Imagine you are a soldier, lying wounded on the verge of death in an enemy prison. And then, as you are about to breathe your last, a commando breaks in, slaying the enemy guards. You flatline, and he breaks out the paddles and revives you. He quickly moves to your side, stabilizes you, tends to you until you can move, gets you up and moves you out of the installation and back to the base. Your commanding officer sees you and exclaims, "Soldier - you were left for dead! How did you get here?"It's a great illustration. It's akin to the Biblical illustration I've used for years: Jesus' friend, Lazarus, is dead in a tomb (four days dead; already beginning to smell dead - in other words, dead dead). He can do nothing to come forth from that tomb. He's dead. And yet, he does come forth out of that tomb alive. How? Did he make a decision to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior? Um, no. The dude was dead! He was brought back to life and came out of that tomb alive by the Word Incarnate: "Lazarus, come forth." It's the same with us. We're spiritually dead in sin from conception. We're not partially dead, but dead dead. Like Lazarus, we can do nothing to change our condition. The only way we can be brought from death to life is by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). To claim that we decided to accept Jesus and gain eternal life through Him turns faith into a work we accomplish and is as preposterous as Lazarus telling his buddies that he made the decision to come forth from that tomb (or the soldier telling his commanding officer that he decided to come with the commando). Decision theology, popular as it may be in our day and age, is absurd, which is why we Lutherans confess:
You respond - "Because I decided to come with this commando."
This is the approach of decision theology.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith . . . (Small Catechism - Explanation to the Third Article of the Creed).