This is kind of a follow up post to my last one. I’ve started read C.F.W. Walther’s The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel when there came to a part about accepting faith. Upon first glance, it seems to indicate salvation is in fact something that you have to accept, but when you read it carefully, you’ll realize that the type of acceptance he is referring to isn’t transactional but instead simply taking something for what it is.
But does not the Gospel demand faith? Yes; that, however, is just the same kind of command as when you say to a hungry person, “Come, sit down at my table and eat.” The hungry person will not reply: “Bosh! I will not take orders from you.” No, he will understand and accept your words as a kind invitation. That is what the Gospel is—a kind invitation to partake of heavenly blessings.
I like this portion because at first it sounds like it’s something we choose to do, IE accept the gospel. But when you really look at it and think about it, Walther doesn’t appear to be using the word accept as most Christians today would. Instead, he appears using it more in terms of “recognition of a fact” instead of “choosing to do something.” You don’t accept the gospel on your own doing or merits but you just have faith and because it is given to you, you accept that you have it. To better explain it, let’s say that I have a stapler. I accept the fact that it’s a stapler because that’s what it is. Likewise, the faith that the Gospel demands isn’t something I accept in the sense that I choose it, but I accept the fact that I have it through no decisions of my own.
Notice how Walther says that, “he will understand and accept your words as a kind invitation.” He does not say he is accepting a kind invitation. NO! He is saying that he is accepting your words for exactly what they are, a kind invitation. So when you are given faith and the forgiveness of sins, you simply accept that you have it. You do not accept it in the transactional sense that by accepting it, you are doing something to merit this forgiveness.