Eighth Sun. aft. Pentecost
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
July 6, 2000
(There are few theological concepts that cause more questions and doubts than the biblical teaching of Predestination. This subject has caused fear, when it was intended for our comfort. It has divided denominations, when it was intended to unite us into one eternal family, and it has been the fodder of more discussion in Bible studies than nearly any other subject covered by the Holy Scriptures. But since St. Paul addresses the doctrine of Eternal Election in today’s Epistle lesson, it is our opportunity, as it was Paul’s, to bring the real fruit of this doctrine to you this day. You see, the doctrine of Eternal Election or Predestination is meant for our joy and comfort. It is for that purpose that it is included in the Scriptures and it need not be at all a doubt-causing, fear-mongering teaching at all. Let us hear now the truth about God’s rich blessing of our election.
I. FIRST, WHAT IS THE BIBLICAL TEACHING OF PREDESTINATION?
A. In several places in the Holy Scriptures, God tells us that, in Christ, the Father
acted to call us to Him before time began. (v. 4)
1. Before we were born, before the world was made, God elected each believer to
come to faith, and enter heaven forever.
2. He Predestined us to be His sons. (Rom. 8:28-30)
B. Embraced in this blessing of eternal election, God assures us that through His means of grace (Word and Sacrament), that He will transform us from sinners to fully sanctified, perfected saints of God.
1. Having this knowledge should bring us assurance and comfort!
2. Knowing of God eternal and divine plan, in Christ Jesus, we can appreciate all
the more the wonders of His grace.
II. TO BE SURE, SOME HAVE MISUNDERSTOOD THE MESSAGE OF PREDESTINATION.
A. Some have claimed that God’s choosing His elect was done before the foundations
of the world were made, quite as a separate act from the salvation which is ours in Christ, but nothing could be farther from the truth!
1. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
a. This text make it abundantly and repeatedly clear that everything which God does to bring us into His eternal family is always connected with what Christ has done for us.
b. Look at the verses: v. 1b, 3b, 4a, 6b, 7a, 9b, 11a, 13a.
2. God did not issue a decree that would make Christ’s suffering and death superfluous!
B. Some have claimed that God’s election is a result of His foreknowledge of those
who will be obedient to His will.
1. This, of course, destroys any notion that we are saved by grace through faith in
the merits of Christ Jesus alone.
a. Now we would again be locked in a system of salvation by good works.
b. Now we would have to say that it is not God after all who does the choosing, but men conduct themselves well enough to force God’s election.
2. This is nothing more than self-righteousness and any who would trust in their
own behavior for their salvation would most certainly be lost!
C. Other have insisted that God has elected some to heaven and others to hell.
1. This makes God, not the lover of all men, but the One who loves some and despises others.
a. Of such a God, the Scriptures have no knowledge.
b. This would mean that God has rigged the game and some can never win!
2. This bad theology leads people to false and deadly conclusions:
a. Those convinced of their election can and do conclude, “If God has
elected me, I cannot be condemned, no matter what I do.”…Self-
b. Other have concluded, “If I am not elected, then it is to no avail what good I do.”…Dispair!
3. No, the divine intent of God, according to the Scriptures is clear.
(II Peter 3:9b; I Tim. 2:3-4)
III. WE CAN, INSTEAD, REJOICE IN THE DIVINE CERTAINTY OF OUR ELECTION! WHY?
A. Because the sole cause of our election is God’s free grace in Christ Jesus!
1. In Christ, God willed from eternity that all that would bring us to faith would happen!
a. He willed our Baptism.
b. He willed the power of His Word at work in our hearts.
c. He willed that Godly parents would teach the faith of Christ.
d. He willed our faith be established.
e. He willed our salvation in Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
2. All of it…every last bit…God willed and worked through the power of the Holy Spirit working through His Word and Sacraments!
a. You see, our election, like our salvation, had nothing to do with what we did!
b. Our hope is not that God has elected us, but that Christ has removed every stumbling block, every sin, every impurity, by what He has done!
B. Because the election of grace secures the salvation of God’s children!
1. God has graciously ordained our salvation in Christ Jesus!
a. Your salvation and mine finds its security in God’s eternal purpose which
cannot be thwarted, except through the rejection of faith by man.
1.) This is not the same as the false notion, “Once saved, always saved.”
2.) Many are assured of the grace of God and then reject it.
b. Such rejection, according to the Scriptures, is always the action
of man, not of God.
2. For those having faith in Christ for salvation, the assurance of grace and the assurance of election are one and the same thing!
C. Because Jesus said: “…rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
1. The Father reveals His eternal election to assure us of the faith we have received
2. The Holy Spirit continues to give us the assurance of the means of Grace which God ordained we should hear and experience.
3. All of this only serves to lift up for us the amazing grace of our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus. (Jn. 20:31)
CONCLUSION: So, dear Christian friends, put to rest any uneasiness you may have had about being elect and chosen of God. If the Spirit is speaking to you through His Word and Sacraments, elect you are. As Luther put it, “Gaze upon the wounds of Christ and the blood shed for you; there predestination will shin forth.” We are called in Christ. We are elect in Christ. We are sustained in our faith in Christ. We are members of the eternal body of Christ! Before the foundations of the world were laid, God knew you to be His own! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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