Tuesday, October 24, 2006

all analogies falter, but..

Humor me while I present an analogy in the form of a story, two stories really, relating to salvation that I came up with.

There are two brothers who have recently lost their father. Their father was a very successful business man, and his skill at making money was only surpassed by his joy and energy in giving that money away to others. When he died, he gave most of his fortune to general charities so as to make his money do a common good for many people. However, in his will, he left two sums of money to his sons.

There was a stipulation (of sorts) to the inheritance that he left for them, though. You see, he left the funds in the care of his financial investment company and in order for his sons to get the inheritance; they had to meet with their father’s personal investment consultant and discuss any possible investment options. Well, both sons came together to the meeting with the investment consultant and were told that the sum of money left to each of them was $100,000.

In the course of the meeting, the sons were told that they could go downstairs to the accounts payable department and have that money transferred into their own private bank account and that would end the relationship between them and this investment organization. But they were also told that this same consultant would be willing to invest their money and watch it even more diligently than he would his own money out of respect for their late father. He told these boys of a brand new product on the market that their father had just invented prior to his death that he (their father) was sure everyone in the world would want and need.

He offered to invest the entire sum (for it was an all or nothing proposition) into this new product and, if the father was right, the $100,000 would be so small an amount compared to the dividends and earnings that would come. However, initially, they would not have the $100,000 to make use of, and the dividends might take a while to start or to even be of much value at all….

Well, needless to say, both of these boys were not foolish enough to make this kind of a decision on the spur of the moment, and so they asked if they could think about this proposition for a week. They were allowed to do so, and after the week was complete, they found themselves back in the same office with the investment consultant.

The older brother thanked him for the offer, but he had decided to take the $100,000 and use it as he saw fit. The consultant again told the older brother that if he did that, which was his right, he would no longer be able to do business with this firm – nor would he legally be able to access any of the profits or benefits of his father’s product. He listened again, understood the stipulations, thanked the consultant, and then asked him to inform accounts payable that he was on his way down to retrieve his inheritance.

After his brother left, the younger brother was still sitting in his chair. He looked up at the consultant and said that he could really use the $100,000 now, but he believed in his father and loved his father so he would trust his money and invest it in this way. The investment consultant was so thrilled and he brought out the paperwork to complete the authorization. After this, the younger brother left.

The older brother had taken his money and paid off his debts and used the rest to purchase a home. He was not living an excessive life of luxury, but he was living comfortably. The younger brother still had his debts and hardships, but hoped that all would be well in the end.

It had been many more years still when finally the younger brother began receiving dividend checks. The first one was not much to speak of, but after that the amount grew exponentially! Within a few years, he had become almost as wealthy as his father was.

Upon learning of the financial gain of his younger brother, the older then went to look up the investment consultant and company that now owned and controlled all aspects of this new profitable product. He asked if he could invest all of the money that he had available so that he too could enjoy the benefits that his younger brother had. The consultant looked at him and said no. Then he showed the older brother the paperwork that he had signed when he took the $100,000 where he knew and understood that he could no longer use this firm to invest money.

When the two brothers come together and discuss their fortunes, what is the single different thing that changed their fates so utterly and completely? The younger brother chose to trust in the investment offer and the older one did not.

Many people would see this analogy (as far as it goes) as a good metaphor for how one comes to salvation. The problem arises in the fact that the younger boy can (and most of us would) boast of his good decision. Even though he would acknowledge the fact that he was given the money, the advice, the vehicle, and the opportunity to make the lucrative investment but – the difference between he and his brother is the fact that he decided to make the investment. Therefore, he has some claim to his good fortune, right?

Let’s go back to the time just after their father had died. The two boys were called into separate meetings with the investment consultant. The older brother was given the exact same speech and came with the exact same conclusion as he did above. The younger boy came in, not knowing of his brothers fortune or decision, was told that his father had left him an inheritance, but he had specified that this amount for this brother was to be invested in such and such a way.

The rest of the story plays out as it did before, but now when the two brothers compare their fortunes, the older only has himself to blame for not investing his money wisely, and the younger has only his father to thank for his exceedingly great inheritance that he eventually received.

He has nothing to boast about – not his decision. Nothing. He only can say that he was blessed by his father with the gift that was greater than anything that he would have ever chosen on his own.

That is the story of salvation. We cannot boast in anything we do in relation to salvation! It is only God who gets all of the glory. For if, as the story first showed, it is my decision that tips the scale and causes the blessings to fall on me (for without that affirmative decision, my fate would be no different from those who don’t believe), then I do have something to boast about in my salvation, no matter if I try to make it sound all pious and holy, the fact is that I would be able to boast in my decision in that it was better than my brother.

It is God who chooses those who will believe and saves them on His own behalf so that we cannot boast. The gospel is glorious. The way that you know if you have been chosen by God is in the way that you react to the gospel. If you reject the gospel – don’t repent of your sins and believe in Christ – you will show by your actions that you are a child of the devil. If, you are able to repent of your sins and place your faith in Christ, you have the proof that God chose you before time began to be saved.

Soli Deo Gloria

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