Monday, December 12, 2011

Sing Jesus into Your Heart

"That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

"Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God." (1 John 4:2)

I'm driving home from work the other day listening to some lesson on Christian radio when it comes time for the standard invitation to pray Jesus into your heart. I change over to the 24-7 Christmas station and hear this verse from Silent Night, "Christ our savior is born. Christ our savior is born."

Something hit me. I don't know whether to call it a dichotomy or a paradox. But the above passages that justify salvation via a prayer in the comfort of my own car while cruising alone down the highway aren't limited by the tradition of the "sinner's prayer." In fact, could they not extend to our favorite Christmas hymns? Consider:
  • "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing." -O Come, All Ye Faithful
  • "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!... Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!" -Joy to the World
  • "The King of kings salvation brings, Let loving hearts enthrone him." -What Child is This?
  • "Christ the savior is born... Jesus, Lord at thy birth" -Silent Night
  • And the entirety of Hark the Herald Angels Sing is a song of praise for the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.
So considering the basis for praying Jesus into your heart, could not one be saved simply by singing one of these traditional songs of worship?

As you ponder this doctrinal loophole, consider its implications. A local radio station effectively goes off-air from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas to play nothing but Christmas hymns and carols. Yes, many are secular. But others have such theological depth that you cannot help but to praise God while singing along. These same songs fill our shopping malls and department stores. School choirs and bands practice these songs for months to prepare for the annual Christmas concert (where they are still allowed to do so). Television schedules Christmas specials while movie producers plan their releases to time with the holiday season.

Two thousand years later, the whole world stops what it is doing and changes course. All because of a little baby born in a manger.

Now I'm not necessarily suggesting that one can "come to Christ" by singing along to a Christmas hymn, but I am suggesting that maybe these songs are the only glimpse of Jesus someone else may see. If we can go door knocking to invite someone to church, shouldn't the same principle apply when we go door to door caroling?

These are more than just favorite traditional songs. They are hymns of worship and praise. Come, let us adore Him!


Gary said...

How many steps did you complete to receive the "free gift" of Salvation?

Is this a "free" gift?

I tell my child that I have an incredible gift for him. However, in order for the gift to be his, he must:

1. apologize for his bad behavior and sincerely mean it.
2. he must commit to change his ways and follow MY ways for the rest of his life.
3. he must make a decision that he WANTS my gift.
4. he must then approach me, hold out his hands, ask me for the gift, and cooperate with me, as I place the gift into his hands.

If he does all this, he will receive his gift. But...if he chooses to reject my gift, I will damn him to HELL!

Now is this "gift" really a gift...or a REWARD for making the right decision?

No, that is NOT a gift.
This is a gift: "Dear Son, I have a gift for you. Here it is. I love you more than words can describe", and then I place the gift in my son's lap. No strings attached. The gift is his. He did nothing to receive it. I did everything.

THAT is a gift!

So what is God's free gift? It is the whole salvation package: faith, belief, repentance, forgiveness of sins, atonement, and eternal life. It is ALL free... to those whom God has predestined, before the world existed, for reasons we do not know, to be his children.

Fatha Frank said...

Gary, I appreciate the discussion. You are right that salvation is a free gift that when we try to reduce it to series of steps we miss the point. Theologians have debated for centuries (millennia even) what role God plays as the agent in the "acts" of faith and repentance. I don't think we're going to solve that here.

But let me ask you this- if you give me a gift with no strings attached (funny choice of illustration) that is wrapped for Christmas (oh, there are the strings!) do I take the gift home, put it on the shelf and do nothing with it while reflecting on how great of a gift it is? Or do I unwrap it and put it to use? And if the latter, did I "earn" the gift by unwrapping it? After all, I performed a "work" in order to receive the full benefit of the gift. If I put the gift to use (say it's a new skill saw- thanks, by the way!) did I "earn" it by "working" with it?

This may be an argument over semantics, but it is a distinction that has divided churches for hundreds of years.

Like I said, we're unlikely to resolve it here.