Summary: A sermon for the 8th Sunday of Pentecost, series B, on the comforting doctrine of the Predestination of the Elect.
8Pentecost2003 “God Chose You” Eph. 1:3-14
Aug. 3, 2003 (c) 2003, Rev. Robert C. Baker,
Redeemer Lutheran Church and School, Vero Beach, FL
Choices, choices, choices. It seems like every time you turn around, you’ve got to make a choice. Where to go? What to wear? What to eat? Do I stay in my job or look for another place to work? Public school, or private school? What movie is suitable for my teenager? Whom to elect into office? We are constantly bombarded with the command, “Make a choice!”
Of course, while those choices might be for a good end, on the opposite side of the coin, there are choices that have only a bad end. Pro-choice, which is just a euphemism (a nice word for a bad thing) for abortion. Euthanasia (choosing to die: someone else, which is murder, or yourself, which is suicide). Gay marriage (choosing whom you’ll marry, regardless of gender). Choosing not to come to church.
One Sunday outside the front door of a church, a little girl stood with her mother waiting for dad to bring around the car. An older gentleman approached the little girl and stuck out his fists, fingers tightly closed. “Little girl,” he said, “there’s a quarter in one of my hands. If you choose which hand, I’ll give it to you.” Not to be outfoxed, the
little girl replied, smiling, “And if you choose to tell me which hand it’s in, I’ll take it.”(1)
In our Epistle this morning, St. Paul talks about a choice, a choice that has everlasting consequences. Indeed, out of all the choices that have ever been made or ever will be made, this is the choice that lasts forever. But, there’s a catch. This choice isn’t
ours, it’s God’s. St. Paul tells us in our epistle, that God has indeed made a choice, without our involvement, without our opinion, and without our vote. He says that the choice made by God is Good News: that in Christ, from eternity, God chose you.
There’s two horrible doctrines floating around that we need to talk about. First, there’s what’s called “double predestination.” Promoted by John Calvin, this view of choice says that God chose some to go to heaven, others to go to hell. Talk about
fatalism! If you were chosen to go to hell, it doesn’t matter if you believe in Jesus as your Savior or not. You’re still going to hell. And if you were chosen to go to heaven, it doesn’t matter if you live like the devil all of your life. You’re still going to heaven.
Another horrible doctrine promoted by Jacob Arminius is what is now called “decision theology.” “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going.” “Accept Jesus as your Savior.” “Pray this little prayer with me.” “Ask Him into your heart.” But, dear friends, I ask you: When I’m doubting my salvation, when I’m really worried about my relationship with God because of my sin, when I’m wondering if I’ve ever done enough,
do you think that I’d ever be comforted knowing that “all is well” between God and me because of my choice? Not at all!
But Scripture is clear as it is comforting. A choice has been made for us, and only God made it. For all those who are saved or will be saved, God made the choice in Christ for them. And for all those who will be damned, they’re damned because of their unbelief
in Christ. Our assurance as Christians does not find its foundation on our choosing God, but in God choosing us in Christ. Before the foundation of the earth was laid, before the stars and planets were whirled into space, out of His love and mercy and because of Christ, God chose you.
Listen again to St. Paul: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him [Christ] we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Eph. 1:3-8)(2)
Paul goes on just a few verses later to reverberate that we have been predestined, that we have been chosen! What a glorious, Gospel doctrine! That the choice that matters the most was made by God even before the world began, and in and through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, God chose us. Someone has said that the doctrine of “predestination” of the elect is the only doctrine where there is no Law. It is all Gospel!