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Different Questions

This is the story from Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller of Hope Lutheran Church. Bryan is a co-host of the Table Talk Radio podcast. In this 2014 interview, he was discussing "Decision Theology" with Pastor Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.

I was in the McDonald's…and I was there to rent a movie at the Redbox and I'm standing there in line. And this older lady looks up at me and she says, "What do you do?" I wasn't wearing my collar or anything…just trying to get a movie. And I told her, "I'm a Lutheran pastor." And she said, "Oh, I'm a Southern Baptist. What's the difference between the Lutherans and the Southern Baptists?"

And I said, "Well…here's one thing you might notice: I bet you at your service you have a time of decision at the end." And she said, "Yes, that's right."

And I said, "And that's the time where you have an altar call and the preacher will tell people to come up and they can pray…they can dedicate their life to Christ or rededicate their life, they can hand things over to him…they can make a decision, pray the Sinners Prayer, etcetera, etcetera. And that's one of the highlights of your church service." And she said, "Well yeah, surely it is."

"Well, we Lutherans ask a different question. The question we ask is not: Have you made a decision for Jesus? But rather—Has Jesus made a decision for you? The question is not: Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? But rather—Has Jesus accepted you into his heart? The question is not: Have you given your whole life for God? But rather—Has God given his whole life for you?"

And this was an incredible thing…because here is this woman…standing in the lobby of the McDonald's, and she was crying. Tears were rolling off of her cheeks. And she says to me, "I've never heard anything so wonderful in my whole life."

Now, why? Because the Gospel for her had always been a condition, it had always been something she had to do, it had always been up to her.

And it never had had the absolute, 100% assurance of knowing that it was Jesus who's done it all. It's Jesus who won her salvation. It's Jesus who's made the way open to heaven for her. And to know that and to know the answer is: Yes!

Even though my faith waivers, even though I have doubts, and I have questions. Yes, Jesus has given himself to me. Yes, he has prayed for me. Yes, he has poured out his life and his blood so that I would be his and my sins would be forgiven. And there's no question, there's no doubt, there's no room for wondering there. It's just this absolutely, wonderful, forgiving, confident-building assurance that I am the child of God, the friend of Jesus.

Pastor Wolfmueller also shared this story at the 30:30 mark in this 2013 conference talk.