Predestination continued ….

Predestination, is the Christian doctrine that God has eternally chosen those whom he intends to save. Predestination has been especially associated with John Calvin and the Reformed tradition.

This is a continuation from my post yesterday. It’s taken from a sermon given by our Pastor, my husband, explaining this difficult word.

This (coming to saving faith) will happen because of a call to faith, a call from the words of Scripture, the words of the Gospel, the Good News that Christ bore their punishment and they could then experience eternal joy. And the Holy Spirit, God Himself, opens the hearts of those who are predestined to believe the Gospel, to know that Christ did indeed die for them and that He was raised for them. What a wonderful thing it is to have God bring us to such understanding! If you have faith in Christ, you didn’t do it on your own, you didn’t work it out by yourself– no indeed, you received it from God and in receiving it you were justified, made right with God, no longer estranged, but now embraced as an adopted child and heir.

Even more than that, you have been glorified. In a tiny little way, we experience the glory that will be ours in heaven when we come into contact with God, when we experience His grace, when we feel His presence, whe we trust in Christ alone. What a glory that is, but that will pale in comparison to what God has waiting for us in eternity. Many have gone before us, but there is still room for us and for all those whom He is calling today around the world, and for those whom He has predestined before Christ’s return. What a wonderful and awesome thing to be chosen by the living God for eternal life.

For more on salvation see:

Predestination?

The True Cost of Salvation

Saved by Grace

Who were (are?) the Puritans?

Most Americans know little to nothing about who the Puritans were and what they taught….and a major part of what people do know is wrong!  Puritanism was nothing more or less than an English expression of the doctrines of the Reformation as formulated by Luther and his associates and other Reformed figures such as Calvin, Bucer and Zwingli.

For Lutherans it is interesting to compare Puritan thought with Lutheran Pietism–a movement which has profoundly affected Lutheranism in the United States.  The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations has its background in that Pietist movement brought here in the 18th and 19th centuries by immigrants.  When we look at the two movements (Puritanism and Pietism) we can see the relationship is not just between two past movements, but has to do with what we believe, teach and confess today at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Leitersburg.

Both Puritans and the Pietists sought to teach and experience a faith that was truly guiding their lives, the kind of faith we say we desire today.

If you are interested in learning more about the Puritans, my husband, Pastor Terry Culler, will be teaching a continuing education class through Shepherd University via Zoom.  The class will begin on Wednesday, March 17 from 3:30PM-5PM and will continue for 6 weeks at the same day and time.  To learn more follow the link below:

Shepherd University | Lifelonglearning

You can also contact Pastor Culler at St. Paul’s at 301-739-5443 or email him at freelutherans@myactv.net.

For other posts about the Puritans see:

Heaven is a World of Love by Jonathan Edwards — Book Review

An Introduction to John Owen by Crawford Gribben–Book Review

Beyond Stateliest Marble by Douglas Wilson — Book Review

For more on pietism see:

What is Pietism?

Lutheran Pietism

 

 

The Gift of Wisdom Part 3

Some people have a spiritual gift of Wisdom. This gift is such that they have inhaled the Word breathed out by God and can use it to direct and assist others in their spiritual lives. All of God’s people have gifts, gifts which differ from person to person. This is only one of them. But it is important for us to be able to recognize such people for they are folks to whom the rest of us should cling tightly. I know I’ve known several people with the gift of wisdom and their advice and counsel has made my life better. Those who can use God’s Word to bring righteousness into the lives of others are a true gift to the Church.

Most of us, however, do not have this particular and special spiritual gift of wisdom. But that does not mean that we cannot become wise in a biblical sense. There really is no excuse for the people of God not to live wisely before the world; for all that we need to do so is right in front of us, it’s no great secret requiring special learning or greater than usual brain power. That was the heresy of the Gnostics. Rather it’s right here in front of us, right here in the Bible. We don’t have to devise a new way of life or seek out some guru on a mountain top. We don’t have to attend college or get some self help book off a shelf. We won’t find out how to live wisely on television. We will find it here in the Word of God that David so praised. Pick up your Bibles and read, that’s it.

We will sometimes hear someone referred to as a theologian and we think of a specially trained individual who has deep knowledge in the ways of God. But that’s not necessarily true. Theology simply means the study of God, and it is a study in which each and every one of us can engage. All of God’s people are, or at least ought to be, theologians. We ought to be people who dedicate our lives to studying what has been revealed to us about the nature of God and about His will for us on this side of eternity.

One of the great gifts handed down to us by the Reformers such as Luther and Calvin is the concept of the priesthood of all believers. The Reformers didn’t make this doctrine up, but they recovered it after centuries in which the concept had receded and the idea that a special group of people called priests were necessary for salvation had grown. Simply put, the priesthood of all believers means that you and I do not need someone else to bring us into relationship with God, Christ has already accomplished that at Calvary We can go directly to Him because He has come directly to us through the Holy Spirit who indwells us even as we indwell Christ. The chosen people of God need neither priest nor saint in heaven to intercede for us for Christ does all the intercession necessary.

But the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, like all benefits from above, requires something from us—it requires that we be diligent both in seeking wisdom and in living wisely based upon that hagia sophia, that Holy Wisdom that comes down from above and makes us to be full and living witnesses of the truth that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father unto all eternity.

False Teaching

I would like to hear what others think about how to identify false teaching.  What are your thoughts on this Lutheran ladies and readers?  Do you agree with John Calvin that it’s easy to identify?  Please post and comment with your thoughts.

Prayer for the Growth of the Church

This prayer comes from the book Prayers of the Reformers compiled by Clyde Manschreck.  It was written by John Calvin.

“Grant, almighty God, since thou dost try the faith of thy people by many tests that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of thy Holy Spirit.  May we constantly march under thy standard, even to the end, and never succumb to any temptation.  May we join intelligence with zeal in building up thy church.  As each of us is endowed with superior gifts so may he strive for the edification of his brethren with greater boldness, manliness and fervor, while he endeavors to add numbers to the cause.  And should the number diminish, yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it, and such fruitfulness arise as shall cause thy name to be glorified throughout the world, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

A Quote from John Calvin

It was true in the garden, and true for believers today.