. That would be the logical, the reasonable, the sensible way to look at Predestination. But we believe God’s Word without trying to force God to comply with human logic and reason. God predestines the Elect to heaven. Man sends himself to hell. That may not make any sense to human beings, but that is what the plain, simple rendering of the Word states.
So, can a member of the Elect lose his salvation? No.
Can a person who is saved lose his salvation? Yes.
Can someone be saved and not one of the Elect? Probably.
This is a divine mystery, a paradox, that we Lutherans do not attempt to figure out or explain. We accept it with the faith of a child: childlike faith in our Father who we believe to ALWAYS be correct, even when what he says seems illogical.
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teachings to the word of God.