This is the third in the series about my husband’s series on having a Christian worldview.
For the first two sections see:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.’ Ephesians 1:3-6
The doctrine of predestination or election is spelled out very clearly in these verses. Indeed, this doctrine is central to Lutheran understanding of how sinners are made right with God, how we, who are by nature sinful and unclean, can be brought into the presence of a holy God in whom there is no imperfection. In chapter 2 of Ephesians, Paul writes this to us:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God …”
And yet, throughout the history of the Church, there have been those who taught that our salvation depends, not upon God’s sovereign choice, but at least in part, on our own efforts to be saved. The idea an be seen in the Roman Catholic teaching that we are to do our best, and God will supply the rest. For example, if a full glass of water represents a place of salvation and I can only, by my efforts fill it half full — God will supply the other half.
While the 16th century Reformers rejected that idea, another form came into being not long afterwards. We find this error today called “decision theology.” It says that we must “make a decision for Christ.” He is offering us salvation, but we have to say yes to the offer. I’ve heard it described as a man drowning in a swimming pool and God throws a life preserver to him, but the man must grab it in order to be saved. It’s a nice analogy, but it’s wrong. We are already dead in the bottom on the water and only by being lifted out of the pool and resusitated can we be saved. It’s too late for us to grab onto anything.
Stay tuned for more ….