Election and the Christian Life

The doctrine of election is not primarily the abstruse, difficult article of faith that most Christians – indeed, most theologians – are intimidated by (at best). Rather, in the Scriptures it is given as a source of confidence for the Christian, and a foundation of the Christian life.

Like this:

… we must always take as one unit the entire doctrine of God’s purpose, counsel, will, and ordinance concerning our redemption, call, justification, and salvation, as Paul treats and explains this article (Rom. 8:28ff.; Eph. 1:4ff.) and as Christ likewise does in the parable (Matt. 20:2–14), namely, that in his purpose and counsel God had ordained the following:

1. That through Christ the human race has truly been redeemed and reconciled with God and that by his innocent obedience, suffering, and death Christ has earned for us “the righteousness which avails before God”2 and eternal life.

2. That this merit and these benefits of Christ are to be offered, given, and distributed to us through his Word and sacraments.

3. That he would be effective and active in us by his Holy Spirit through the Word when it is preached, heard, and meditated on, would convert hearts to true repentance, and would enlighten them in the true faith.

4. That he would justify and graciously accept into the adoption of children and into the inheritance of eternal life all who in sincere repentance and true faith accept Christ.

5. That he also would sanctify in love all who are thus justified, as St. Paul says (Eph. 1:4).

6. That he also would protect them in their great weakness against the devil, the world, and the flesh, guide and lead them in his ways, raise them up again when they stumble, and comfort and preserve them in tribulation and temptation.

7. That he would also strengthen and increase in them the good work which he has begun, and preserve them unto the end, if they cling to God’s Word, pray diligently, persevere in the grace of God, and use faithfully the gifts they have received.

8. That, finally, he would eternally save and glorify in eternal life those whom he has elected, called, and justified.

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 619.

Divine monergism in salvation leads to synergism in good works

When the Holy Spirit has worked and accomplished this, and a person’s will has been changed and renewed by His divine power and working alone, then the new will of that person is an instrument and organ of God the Holy Spirit. So that person not only accepts grace, but he also co-operates with the Holy Spirit in the works that follow.

From the Formula of Concord, Epitome II.18.

That lovely phrase, “the new will of that person is an instrument and organ of God the Holy Spirit” wonderfully sums up the relationship between the work of the Holy Spirit and the regenerate will of the believer.

This is why St. Paul was able to write to the Romans, “… be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom 12:2 ESV). In other words, be what you have been made, and become what you are.

The world just changed — did you notice?

Not very long ago, the Book of Concord was published in Swahili. This is one of the most significant positive developments in the recent church history.

Bet you didn’t know about it!

Read about it here (make sure you watch the slideshow at the bottom of the page: watch the clergy and laity queue up for their copy!).

And listen to an interview of the editor-in-chief here, Lutheran Radio UK (the episodes for 5 and 12 November) for the background, history and significance of the project.

Swahili is one of the major languages of the world, spoken by more people than German. There are millions of Lutherans in Africa, including several million who speak Swahili. This is truly historic.

And do spread the word.