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1 Timothy

2:1-7

 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle;(I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

What's It For?

St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr 

23 October 2013

Predestination is a deep and mysterious doctrine for us humans to ponder. Many foolish and unbiblical teachings have arisen under its name, such as "once saved, always saved" and predestination unto damnation. Once saved, always saved gives rise to false security on the one hand. On the other, predestination to damnation leads people to hopelessness and despair. The Bible most certainly teaches that those who are saved have been predestined to salvation by their gracious God. However, the Bible does not teach that those who are saved are unable to fall from faith; St. Peter and King David being prime exhibits of those who fell. Nor does the Bible teach that those who are damned are damned for any reason other than their own stubborn unbelief (Lk 7:30). The Bible teaches that God passionately desires the salvation of all persons, even though not all come to the faith and are saved (1Ti 2:4). God is so serious about this promise that Christ's death for sinners was offered even for those who would never come to believe that He died to buy them back (2Pt 2:1).

 

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the Second Amendment of the Constitution does permit individual citizens to keep firearms in their homes. Despite that clearly enumerated right, governments are able to restrict certain firearms, primarily under the rubric of their use, that is, can they reasonably be expected to be used for lawful hunting or self-defense? For example, many jurisdictions have forbidden the possession of sawed-off shotguns, arguing that their purpose is merely for the perpetration of mayhem by criminals. The issue here revolves around what the gun is for; or what its purpose is. Likewise, the Bible's doctrine of predestination must be used within the purpose for which God revealed it to the prophets and the apostles.

 

What is predestination for? It is to comfort struggling believers and to build faith in those who need encouragement to stand firm in their faith. Predestination is gospel, that is, good news. The good news of the gospel must comfort and console troubled hearts, bring the sinner to the foot of the cross of their Lord Jesus and assure of eternal life through the gracious gifts of God. If predestination is used to terrify those who are troubled, a gospel proclamation has been demoted to law. That which God intended to defend our hearts from despair has been turned into sawed-off shotgun tearing holes in the faith of the broken-hearted. This would be theological mayhem. Predestination must not be used to make secure those who are smug in their faith or full of self-righteousness or to terrorize true believers who feel the weakness of their piety. Predestination is for the comfort of the struggling faithful.

 

Formula of Concord

 

"This doctrine [of predestination] also provides the excellent and glorious consolation that God was greatly concerned about the conversion, righteousness, and salvation of every Christian. He so faithfully provided for it that even before the foundation of the world was laid, He considered it, and in His purpose ordained how He would bring me to salvation and preserve me in salvation. He wanted to secure my salvation so well and so certainly, since through the weakness and wickedness of our flesh salvation could easily be lost from our hands, or through the devil's and the world's skill and might it could be snatched and taken from us. Therefore, He ordained in His eternal purpose what cannot fail or be overthrown. He placed salvation for safekeeping in the almighty hand of our Savior, Jesus Christ, from which no one can snatch us (Jn 10:28). Therefore, Paul asks in Romans, because we 'are called according to His purpose' (Rm 8:28), who 'will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord'? (Rm 8:39).

 

"Furthermore, this doctrine provides glorious consolation under the cross and amidst trials. In other words, God in His counsel, before the time of the world, determined and decreed that He would assist us in all distresses. He determined to grant patience, give consolation, nourish and encourage hope, and produce an outcome for us that would contribute to our salvation. Also, Paul teaches this in a very consoling way. He explains that God in His purpose has ordained before the time of the world by what crosses and sufferings He would conform every one of His elect to the image of His Son. His cross shall and must work together for good for everyone, because they are called according to God's purpose. Therefore, Paul has concluded that it is certain and beyond doubt that neither 'tribulation, or distress,' neither 'death nor life,' or other such things 'will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Rm 8:28, 29, 35, 38, 39)."

 
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, 11.45-49
 
Prayer

Heavenly Father, shepherd of Your people, You raised up James the Just, brother of our Lord, to lead and guide Your Church.  Grant that we may follow his example of prayer and reconciliation and be strengthened by the witness of his death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

For those who are suffering from inclement weather, that the Lord Jesus would be their help in trouble

 

For Pr. Randy Golter of LCMS Office of International Mission, that the Lord Jesus would grant him strength and wisdom

 

For "Issues, Etc.," that the Holy Spirit would grant His blessing to the programs, that those who do not know the mercy of Christ would be brought to faith

Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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