Theological Quibble: Decision for Christ
A local church ran an ad that was summarized by the following list:
- God is real.
- God wants a personal relationship with you through his Son, Jesus Christ.
- One day, everything will change. God will be done waiting. After that, the matter will be settled.
- But for some, possibly you too, the matter may be settled today.
- Decide right now to accept the free gift that Jesus offers.
- Pray–a prayer like the one listed below–God will save you!
The prayer they list:
God, here I am. I believe in you. I believe in Jesus. I want to live the rest of my days for you. Please forgive my mistakes and help me to grow to be who you want me to be. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Whoo-boy. Where to begin?
Well, I have no quibbles with (1). God is most definitely real.
(2), however, is my first problem. God is omnipotent, and the Bible isn’t chronicling an extended effort by God to preserve and promote human free will. God is glorifying himself in his creation. Human free will is a component of that, but not the end-all, beat-all centerpiece of it. It’s only one small piece of the puzzle.
So, if God is omnipotent and is not preserving and promoting human free will, it now follows that if he wants a personal relationship with you, then a personal relationship with you he will have. He isn’t passively waiting for you to make the first move.
I’ve actually heard one Arminian go so far as to say that God is on his knees, begging you for a relationship. Oh, if you’d only accept his free gift of grace, then you and he can happily dance into the sunset together forever!
Not the God I serve. The God I serve is powerful and sovereign. Everything he does is proactive and for a reason. He doesn’t beg on his knees for anyone to enter into a relationship with him–he makes it happen.
Which means (3) is just illogical. God can’t “finish” waiting if he was never waiting in the first place.
The righteous have always lived by faith. Nothing is going to change “one day.” The centrality of an active, saving faith in the Father through the Son is always going to be the key to salvation, and always was the key to salvation.
Items (4) through (6) paint Christianity as a one-time choice. An Arminian stresses the free will choice that mankind allegedly has; the ability to accept or reject God. The Calvinist agrees the choice is there, with the caveat that all will reject God unless God actively intervenes and regenerates the sinner. This regeneration has but one free will response: active faith in God through Jesus Christ. Final arbiter of the church’s identity, both corporate and individual: God. The Arminian has man deciding from day-to-day if he’s in God’s camp or not.
Does God like the lukewarm? According to Revelation 3:16, not so much really.
The Calvinist picture of things is light years away from the whole idea of “choosing God.” The Christian (the elect) has already been chosen by God. So, “becoming” a Christian is a misnomer–we simply can’t choose it for ourselves. Rather, it is something that we must discover about ourselves with the passing years.
Our Christianity is a turning point in our lives (as it should be). But it is also something that was eternally ours all along. We can’t decide to take it–we can only find it.
This means constant soul searching, reflection, and time spent in prayer and with the Scriptures to see ourselves as God sees us. The trials we face daily serve to strengthen the faith of the chosen, or as light through the darkness exposing the empty professions of many for what they always have been. Jesus urges us to take up our cross daily and follow him–to deny ourselves. His own brother tells us to count our trials as joy! We must consciously reject the sin in our lives, take whatever heroic measures must be taken to cleanse it permanently (don’t worry–God will help!), and move closer to Christ’s example with each passing day.
And that’s a lot harder than praying one prayer one day.