I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith
The statement above, from the small catechism of Martin Luther, refers to the third article of the Apostles creed. This speaks of the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit in calling us to Jesus, gives us the faith to trust in Jesus, makes us holy in the sight of God and keeps us in the faith.
How is it that one can hear the story of Jesus crucified for sinners and still not believe? People are inclined to trust things that are reasonable. The parables testify of Our Lord Christ. Let us see how he presents himself to us;
And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ (Matthew 20:8-12 ESV)
This is clearly not instruction for the Christian businessman! To run a business in such a manner would spell disaster. After those who worked the entire day observed those who worked one hour yet received the same pay no one would show up until late the next day. The work would never get done.
Salvation in Jesus does not at all depend upon our efforts or how long we have been living in trust on Jesus alone. A person born and raised in the faith has no larger claim than the thief on the cross. Each have the full forgiveness won for the world by the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen †