Do we love preaching predestination? Or does it perhaps scare us, or intimidate us, or at least cause us to pause? I’ll confess some of the latter.
That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? After all, predestination challenges our human logic. Our sin-infested mind loves the logic of double-predestination, or intuitu fidei. Perhaps preaching predestination gives us pause because we – correctly! – don’t want to fall into either of those two ditches.
And yet, the truth is oh-so-beautiful! Can you imagine? Before God ever created the world, God had looked down through all of time, and he had picked out those people who would be believers, had chosen them to be His people. Notice, who did the choosing? God did! When did God do it? God did it before time even began! Whom did he choose? Amazingly, sinful humans, like you and me!
To say it slightly differently, before the world was ever created, God chose you to be his child. Before the world was ever created, God had looked down through the years and said, “Tom, Steve, Brad, Dan, (insert your name), I pick you to be one of my children. I choose … you!’” That makes you and me feel awesome, doesn’t it?! It gives me peace, knowing that my salvation rests firmly in God’s hands! It gives me confidence in God’s love! It makes me to feel special, unique, blessed! He chose me! Yes, me!
And, that’s exactly what predestination is meant to do! It’s meant to bring encouragement, joy and peace to God’s people!
Life is filled with so many questions. “Will my health hold out, or get better/worse? Will I keep my job, or have to find another? Should I be thinking about going back to school, or looking for a different position, or selling my house, or …? Will the economy get better or worse or stay the same? Will my kids turn out okay? Etc.” So many questions!
What an honor for you and me to be able to be able to say to our people: “God says, ‘I have loved you forever! I’ve loved you as my child before I said, “Let there be light!” I’ve loved you as my child before there even was a world! And not only have I loved you way back then, but I’m going to continue to love you for all eternity! So, if I’ve loved you from forever, and if I am going to continue to love you for forever, does it not make sense that I’ll keep loving you tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Of course I will!”
Pastor, all of that is true! It’s true for your people! And it’s true for you.
Ministry is sometimes great, but sometimes frustrating, maybe greatly so. We can so easily get caught up in – and discouraged by – the challenge of the moment.
Predestination takes us out of our day-to-day existence, and takes us into the eternal counsels of the eternal God. And, not only does it take us to God’s eternal counsels, but into God’s good news eternal counsels, that he’s chosen you to be his child!
“But! But! But!” we sputter. “How can I know for sure that He’s chosen me?” Did you notice what God did in Ephesians 1? After talking about predestination, God almost immediately points our attention to Jesus and his work of salvation: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace …” (Eph 1:7 NIV) God points us to the cross. Why so? Because at the cross we have the ultimate proof that God loves each of us. When Jesus died on the cross, he paid for the sins of the world. If he died to pay for the sins of the whole world (which he did), then you can know for sure that he died to pay for your sins!
“But, but, but – I’m still not sure!” we sputter on. In rich grace God says, “Here’s yet another proof – your baptism! On the day you were baptized, I put my name on you, claiming you as my child, washing your sins away, clothing you with Jesus’ righteousness.” And if all that weren’t enough, God also gives us the Lord’s Supper, by which he gives us his own body and blood, and with it, the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation!
And through all of that, God gives us wonderful assurance: “Indeed, I did choose you to be my child! You are my heir!” That fills us with the confidence that only God can give! That motivates us to live in a way which is consistent with our calling! That inspires us to look at each other the way God looks at us – as holy and blameless! It inspires us to stay in the Word, so that our faith might continue to grow. It inspires us to reach out with the Word to others, because who knows how many more people God has chosen to be his? It empowers and motivates us to pray boldly, with confidence, for if God has chosen us to be his children, then he’ll certainly listen to our prayers and answer them in the way that’s best! What amazing grace God has lavished on us! What amazing truths to share with your people!
But let’s not forget, dear pastor, that each of those truths applies to you and me, too. You are God’s chosen child, chosen by God himself before the creation of the world. Yes, God chose you to be his. What honor! And what honor you and I have to be able to share those truths with many more of God’s chosen people. I pray that we love doing it. And I pray that God blesses you richly as you do so.