The New Life of a Christian: Are We Like a Trumpet or a Singer?

singerMichael P. Middendorf, professor of theology at Concordia University, Irvine, suggests that, when it comes to the life of a Christian, a follower of Jesus is like a singer. He writes,

The imperatives Paul addresses to Christians throughout his letter indicate that willing human involvement remains necessary.  Thus the notion that a sanctified life of good works is totally the work of God or done solely by the Holy Spirit should be rejected.  The Formula of Concord observes,

After the Holy Spirit has performed and accomplished this [conversion] and the will of man has been changed and renewed solely by God’s power and activity, man’s new will becomes an instrument and means of God the Holy Spirit, so that man not only lays hold on grace but also cooperates with the Holy Spirit, in the works that follow. (FC Ep II 18; cf. FC SC II 65 cited above) … But the believer without any coercion and with a willing spirit, in so far as he is reborn, does what no threat of the law could ever have wrung from him. (FC Ep. VI 7)

In order to explain this new obedience, I have used this musical analogy with students. Are we like a trumpet which can only sit lifeless in a case until the Spirit irresistibly picks it up and blows life into and through it? Or is the new obedience more like a singer to whom God has given life, breath, talent, and even songs to sing; who then says, ‘Sing for me!” or better yet, ‘Sing with me!’ The latter more accurately depicts the Christian.

From: “The New Obedience: An Exegetical Glance at Article VI of the Augsburg Confession” by Michael P. Middendorf, in Concordia Journal, Summer, 2015, p. 213- 214. You can read the entire article at: Concordia Journal.

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