Full Text for Dogmatics 2- Volume 87 - How do I know I'm elect? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CUENet AUDIO TRANSCRIPTION DOGMATICS 2 LESSON 87 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. 10 E. 22nd Street Suite 304 Lombard, IL 60148 800-825-5234 *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >> The doctrine of election doesn't seem very comforting. How do I know I'm elect? How does anyone know? >> DR. DAVID MAXWELL: Why doesn't it seem comforting, Josh? Let's think about that question for a movement. I think you're right. It's not that I disagree with you that it is certainly possible to be intimidated by the doctrine of election. But I think if we understand it correctly, it is, in fact, a comforting doctrine. But what makes it uncomfortable? The thing that makes it uncomfortable is that we really don't have access to God in all of his majesty, in all of his plans for the universe. So the natural question is: Well, you know, am I elect? What's going to happen to me? These kinds of questions. So let me start off by giving you some wrong ways to attempt to answer this question, to attempt to determine if you're elect. Here is a wrong way: You can determine if you're elect by whether or not you're successful in life. And, in fact, some people have adhered to this. I think that it's related to the Protestant work ethic, in fact, that would see success in life -- and by success I mean even financial success -- as an evidence that God is blessing you. And if God is blessing you, then he has chosen you. You're one of the elect. So looking at success in life would be the wrong place to look in Lutheran theology. Another wrong place that you could look to try and determine if you are elect is at your own experience of faith or your own feeling of peace or joy or something like that. Because quite frankly, feelings change. I mean, if you think of somebody who is undergoing depression, for example, it's not going to be very comforting to them if you tell them "Well, if you're elect you're going to have this feeling of peace and joy." Well, they are not going to be experiencing that. But that doesn't mean that God has abandoned them. It doesn't mean that God has decided to pass over them or something like this. So you can't look at success in life, you can't look at your transitory feelings, as evidence that God is elect. And neither can you look at your own good works as a foundation for your faith. Now, I realize we just got through talking about how good works are evidence of faith and that God will even cite good works as evidence of faith on Judgement Day. But that does not mean that good works provide an unshakeable foundation for the way that you stand before God. Especially when -- and we're talking about a case when somebody is undergoing the kind of anxiety that you're describing, Josh, where, you know, am I elect? Am I going to end up going to hell because I look at my life and I see that my works don't seem to be all that good. So how can I know that God has actually chosen me. And in such a case, you just can't depend on good works as an unshakeable foundation. So those are the wrong ways. Just -- and that list is not meant to be exhaustive, by the way. But just to give you some concrete examples of a wrong approach to try to answer your question. Now, the right way is to look at what God has actually revealed about his will towards you. And he reveals this will in the word and sacraments. For instance, in the large Catechism Luther uses baptism to get at the kind of question that you're asking. He says "I am baptized. And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I will be saved, body and soul." So baptism is God choosing you. Now, I mean obviously baptism isn't from the foundation of the world. But if God is baptizing you, he is working his salvation. So you can use your baptism as evidence that God has elected you. The Lord's Supper, the same way. If I have eaten the body and blood of Christ and that is the same body and blood that death could not hold, that burst from the tomb on the third day, then my body, too, will rise on the last day. And that also would be evidence that God has elected me. Preaching and absolution, also. When the Holy Spirit takes the merits of Christ and gives them to us in preaching and absolution, that is ultimately related to God's eternal election from us. He chose us and this is how he brings his will about is through the word and the sacraments. *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***