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Romans 8:28-39

 

We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

In Christ's Hand

Friday of Advent 1

6 December 2013

When I was in high school a friend of mine, who was on the periphery of the Christian church, saw a film graphically depicting the devastations in the book of Revelation. My friend was shocked by the horrors that included the burning lake of fire and the abyss of hell. She wanted above all to avoid such a horrible fate as to be cast in the depths of hell forever with Satan and all his evil angels. In her childish way, she was "scared straight," by being frightened into the church. I felt sorry for her because she did not experience the gracious mercy of God, who had sent His only Son to die for her, that she might know Him and the excellence of His grace. I wanted her to know what I had experienced throughout my childhood and teen years because of a faithful church and parents who confessed the truth. In a kind of spiritual pavlovianism she was only avoiding pain by joining the church.

 

God's gracious election of us poor sinners through the merits of His Son, Jesus Christ, frees us from this pain avoidance technique. We have been chosen in eternity by the determined will of our heavenly Father to live in His presence through the righteousness of Christ. We have every spiritual blessing just poured out upon us. What God our Father has determined He will see through to its end. He will do whatever He must to bring us to our perfect fellowship with Him in our heavenly home. He will offer His dearest treasure in the person of His Son that we might be freed from sin and death. Nothing can separate us from His love!

 

Satan would love to change our focus from faith to fear. He wants us to question the validity of our salvation in Christ. He desires that we should wonder if God seriously offers this salvation to us. He is working feverishly to plant those seeds of doubt through which we might conclude that we are among the damned, and even perhaps that it is God's determined will to see to our damnation. We will fail to listen to the voice of the good Shepherd, who is always calling and gathering His flock through His gracious Word. He intends for us to rest securely in His divine promises. Faith does not doubt, but clings to Christ alone. If that is so, then He Himself has determined to give us all we need to cling to Him. Indeed, He uses His sweet and kindly word of the gospel to cling to us, that we might never be lost to Him. The certainty of his will should give us strength in trial and comfort in the midst of our troubles. He has us in His hand, and no one can snatch us from it (Jn 10:28). He promises.

 

Formula of Concord

 

"The doctrine of divine election to salvation 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 craft and might it could be snatched and taken from us. Therefore, He ordained in His eternal purpose what cannot fail or be defeated. 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' (8:28), who 'will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord'? (8:39).

 

"Furthermore, this doctrine provides glorious consolation under the cross and amid trials. In other words, God in His counsel, before 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 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 (Rm 8:28). 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).

 

"This article provides a glorious testimony that God's church will exist and abide in opposition to all the gates of hell (Mt 16:18). Likewise, it teaches what God's true church is, so that we may not be offended by the great authority of the false church (Rm 9:24-25)." 

 

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 11  
 

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You have suffered death, that death might not separate us from You. You have lived a perfect life that our sinful lives would not keep us from inheriting the gifts that You have determined to give us. Keep us sinners in Your Word that we might never doubt our election. Defend us from all the onslaughts of the evil one who would call into question Your gracious will; which you have made known to us in Your Word. Amen.

 

For all those who will be traveling this weekend, that their travels would be safe and homecomings joyful

 

For all those whose hearts have been set on the treasures of this world, that they might find peace in God's true treasure: Christ

 

For Pastor Ian Pacey, as he deliberates his divine call from Memorial Lutheran Church to be the Associate Pastor, that the Lord's Spirit would direct him 

Art: WEYDEN, Rogier van der  Annunciation Triptych  (c. 1440)

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