Sermon Illustrations

Jesus is in no way ashamed of the sovereign work of God in giving a chosen people to His Son to save.

A wise, elderly woman in the congregation, hearing the preacher struggle to explain predestination, said: “Ah, I have long settled that point. For if God had not chosen me before I was born, I am sure he would have seen nothing in me to have chosen me afterward.” She has fingered the problem. The harshness of God’s electing grace is not that God chooses who will be saved; it is the realization that we would never chose him.

C. S. Lewis paints this well in The Last Battle. The lion, Aslan, the Christ-figure, has defeated his enemies, among which is a group of unhappy dwarves who have been held captive in a dirty, dark stable. Rather than treat them as enemies, Aslan surrounds them with green grass, blue sky, and fresh air. But the dwarves, so intent on self-preservation, huddle in a little circle as though still imprisoned.

“Aslan…will you do something for these dwarfs?” someone asked. “Dearest,” said Aslan, “I will show you what I can do, and what I cannot do.” Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the dwarfs’ knees: pies…pigeons…trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn’t much use. They began eating and drinking greedily enough, but it was clear that they couldn’t taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you would find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and another said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he’d found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets of rich red wine to their lips and said “Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey’s been at. Never thought we’d come to this.”

“You see,” said Aslan. “They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”

God dwells with the contrite and lifts the lowly. The truth of election humbles our pride because it reveals out blindness to beauty and the foolishness of our rejection of deep joy and lasting pleasure.