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Archive for November 5th, 2012

 Marxist Theology:  Groucho that is!Groucho Marx said, “I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as one of its members.” Apply his comment to the Church: I don’t want to be a member of any Church that would have me as one of its members. I have heard people say something like that: “Oh, I can’t go to church….it’s for good people”. If that’s true, then church buildings should be empty. Remember this is the Lord who came not to seek the right people, but the wrong people.

Election is selection—in some clubs, if you have the right stuff you are elected by the membership. Sometimes that kind of election is in secret and someone may “blackball” the candidate. For the Church, one is also elected, but not by the membership. The Lord elects. Why is someone chosen for the Church by the Lord? Look at the Bible: Moses…a murderer; King David…a shepherd boy wet behind the ears; St. Paul…persecutor of the Church! The thief on the cross! All those people had been blackballed by their sin and they found out about their sin, and were cut to the core. Someone chosen because she is the best candidate? Just the opposite! There’s more. I have the wrong stuff and I need some work, in fact a total makeover in my soul! In the TV show, M*A*S*H, Hawkeye was explaining triage, the process of choosing those first for surgery: “See, it’s the person who is the bleeding the most, who has the most hurt, who’s admitted first. This is the only place where being the worse gets you to the head of the line”. Incorrect, Hawkeye: the other place is the Church and Jesus is the Physician.

Divine Election Day—  The Lord elects us. We do not elect Him! A candidate says:  “I need your vote”.  Jesus is no candidate.  He is the elect One.  We need His vote. Unlike the assertion in an election day billboard pictured here!  In the Lord’s election only one vote counts: His. Not yours, not mine!   “Has He elected me?” This is the fearful question.  Where and when has the Lord cast His vote? IN some secret incense smoke caucus in heaven behind closed doors? NO. From the Bible we know exactly when the Lord has cast his vote: Good Friday. Where? Golgotha is where and when the 

Lord was crucified. The red ‘x’, His Cross, marks the spot and the ballot electing you. Many are saying this is the most important election of our time.  No, it is not!  Good Friday is still the most important Election Day of this time and of all time.  Jesus Christ has won the election.  His red ‘ink’ is not dry. There He elected us all. He died for you. We so need His vote, His election. There He died and rose for us and our election, a very public election, for all to see. It’s like the Cross is put onto a billboard and the slogan HE”S ELECTED YOU! (See Galatians 3: 1) and pastors and ministers are the imbedded reporters announcing His election results for you. As another pastor, an Apostle no less, preached: For he says,    “In a favorable time I listened to you,   and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”   Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6: 1-3  Everyday is election day because of the Friday called Good. When the election results are announced, then today is the day of salvation! Every day we turn to Him in repentance, prayer and thanksgiving is the Lord’s salvation. The election result is His:  faith.

The Contested and yet the Utterly Necessary Election–Some will believe the message and Him. Others will not. Some will contest Him and His election. Many will embrace the election results because He loved you so much on that Friday, Election Day. He died for an electorate that was His enemy. The Holy Spirit announces Christ Jesus’ election results in the morning, Easter morning, the Lord’s Candidate  has won!  His enemies are defeated. Death where is thy sting? Devil, where is thy temptations?  Sin where are thy chains?    He is risen and you are  forgiven, one for all, once for all. He elects us. I need it so!

The Most Important Election of All Time:  The Lord’s election can not be bought: His election has bought us. I have heard that this election will cost $1 billion but that is chump change in comparison to the blood of God shed for sinners. The costliest election ever?  Hardly!  Good Friday  is the costliest election ever held, the blood of God shed for us all and for an electorate who didn’t care and did not turn out for the results on Good Friday, instead His own elected apostles fled at the costliest defeat ever in an any election imaginable (see Mark 14: 50)! The costliest defeat became the greatest victory in the world.  Jesus Christ’s  merciful election is for the worse candidates imaginable, liberal or conservative! And the Lord wants everyone to win His election. It was a hard won campaign still going on. See, it’s the person who is the bleeding the most, who has the most hurt, who’s admitted first. This is the only place where being the worse gets you to the head of the line. See it is the wounded and risen Jesus Christ: the Head of the line, for you, you: the most unlikely candidate who should not elected but needs to be! You have been elected! The victory party rejoices in the heavenly caucus over His finding you, His electorate!  (see St. Luke 15: 7)

The Prayer to See God’s WaysSpeak, Lord, for Your servant hears. Please show me now Your ways, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which comes through faith in Christ. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Give me life, O Lord, according to Your Word, and I will declare Your greatness. Amen.

 For Further Study:

Note:  I based this reflection on Article XI:  Election, Epitome of the Formula of Concord (1577), in the Book of Concord:  the Confessions of theEvangelical Lutheran Church (Wengert/Kolb) which is cited below for further study.     In the Christ, Pr. Schroeder

XI. Concerning the Eternal Predestination and Election of God

On this article there has been no public conflict among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession.  However, because it is an article of comfort when properly treated, it is also explained in this document so that no offensive dis­pute may arise in the future.

 Affirmative Theses

The Pure, True Teaching concerning This Article

1. First of all, the difference between praescientia and praedestinatio, that is,  between God’s foreknowledge and his eternal election, must be carefully noted.

2. God’s foreknowledge is nothing else than that God knows all things  before they happen, as it is written, “God in heaven reveals mysteries. He has disclosed to King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in future times” (Dan. 2:28).

3. This foreknowledge extends equally over godly people and evil people, but it is not a cause of evil. It is not the cause of sins, when people act wrong­ly (sin proceeds originally from the devil and the wicked, perverted human will), nor of human corruption, for which people are responsible themselves. Instead, God’s foreknowledge provides order in the midst of evil and sets lim­its to it. It determines how long evil can continue and determines also that everything, even if it is evil in itself, serves the welfare of God’s elect.

4. Praedestinatio, however, or God’s eternal election, extends only to the  righteous, God-pleasing children of God. It is a cause of their salvation, which God brings about. He has arranged everything that belongs to it. Our salvation is so firmly grounded on it [cf. John 10:26-29] that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” [Matt. 16:18].

5. This election is not to be probed in the secret counsel of God but rather is to be sought in the Word, where it has also been revealed.

6. However, the Word of God leads us to Christ, who is the “Book of Life” 7 [Phil. 4:3Rev. 3:5], in whom are inscribed and chosen all who shall be eter­nally saved, as it is written, “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” [Eph. 1:4].

7. This Christ calls all sinners to himself and promises them refreshment. He is utterly serious in his desire that all people should come to him and seek help for themselves [cf. Matt. 11:28]. He offers himself to them in the Word. He desires them to hear the Word and not to plug their ears or despise his Word. To this end he promises the power and activity of the Holy Spirit, divine assis­tance in remaining faithful and attaining eternal salvation.

8. Therefore we are to make judgments regarding our election to eternal life neither on the basis of reason nor on the basis of God’s law. Such a course of action would lead us either into a wild, irresponsible, Epicurean life, or into despair—and would awaken harmful thoughts in human hearts. Whenever people follow their reason, they can hardly escape such reflections as these: “As long as God has chosen me for salvation, I cannot be condemned no matter what I do!” or, “I have not been chosen for eternal life, so it does not help when I do good; everything is really in vain.”

9. Instead, the true meaning of election must be learned from the holy gospel of Christ. It clearly states, “God imprisoned all in unbelief that he may be merciful to all,” and that he wants no one to be lost but rather that everyone repent and believe on the Lord Christ [Rom. 11:321 Tim. 2:4; cf. Ezek. 33:11;18:23].

10. This teaching is useful and comforting for all those who are concerned about the revealed will of God and follow the order which St. Paul observed in the Epistle to the Romans. There he first of all points people to repentance, acknowledgment of their sins, and then to faith in Christ and obedience to God before he speaks of the mystery of God’s eternal election.

11. That “many are called and few are chosen” [ Matt. 20:161 does not mean that God does not want to save everyone. Instead, the reason for condemnation lies in their not hearing God’s Word at all or arrogantly despising it, plugging their ears and their hearts, and thus blocking the Holy Spirit’s ordinary path, so that he cannot carry out his work in them; or if they have given it a hearing, they cast it to the wind and pay no attention to it. Then the fault lies not with God and his election but with their own wickedness [cf. 2 Peter 2:9-15Luke 11:47-52Heb. 12:15-1725].

12. A Christian should only think about the article of God’s eternal elec­tion to the extent that it is revealed in God’s Word. The Word holds Christ before our eyes as the “Book of Life,” which he opens and reveals for us through the preaching of the holy gospel, as it is written, “Those whom he has chosen, he also called” [Rom. 8:30]. In Christ we are to seek the Father’s eter­nal election. He has decreed in his eternal, divine counsel that he will save no one apart from those who acknowledge his Son Christ and truly believe in him. We should set aside other thoughts, for they do not come from God but rather from the imagination of the evil foe. Through such thoughts he approaches us to weaken this glorious comfort for us or to take it away com­pletely. We have a glorious comfort in this salutary teaching, that we know how we have been chosen for eternal life in Christ out of sheer grace, without any merit of our own, and that no one can tear us out of his hand [John 10:28-29]. For he has assured us that he has graciously chosen us not only with mere words. He has corroborated this with an oath and sealed it with the holy sacraments. In the midst of our greatest trials we can remind ourselves of them, comfort ourselves with them, and thereby quench the fiery darts of the devil.

13. Along with this we should strive as diligently as possible to live according to God’s will and to “confirm our calling,” as Saint Peter admonishes [2 Peter 1:101. We should especially abide by the revealed Word that cannot and will not fail us.

14. This short explanation of God’s eternal election gives God his honor 15 fully and completely. On the basis of his pure mercy alone, without any merit of ours at all, he saves us “according to the purpose of his will” [Eph. 1:111. In addition, no one is given reason either for faintheartedness or for a reckless, wild life.

Antitheses or Negative Theses

False Teaching regarding This Article

Accordingly, we believe and maintain that those who present the teaching of  God’s gracious election to eternal life either in such a way that troubled Christians cannot find comfort in it but are driven to faintheartedness or despair, or in such a way that the impenitent are strengthened in their arro­gance, are not preaching this teaching according to the Word and will of God but rather according to their own reason and at the instigation of the accursed devil, because (as the Apostle testifies) “whatever was written was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope” I Rom. 15:41. Therefore, we reject the following errors:

1. When it is taught that God does not want all people to repent and believe  the gospel.

2. Likewise, that when God calls us to himself, he does not seriously intend  that all people should come to him.

3. Likewise, that God does not desire that everyone should be saved, but  rather that without regard to their sins—only because of God’s naked decision, intention, and will—some are designated for damnation, so that there is no way that they could be saved.

4. Likewise, that the cause of God’s election does not lie exclusively in God’s  mercy and the most holy merit of Christ but that there is also a cause in us, because of which God has chosen us for eternal life.

These are blasphemous, horrible, and erroneous teachings, which take away  from Christians all the comfort that they have in the holy gospel and in the use of the holy sacraments. Therefore, these errors dare not be tolerated in the church of God.

This is the brief and simple explanation of the contested articles which for a  time theologians of the Augsburg Confession taught and discussed in ways that contradicted each other. From this every simple Christian can recognize, according to the direction of God’s Word and the simple catechism, what is correct and incorrect. For here we have set forth not only the pure teaching but have also exposed and rejected contrary, erroneous teaching.  In this way the offensive divisions that had arisen are completely resolved.  May the almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus grant the grace of his Holy Spirit, that we may all be one in him (John 17: 20-21) and steadfastly remain in this Christian and God-pleasing unity.

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