In my previous post I talked about the wages of sin as it related to the movie Dunkirk. In this post I want discuss how the wages of sin relates to our salvation from sin, and specifically what in theology is called the doctrine of soteriology. Over the years I’ve found that my conviction of how we are saved has had a powerful impact on keeping our kids Christian.
Most Evangelical Christians are not well versed in theology in general, and likely not soteriology. The basic idea taught overtly and implied in most conservative Christian Protestant churches is that we are saved from sin because we believe on the Lord Jesus. This is of course true, as Paul declares in Romans 10:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
But a question arose over the course of Church history about the nature of this belief: Where does the power or ability to believe come from? Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ would think this is if not a silly question, then at least an unnecessary one. Who cares, they might think. We’re presented with the gospel, then we either believe or we don’t. But it’s not that simple.
For the first six years of my Christian life I never even conceived that why I believed needed to be asked. I was presented with the gospel, thought through the implications, and whether I believed the message or not was up to me. But was it? It is clear that people presented with the gospel do have a choice to make, and that some accept the message while others reject it. But why is this? Since I was “born again” into a Christian culture that didn’t think Christian history was important, I never thought to ask such a question. But this question has occupied many great Christian thinkers since Paul started writing his letters.
Why is this important? If we take seriously the biblical assertion that the wages of sin is death, we can’t help but know that the question is important. What does this death mean? We get a hint from Genesis 2. The Lord said to Adam that if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die. Since Adam and Even didn’t drop dead on the spot, there had to be more going on than physical death. Simply put, the death the Lord was referring to was a spiritual death, or man’s alienation from his creator. We get a hint what this means when God goes “walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” and Adam and Eve try to hide from him. Good luck! It’s almost humorous when we read of the Lord God asking of Adam, “Where are you?” As if he didn’t know.
But this narrative is a perfect picture of “the wages of sin.” The natural inclination of the sinful human heart is to try to hide from God. The reason is that we know we are guilty, and that somehow God is our judge, jury, and executioner. Quoting the Old Testament, Paul says that “no one seeks God.” Every Christian, except the most extreme Pelagian, knows that this implies that there must be some supernatural work of God in the human soul to bring someone to Christ, but just how much work is the sticking point.
I am of the opinion that dead means . . . dead. Not mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. I’m with Miracle Max on this one.
It was put to me this way when I first encountered these ideas. One view is that in my sin I am flailing in the pool in danger of drowning because I don’t know how to swim, and I’m calling out for help. I have the ability to reach for help that’s offered, the gospel, and I am saved. The other view is that I’m dead at the bottom of the pool. The gospel is not good news to a dead man. The only way I can believe it and be saved is if God does a supernatural work of spiritual resurrection in my soul. Only then can I believe.
Why would this help keep our kids Christian? Stay tuned . . .