Why I am a Christian today

Why am I a Christian today? Luther’s Small Catechism from the Third Article of the Creed answers this one for me.

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common true faith. Daily in this Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine and those of all believers. On the Last Day the Holy Spirit will raise me and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.”

This is how I understand the theology behind this. The Holy Spirit unites me to Christ independent of any cooperation from my unrenewed human nature. This means that only God can illuminate my understanding of his word so that I can believe. It is only God who enables me to see God’s excellence and unsurpassing beauty. Due to my human nature, it is impossible for me to come to Christ on my own, no matter how hard I may try. My own hardened resistance and stubbornness wants to do everything on my own without God; but it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit who regenerates me so that I am born again.

Do you believe you came to Christ on your own power? Why are you a Christian today?

3 thoughts on “Why I am a Christian today

  1. Probably we are both right. But if you admit the possibility of scenario 2, that implies that each person called by Christ has the choice whether to follow or reject him. So in some sense those who choose to follow are cooperating, at least in the general sense of the word although possibly not in some technical theological senses.


  2. Peter, I’m not sure how this is a false dichotomy. It depends how you look at it.

    Scenario 1: if a person comes to Christ because Christ illumines one’s understanding, one cannot do any other but follow Christ willingly.

    Scenario 2: if Christ illumines one’s understanding and is convinced that Christ is calling him, but still chooses to reject Christ.

    Technically, the person in scenario 1 is called and saved; and the person in scenario 2 is also called but not saved because he willing chose to reject Christ. Either scenario, Christ has made it possible for both persons to come to Christ.

    But the key is that Christ made it possible for either persons to come to Christ. However, cooperation exists only in the sense that he follows, but cannot choose to be saved without Christ first enabling him to follow in the first place. So I’m not sure who’s right here, maybe we’re both right?


  3. Kevin, I think you are creating a false dichotomy here. I agree with Luther that I cannot come to Christ by my own strength, and with you that “only God can illuminate my understanding of his word so that I can believe”. But that does not imply “independent of any cooperation from my unrenewed human nature”. A human can come to Christ only if they cooperate with God to the extent of allowing him to bring them to Christ, because God only wants willing followers, not slaves compelled to serve him – compare Psalm 32:9.


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