Sunday, April 18, 2010

When was Your Conversion Experience?

When were you saved? On what day and in which hour did your life change? Well you know that if you cannot recall a day that you became a believer you cannot know that you are saved, don’t you? These questions can plague a believer to the point of distraction and doubt about salvation. They are based upon some concern for others by those who believe he or she had some part in salvation by making a choice. Some, who will deny free will, maintain there must be a point of time to which one can point for proof of salvation.

We are not to look back to our conversion for assurance, but we must go to the Savior again and again, every day, as though we had never been converted. My former conversion will be of no benefit to me if I become secure. I must return to the mercy-seat every day, otherwise I shall make my former conversion my savior, by relying on it. That would be awful; for in the last analysis it would mean I make myself my savior. -- C. F. W. Walther, *Proper Distinction* p. 207

In the above section Walther explains something which the bible teaches plainly. It is not just a one time looking to Jesus but a daily owning up to sin and fleeing to Jesus lest we become too secure and take our eyes off Jesus. This is especially true if one is raised in a Christian home where the word of God is read and taught. From infancy these words were heard and taken in. So that when a question is asked of the child instructed in the faith the response can be one of faith and assurance in the strong word of God.

2 Timothy 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ESV

From the above St Paul did not hold St Timothy to a conversion experience but rather pointed to the word of God being sufficient to bring one to faith. So under the common evangelical exam one could walk away form St. Timothy doubting his conversion since he probably did not have a huge life change as did St Paul. However, nowhere in scripture do we find the requirement that one have a big life change experience. Granted those converted from a life of hedonism will see some rapid change. The sin which once so enthralled him or her is now repulsive. After a time all the outward vileness will be gone. What will come with maturity and years of Jesus leading and walking with us is we will in fact see sins which were before hidden under more obvious actions. We do remain full blown children of Adam for as long as we are bashing about here in this fallen world.

The gift that carries us through is baptism and its promises. When we are constantly repenting and receiving forgiveness for sins such as covetousness or anger with a brother we can rest assured of the promises of our baptism.

Galatians 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise. ESV

And our God is so gift giving he has also willed that repentance and forgiveness of sins be proclaimed through all the earth. And if those two gifts were not enough he also gives us his body and blood to eat and drink. After years of remembering God placing his name on you. Hearing Jesus died for you and you receive forgiveness life and salvation for you in the Supper no doubt casting brother in Jesus, your flesh or the devil can totally cast you into doubt.

Good Lord Jesus. Thank you for all the assuring promises in these your gifts. May they keep us in the true faith unto life everlasting. Amen †

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Unexpected.

She was brought to Jesus in order to tempt him. This woman caught in adultery. Was she guilty? Without a doubt! Caught in the act she was and worthy of death according to the civil laws of the day. However, it was not about her sin which those who brought her to Jesus were concerned. They wanted to put Jesus on trial. He was constantly congregating with sinners such as she. This did not sit well with the clean churchly. Those who had all their Theological ducks lined up neatly. We all love our ducks lined up and to be outwardly clean. But oh how that can build ego! While building ego it blinds to ones own sin doesn’t it? They expected Jesus to condemn her. As we expect Jesus to condemn others but not us.

John 8: 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ESV

After Jesus did some writing on the ground Jesus asked for any of them who were without sin throw the first stone. Then he wrote some more. Many have speculated he wrote accusations against some of them or all of them the sins of which they were guilty. Some have given other opinions about writing the law. We don’t know what Jesus wrote. But the most important thing he did was the unexpected. He forgave her. And this forgiveness brought new life. A life free from bondage to her sin. Jesus was there for her like no other man was there for her.

I heard many times over how some think the Gospel is both good news and bad news. Good news for those who believe it but bad for those who do not. This is false teaching. It fails to consider that we are all in the same condemned boat outside of Jesus. That those who believe were never condemned somehow apart from the general run of humanity. And that God chose some to damnation along with choosing the redeemed. This is moving the focus off Christ the Chosen Lamb to be Slain and looking at which sinners are saved and which are lost. Not focusing on Jesus leads to all sort of error. When Jesus is the focus in the choosing these issues fade from sight. Those in Jesus are chosen for eternal life.

John3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” ESV

We see here the Gospel of Jesus does not condemn nor is it bad news to the unbeliever. The good news, the gift, is for all. Even those who will not turn to Jesus due to evil deeds which they want and appreciate. The forgiveness is theirs. Such a pity to love the temporary pleasure of this life and self righteousness which will end when we are resurrected. An eternity of continual dying instead of eternal life with he who is Life.

“Holy Spirit, grant true repentance for those loving darkness. I think especially of family and friends who have estranged themselves from you. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy!”

In the name of Jesus. †