Dear Elected in Christ,
As you read this newsletter article, you are either preparing to cast your ballot for many elected positions in federal, state, and local politics; or you have already done so. This election season has been long (most would say, too long) and filled with debates, commercials, and commentary that you might have heard (or perhaps you have been avoiding). But as long as you have considered who you would cast a vote for in this election, it calls to mind another “election.” This one has nothing to do with politics, debates, or television commercials, but it has everything to do with you.
You are chosen by God. The Bible uses the word “elected” to describe how you are set apart by God. He has chosen you to receive His grace and mercy. St. Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians and to you about this comforting act of God electing you:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His Will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His Will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory. – Ephesians 1:3-14 (emphasis added)
Notice how St. Paul teaches us to bless God because He chose us even before the world was created! He predestined us to be adopted and to be called His sons! He has chosen us for forgiveness and life and salvation! This election of you by God is good news! It is right to thank and praise God that He chose you, even before your birth.
This, however, does not lead to the Calvinist false teaching that God also elects some people to condemnation. Many Christians, ask that question, “If God predestined me for salvation, does that mean that He chose to condemn non-believers to hell?” Holy Scripture never says that God creates people for condemnation, or that He desires them to be condemned. St. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:4, “[God our Savior] desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” To go beyond what Scripture says about election is to guess and speculate, and we have not authority from God to do so, which is what Calvinist do. We know that God has chosen believers to receive His inheritance, and we know that God desires all sinners to be saved. What about those who don’t believe? We know only that it is because of their hard-heartedness and sin. Beyond that, we cannot say. Drawn from Holy Scripture, the Formula of Concord (part of The Lutheran Confessions, which our church subscribes to) states this very well for us.
Thus far a Christian should occupy himself [in meditation] with the article concerning the eternal election of God, as it has been revealed in God’s Word, which presents to us Christ as the Book of Life, which He opens and reveals to us by the preaching of the holy Gospel, as it is written Rom. 8:30: Whom He did predestinate, them He also called. In Him we are to seek the eternal election of the Father, who has determined in His eternal divine counsel that He would save no one except those who know His Son Christ and truly believe on Him. Other thoughts are to be [entirely] banished [from the minds of the godly], as they proceed not from God, but from the suggestion of the Evil Foe, whereby he attempts to weaken or entirely to remove from us the glorious consolation which we have in this salutary doctrine, namely, that we know [assuredly] that out of pure grace, without any merit of our own, we have been elected in Christ to eternal life, and that no one can pluck us out of His hand; as He has not only promised this gracious election with mere words, but has also certified it with an oath and sealed it with the holy Sacraments, which we can [ought to] call to mind in our most severe temptations, and take comfort in them, and therewith quench the fiery darts of the devil. (Formula of Concord, Epitome, IX:13, emphasis added)
In other words, Satan tempts you to ask questions about election that God simply does not answer in Holy Scripture in order to plant seeds of doubt about God’s love and goodness. However, be certain that all those who believe in Christ have been chosen by God and receive His gifts, now and forever! Rest in Christ’s peace, as it is His death and resurrection that call you holy and blameless.
In Christ’s peace,
Pastor Steven J. Anderson