Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 3

I Peter 1:2 – [To God’s elect, exiles] who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
If I have learned anything in teaching Bible classes, it is this: if I want to start a confusing, frustrating discussion that leaves people dazed, confused, and, frankly, scared, I simply have to bring up the word “predestination.” Ah, yes, that terrifying doctrine that teaches God secretly chooses whom He will save, leaving everyone else in the world without any hope in the end. God arbitrarily didn’t pick them for His eternal kick-ball team. Or so we think.

We tend to worry tremendously about whether or not predestination is true. Peter, on the other hand, uses it as a greeting in his letters! He believes he is writing to God’s elect children, whom God knew He would save before the foundation of the world. Has Peter no concern for the sort of fear these words conjure up?

Well, perhaps the problem is that we no longer view predestination the way it is taught by Peter and the apostles. This doctrine is never used in the Bible to discuss some arbitrary choice God has made concerning who is or is not on the team, like in middle school gym class. No, it is a proclamation of comfort to those who are in the midst of trials!

Peter is writing to churches who are suffering persecution, wondering if God is still for them, and in need of comfort. So, he opens by addressing them as the people for whom the entire triune Godhead has worked salvation! Before their sufferings, from eternity, the Father chose to save them by sending Jesus for them (predestination). The Holy Spirit is at work to purify them from their sins (sanctification). And Jesus has called them to be His followers by graciously shedding His blood in their place (justification). Predestination is simply the Gospel that God is entirely in charge of saving you (because, by the way, He chose to save you!) from beginning to end. Your salvation was not an arbitrary decision made by God in the recesses of eternity, but God’s gracious choice from eternity to send Jesus for you!

Father, I cannot fathom how you can be both gracious and sovereign. Forgive me for doubting your good will towards your creation. I thank you that in baptism you chose to give me Jesus and His salvation. Please teach me to trust in your Word and your choices. Thanks for choosing me! AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob


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