Sunday, May 6, 2012
Whoever Would Be Saved
I used to go around and around about whether or not I was one of the "elect". In plain words, I wondered if God had a "I love this one, but not that one" way of choosing whom He would save, and which side He would put me on. Before I got back into church in my early twenties, this question plagued me. How could I trust a God who might throw me into the fire on the last day? I now cling MIGHTILY to the Lutheran explanation of who will be saved (which I am not ashamed to say is the Biblical explanation). Here is Luther explaining it: Whoever would be saved should not trouble or torment himself with thoughts about God's secret counsel, about whether he also is elected and ordained to eternal life. Miserable Satan usually attacks with these thoughts and afflicts godly hearts. But they should hear Christ, who is the Book of Life, and hear about God's eternal election to eternal life for all of His children. Christ testifies to all people without distinction that it is God's will that all people should come to Him 'who labor and are heavy laden' with sin, in order that He may give them rest and save the [Matthew 11:28]. According to Christ's teaching they should abstain from their sins, repent, believe His promise, and entirely trust in Him. Since we cannot do this by ourselves, by our own powers, the Holy Spirit desires to work these things--repentance and faith--in us through the Word and Sacraments. In order that we may receive this, persevere in it, and remain steadfast, we should beg God for His grace, which He has promised us in Holy Baptism. No doubt He will give it to us according to His promise, as He has said, 'What father among you, if his son asks [him for bread, will give him a stone, or if he asks] for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luke 11:11-13)' Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord XI 70-72 These words from the confessions of our church give me so much comfort, because they point me to Christ, and His desire to save me. Thankfully I don't have to try to guess what God is thinking about me, nor do I have to look to myself and "my faith", or "my works" to try to convince myself that I am a Christian (which is a good thing, because we all fall short in that area!). Christ says, "Come to me", gives me faith by His Word, washes me clean in my Baptism, and sustains me by His Word and Sacraments. That is how the heavenly Father has given me the Holy Spirit! Thanks be to God.