Why I Am A Christian
Strange as it may sound I am not a Christian by my own choice and volition. It is generally believed that becoming a Christian is a matter of one’s own choice. A person joins a church, any church, and thereby becomes a Christian. But is the matter as simple as that? Can one join the “one, holy, Christian church, as one joins a social club? Does membership in a church make one a Christian? A person decides with himself to live a better life, or to follow the example of Christ. Does that volition make him a Christian? The answer is No. No one ever became a Christian by his own free choice and will. To become a Christian involves the believing acceptance of all that the Bible teaches about man and about God. But the Bible teaches that man is a fallen creature wholly unable by himself to turn to God. In other words, to trust in the Lord, to love him and do what is morally good in his sight man is incapable by nature of doing. Man, the Bible teaches, is totally self-centered and hostile to God and to his fellowman. The natural state of man’s mind is one of opposition to God. Paul stated it long ago in these words; “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7).
Because of this ingrained opposition to God man cannot by his own reasoning or volition turn to God in love and confidence. He can only possess an abject fear for God. All non-Christian worship of God flows from fear. Such fear of the Deity is the basis of all pagan worship. Natural man because of the judgment of conscience either flees from God or defies Him. His whole form of worship, if he has any, is but an endeavor to appease the wrath of an angry God with his works or self imposed punishments and privations. He can proceed no farther in his approach to God. He cannot under any circumstances overcome his guilt-feelings toward God and make himself believe that God is merciful and gracious, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.
That God as a holy God and a God of love should Himself make atonement for mans guilt by bearing the punishment of his sin in his own Son and thus be free to justify man by grace does not occur to mans mind. The very idea is so foreign to his thoughts and state of mind, that, when confronted with it, he rejects it as foolishness (I Cor. 1: 18.23 – 2:14). Yet, that exactly is the heart of Christianity “that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not imputing their trespasses unto them. That is the essence of the Christian religion that the Son of God became man to be “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities and to die for our sins, and that therefore man is justified before God his Maker through faith in Jesus Christ his proxy and Redeemer. This divine truth, revealed to man in Holy Scripture, is a stumbling block to the Jews and the self-righteous, and it is foolishness to the Greek and the worldly wise. That God should die on a shameful tree for my sins is also foolishness to my natural mind. I am innately opposed to it.
That I now believe it is therefore not due to any decision of my own volition or my fine reasoning, it is through the work of God in me. I am a Christian because God made me one. It was not my choice. He conquered my hostility and persuaded me. He made me willing and caused me to believe in Jesus Christ my Lord. With Luther I must confess: “I believe that I can not 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.”
I am a Christian because the Holy Ghost has called me to faith by the Gospel, by the good news that God has forgiven me in Christ. This Gospel is the Word of God the Holy Ghost and therefore it has an inherent power to call my heart out of unbelief to faith in Christ my Lord.
I am a Christian because the Holy Ghost has enlightened my mind with His illumination. He has by the Gospel given me the knowledge and assurance that Jesus is my Savior from sin, death, and damnation. He has filled my heart with the joy and peace that accompanies such knowledge.
I am a Christian because the Holy Ghost has renewed my heart. By bringing me to faith through the Gospel He has given me the power to hate and abandon evil and the strength to love and to strive for that which is good and pleasing to God.
I am a Christian because by the providence of God I came into contact with the Gospel, the glad tidings of Gods redeeming love and forgiving grace in Christ Jesus. It happened either in my youth through the means of grace, by the instruction of my parents and teachers, or, later in life, through the Gospel-ministry of the church or by my personal reading of the Bible or Christian literature. Somewhere along lifes way the providence of God led me into contact with the Gospel of the grace of God, and somewhere along this line of contact the Holy Ghost caused me to believe. He broke up the darkness of my unbelieving heart with the light of the knowledge that Jesus is my Lord and with the assurance of faith that He is the propitiation for my sins, and not for mine only but also for the sins of the whole world.
I am a Christian, not by my own free will or right reasoning, or good conduct. I am a Christian because God made me one of his children through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord. As it is written: No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:3). “By grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephs. 2:8-10). Every Christian will acknowledge with the apostle, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”
I sought the Lord and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Saviour true;
No, I was found by Thee.
Thou didst reach forth Thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea;
Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but O the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
Always Thou lovedst me.
Abounding Hope 21 February 2020
The following are Professor Murray’s notes of a sermon which he preached not long before his illness and death. They constitute only an outline, the material being expanded in delivery. * * * Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the […]
Your Church and the Priority of Worship 11 February 2020
9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall […]