Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Will: What are we really saying?

What is free will? I feel the meaning of this term has lost its meaning throughout the years. The way I understand it, free will is YOUR ability to ACCEPT Christ as your Savior. It is how you have the power to receive the gifts that Christ has set out for us. But when you make statements like this, what are you saying? Are you saying that by your merit you are able to accept Jesus as Lord? Is it your flesh, your body and mind, your intelligence that allows you to make such a decision to accept these gifts?

                When you say things like this and make these kinds of statements, you are denying the work of the Holy Spirit and saying that you are worthy of accepting Christ crucified on your own, that you are able to accept those gifts without the help of anything other than yourself. No. This is not correct theology. We have all sinned and we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). If we have sinned and fall short, how are we able to come to Christ? Well first off, only by the aid of the Holy Spirit are we to recognize the gifts given to us by God, whether it be through baptism or through the hearing of the Gospel. But to go on in Romans 3, verse 24 says that we are justified not by our works, but as a GIFT by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. We are justified by faith (Romans 4:1-11) and so to say that we are able to gain faith on our own without the help of the Holy Spirit is like you one, earning your salvation by works of your own intellect, and two, claiming that you are worthy of the gift that Christ set out for you to have before it becomes a part of your life. This is not the approach you want to take. You want to recognize you are a sinner, and that you sin daily, and that there is no way around that. You need to hear the Gospel and you need to hear the gifts that Christ has already set for you and instead of actively accepting Christ, passively receive Christ through the hearing of the word or in sacrament, and let the Holy Spirit work inside of you with an open heart.

                I have had this discussion with many people who say that they have accepted Christ. They all say that their conversion was led by the Holy Spirit, not their own intellect. So if it is led by the Holy Spirit, why are not giving him the credit? That is like taking Christ credit of dying on the cross and saying that you can do it on your own. So if we all believe the same thing, than why do we not profess that in our churches? Why take away from the work of God? Always give God the glory. Never put it upon yourself because that is what Satan would have you do. So lets come together and give God all the glory that he deserves!

-- Joshua

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Attention All Weary and Heavy-Laden!

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
-- Matthew 11:28-30

This glorious Gospel passage gives me immense comfort no matter how many times I read it. One of the many beautiful things about God's Word is that it never gets old to faithful ears. And this passage is certainly no exception. Far too often I find myself burdened by my own problems. It crosses my mind all too infrequently to drop my baggage at the foot of the Cross. But why so infrequently? What other answer is there? There is no other name by which I am saved, and no other yoke I long to carry. I know I'm not the only one who becomes weary and heavy-laden. I'm not the only one who longs for rest. And I'm not the only one to which Christ gives this rest. But I'm fully convinced that even if I were the only one, Jesus would still give it freely. And who doesn't desire rest for their souls? I know I do. Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. His yoke is easy and His burden, light. Christ was crucified and risen for us. Because of this fact, we can find true rest for our souls, washed by the Blood of the crucified and risen Lamb.

And once we take His yoke upon us, His yoke becomes our yoke. His burden, our burden. Suddenly, our burdens are now light, and our yokes easy.

-- Jonathan

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Eternal Weight of Glory

"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
-- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NASB)

It's abundantly easy for me to focus on my present sufferings. So often I find myself complaining about a class I don't like, a paper I'm writing, or another type of momentary affliction. But so little do I find myself contemplating the weight of glory that awaits me in the future. It's so far beyond all comparison that my petty struggles seem meaningless. The things unseen are eternal, while the things seen (the paper sitting in front of me, the notes I don't understand on the board) are only temporal. Why dwell on these things? It's easy for us to do. But instead, why not dwell on our sinless Savior; the one who will make all things new; the one who bore the weight of sin so that someday we might have glory; the one who is eternal.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rejoice in Guilt and Sorrow

"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us."
-- 2 Corinthians 7:9 (NASB)

The LORD gave us all consciences for a reason. If we felt no guilt or sorrow from sinning boldly, we very well may have no desire to repent. God could have made us feel no shame from sinning, but then we would not do as He commands: repent. As Jeremiah 31:33 says, God wrote His Law on our hearts. He put His Law within us so that even the illiterate, the uneducated, and the plain lazy among us would know right from wrong. I thank the LORD for my conscience. Without it, my heart would neither be repentant nor contrite as I approach His Table for the Sacrament. Surely, God must be mercy... God is mercy.

-- Jonathan

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life is Meaningless... Without God

"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person."
-- Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NASB)

The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites. Many Christians don't care for it because of its negative outlook on life. After all, the Book begins by saying that all endeavor is futile, that all tasks in life are meaningless, a striving after the wind. This took me aback as well, the first time I read it. But if one reads the entire Book, the message becomes so much more divine. Life is meaningless... Meaningless without God. It's meaningless to spend your life chasing after riches, wisdom, and pleasure. After all, you will die someday. Aside from the special cases of Enoch and Elijah, the death rate's 100%. But the true meaning in life comes from God. The fear and love of God and our relationship with Him. This not only gives meaning to our lives here and now, but it also gives us hope in the life everlasting, through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. The pursuit of happiness is not the meaning of life, and neither is 42. Our crucified and risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is where the meaning of life dwells. And how could one find dismay in this message?

-- Jonathan