How do we come to faith in Christ? How is that faith sustained and grown? How are we able to have a desire for Christ and to worship and glorify Him?
They’re relatively simple questions, but the correct answer is a tough one for sinners. It is tough because we sinners get no credit whatsoever. We receive our faith and its benefits—including the maintenance of our faith and any outward signs—purely as God’s gracious gift.
But we sinners don’t like that. The old Adam in us wants credit for something in regards to his faith and works. We much prefer to think that even if God comes most of the way to help us, that we are still “keeping our end of the bargain” in some way, as though we could in any way do even one single instance of it without God’s gifts.
The truth is that we don’t get credit for any part of our faith and Christian lives; just as the bones spoken to in the valley get no credit for rising up and getting flesh back on their skeletons; just as Lazarus got no credit for rising from the dead. That’s tough for sinners to swallow. So the old Adam in us works like crazy to find something… anything for which he can get some kind of credit.
We only bring one thing to the bargaining table in the courtroom of judgment: sin. The trouble is Christ Himself makes clear that the law demands that we “be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect”. Sin once and it’s over. You can’t be “even-more-than-perfect” to erase the sin and then go back to being plain ol’ perfect again.
Dr. Rosenbladt tackles some of this in a sermon he once gave for Reformation Day, entitled, “Gift?”. It is a simple discussion between a sinner and God. But he minces no words when it comes to revealing exactly how much desire for God there is in the sinner’s heart. That is: none.
Dr. Rosenbladt offers this caveat regarding this sermon: “Don’t let anybody tell you I don’t hold to Sola Scriptura. This is strictly a literary device, no more!” Below is an excerpt. You can read the entire sermon at New Reformation Press.
|God:||I told you. I hate religion. Religion was your idea – not Mine. You have forgotten what Anselm said: “You have not yet considered the depth of your sin.”|
|Sinner:||But I want to show you I have. I really have. I know it is really deep. Talk to me. Teach me sanctification.|
|God:||I told you. You aren’t ready for sanctification yet. You just imagine that you are ready. You are arrogant and you don’t know it.|
|Sinner:||What do you mean? I am ready.|
|God:||You are not. If you were, you wouldn’t be talking like you are talking.|
|Sinner:||Well, what then?|
|God:||Just sit there. Sit there for a long while.|
|Sinner:||And do what?|
|God:||Consider the shed blood. Consider that the blood was enough. Think about the fact that it isn’t your repenting that has saved you. Think about the fact that it isn’t your faith that is saving you.|
|Sinner:||Can’t I just, as you said, just think about my sin and the depth of it?|
|God:||That is a start. But you like doing that. You like it too much.|
|Sinner:||This makes no sense. What are you saying?|
|God:||I am saying that you like atoning for yourself by feeling guilty. And you like atoning for yourself by thinking about your faith.|
|Sinner:||Well, what else is there?|
|God:||There is Jesus Christ – but you don’t consider Him. You are not used to gifts. You don’t think much about them. Gifts make you nervous and tense. You don’t know what to do, so you jump to trying to impress Me. I am not impressible.|