doctrineofelection

Perhaps I got your attention with the word “election.” Maybe you thought this would be about the upcoming November 8th election. Sorry. This is about the theological term election. 

But to be completely transparent, it is about election and evangelism. There is a line of thought that says, "Since God has elected people to salvation, why evangelize? They've already been predestined to eternal life. God will see to it that they get there." Lutheran theological wisdom has said that the doctrine of election should be used only to comfort Christians who might have doubts about their own salvation. It dare not be used to speculate about the eternal destiny of another person, or get bogged down with the notion that if God has predestined some to heaven, He therefore has also predestined some to Hell. If one confesses with his/her mouth and believes in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, let that be enough to assure the troubled heart that he/she is among the elect (Peter urges his readers to confirm their election by godly conduct (2 Peter 1:10)).

The doctrine of election can be a comfort with regard to the task of evangelism, too. Luke writes in Acts 13:48 about the results of Paul's preaching that "all who were appointed to eternal life believed." That is all any preacher, any evangelist, any lay person needs to know. All who are appointed to eternal life will believe the spoken Word. None will be lost. The doctrine is misused if a Christian reasons that since God elects someone to eternal life, the Christian doesn't need to evangelize. God will see to it that those whom He has elected to eternal life will hear the Gospel somehow, somewhere in this life, and believe. In one sense, such a statement is true. God's arm will not be shortened by a Christian's silence. A Christian dare never make another Christian feel guilty by saying, "Your silence may result in that person winding up in Hell." Not so! Not one person whom God has elected will be lost through someone's silence. God's purposes can never be thwarted by humans. He has plenty of people who will speak the Word of Truth if some won't. Silence won't result in someone being sent to Hell; it will result in a lost opportunity that the Christian had to serve the Gospel. So be comforted that those who are appointed to eternal life will believe and be saved as they hear the Gospel, perhaps as they hear it from you. Be comforted that as you bear witness to Christ, any who are among the elect ultimately will hear and believe the Word, even if you can't preach it like Paul.