[Note to those readers outside the CD community: we are teaching our way through Romans, and thus the topics of election and predestination are on the front burner for many in our community. It might be wise to refrain from commenting without first listening to some of the sermons which unfold the text and establish a common base for conversation.]
One of my goals in the coming weeks is to post various quotes on the blog that will ignite reflection and prayer on the subject of election/predestination. If you have thoughts or questions you’d like to throw out for discussion, don’t be shy! Let’s hash through this in ways that further the glory of God and the benefit of our community.
Here’s a quote to start the conversation. In his Commentary on Romans, Martin Luther writes, “There are yet three thoughts that should be considered in connection with the subject of divine predestination…”
First, there are the proofs of God’s unchangeable election, gathered from the words of Scripture and His divine works. [He goes on to quote Scripture for 3 paragraphs, referencing Romans 9:8, 9:15, 9:18; John 13:18; John 10:27-29; 2 Timothy 2:19; Matthew 26:14; and Luke 23:41.]
The second thought is that all objections to predestination proceed from the wisdom of the flesh. Hence, whoever does not deny himself and does not learn to keep his thoughts in subjection to the divine will, never will find an answer to his questions. And that rightly so, for the foolish wisdom of the flesh exalts itself above God and judges his will, just as though this were of little importance… For this reason the Apostle refutes all objections with two brief statements [Rom 9:20 and 21].
The third thought is that this doctrine is indeed most bitter to the wisdom of the flesh… But [the flesh] is fully defeated when we learn to know that our salvation rests in no wise upon ourselves and our conduct, but is founded solely upon what is outside us, namely, on God’s election. Those who have the wisdom of the Spirit become ineffably happy through this doctrine…
If one fears that he is not elected or is otherwise troubled about his election, he should be thankful that he has such fear, for then he should surely know that God cannot lie when in Psalm 51:17 He says: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Thus [the fearful] should cheerfully cast himself on the faithfulness of God who gives this promise… It is not the characteristic of reprobates to tremble at the secret counsel of God; but that is the characteristic of the elect.