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And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, 'See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.


"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen." (ESV)







Behind Curtain Number One

Johannes von Staupitz 

25 October 2013

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her companions finally discover that behind the image of the wizard there is just a frightened little man pulling the levers. Once they got behind the image of the huffing and puffing machine controlled by the wizard, they learned what his real character was. Many Christians want to treat God the way Dorothy treated the wizard discovering what lay behind the mask of God. If we could only get behind the Bible's teaching about God and His work, we could see His real character and we would understand His hidden will.


There is no more dangerous impulse than when such a thought approaches the Bible's teaching of predestination. Everyone wants to get behind the revealed will of God, to speculate about what God is "really thinking." God does not, and will not, accommodate our desire to do exploratory brain surgery on His will. There is only one way to know the will of God: listen to His Word. I was struck by one of the replies that Jesus made when He was tempted by Satan in Mt 4:4: "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" What had been written was nothing other than what had come from the mouth of God. Jesus the eternal Son of God made no distinction between the speech that came from God's mouth and what was written. Whatever was written at the command of God emanated from God's mouth and reveals what we need to know about God's will.


Whatever has been revealed by God through His speech to us and written for our learning reveals the full will of God to us. Could God have a different or greater will? Yes, certainly. That will, whatever it might be, is just not open to us. He has revealed none other will to us than that which He revealed in Christ. If we judge God by His divine Word then we are hard pressed to imagine what His will might be apart from His will in Christ. He has made promises to us and has staked His promises on His divine reputation. He has promised in Christ that He has elected us from eternity and done what is necessary in time to bring that promise to its conclusion through the work of the Holy Spirit bringing us to faith. He has not revealed to us that He has predestined to eternal damnation, therefore we should never speculate about that possibility. We have no right to seek to penetrate His gracious mask of self-giving and love in the person of Christ. We should submit our will to His express will in which he reveals His loving plan to save us poor sinners in Christ and will keep us in this faith through the Word and Sacraments. There is no God hidden behind the God hidden in Christ.


Formula of Concord


"If we want to think or speak correctly and usefully about eternal election, or the predestination or preordination of God's children to eternal life, we should make it our custom to avoid speculating about God's bare, secret, concealed, mysterious foreknowledge. Instead, we should think or speak about how God's counsel, purpose, and ordination in Christ Jesus, who is the true Book of Life, is revealed to us through the Word. In other words, the entire teaching about God's purpose, counsel, will, and ordination belongs to our redemption, call, justification, and salvation. They should be treated together the way Paul treats them and has explained this article (Rm 8:29-30; Eph 1:4-10) and as Christ treated it in the parable of Mt 22:1-14; namely, that God in His purpose and counsel ordained the following:


"1. The human race is truly redeemed and reconciled with God through Christ. By His spotless obedience, suffering, and death, Christ merited for us the righteousness that helps us before God and also merits eternal life.

"2. Such merit and benefits of Christ are presented, offered, and distributed to us through His Word and Sacraments.

"3. By His Holy Spirit, through the Word, when it is preached, heard, and pondered, Christ will be effective and active in us, will convert hearts to true repentance and preserve them in the true faith.

"4. The Spirit will justify all those who in true repentance receive Christ by a true faith. He will receive them into grace, the adoption of sons, and the inheritance of eternal life (Gal 3:19).

"5. He will also sanctify in love those who are justified, as St. Paul says (Eph 1:4).

"6. He also will protect them in their great weakness against the devil, the world, and the flesh. He will rule and lead them in His ways (Deut 8:6), raise them again when they stumble (Pro 4:11-12), comfort them under the cross and in temptation (2Co 1:3-5], and preserve them for life eternal (Jn 12:25).

"7. He will also strengthen, increase, and support to the end the good work that He has begun in them (Phil 1:6), if they cling to God's Word, pray diligently, abide in God's goodness, and faithfully use the gifts they received (Mt 25:14-30).

"8. Finally, He will eternally save and glorify in everlasting life those whom He has elected, called, and justified." 


Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration,

O God, almighty Father, You told us through Your Son, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever You ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you." He has commanded and encouraged us to pray in His name, "Ask, and you will receive," and has also said, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver You, and you shall glorify Me." We unworthy sinners, relying on these Your words and command, pray for Your mercy with such faith as we can muster. Graciously free us from all evil, and undo the work that Satan has done, to the honor of Your name and the strengthening of the faith of believers; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.


For Pastor Charles and Deborah St-Onge, Olivia and Sophia, that the Lord Jesus would be with them as they prepare to move into the international mission field


For all those who suffer from besetting temptations to despair of the mercy of God or other great shame and vice, that they would be rescued by Christ


For Herb Michael, that the Lord Jesus would be with him and strengthen him as he recovers from a stroke


For all mission workers in Latin America, that God the Lord would send his holy angels to watch over them and guard them from all harm
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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