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: Third Article, Part 1)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. One of the reasons that people believe baptism is sign of our faith instead of God’s work, is that they believe they can save themselves. Maybe you’ve heard from your friend that to be saved you have to “accept Jesus into your heart” or “give your life to Christ.” That sounds good. It may even sound doable. But it’s not. The Bible says that we were dead in our trespasses and our sins. Dead people can’t do anything. Corpses can’t make decisions.
You are saved because the Holy Spirit has saved you. He has called you by the Gospel. It may be that the Gospel was first delivered to you in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. It may be that you heard the Good News of Jesus later in life and were baptized. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that it was the Word that your ears heard by which the Spirit gave you faith which declares, “Jesus died and rose…for me!”
Jesus accomplished your salvation. He did what needed to be done. Came into your flesh. Took your sins. Made them His own. Died for you on Calvary. Rose on Easter. That’s Jesus doing the saving. But now you need the salvation delivered to you. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. He delivers those gifts to you by the means God has chosen: the water and Word of Holy Baptism, the preached and taught Word, the Supper of Christ’s Body and Blood. We call those the “B.A.G.S.” Baptism. Absolution. Gospel. Supper. And in those “B.A.G.S.” the Holy Spirit is carrying Jesus’ forgiveness to you.
No, you don’t choose Jesus. He chooses you. No, you don’t give your heart to Jesus. He gives you a new heart. No, you don’t join the church. The Holy Spirit brings you to faith and gathers you into the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit has saved you. He saves you by giving you the Jesus gifts. That’s all a gift to you. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Lord, ’tis not that I did choose Thee; That, I know, could never be; For this heart would still refuse Thee Had Thy grace not chosen me. Thou hast from the sin that stained me Washed and cleansed and set me free And unto this end ordained me, That I ever live to Thee. (Lord, ‘Tis Not That I Did Choose Thee, LSB 573:1)