This is a paper prepared, though not delivered, for the annual Augustana District Theologcial Conference. Instead, a version of the paper from the Jekyll Island Theological Conference was delivered so that Luther's understanding of predestination and election could be covered.
Jekyll Island, Georgia Theological Conference 2017: "Your Vocation and Christ's Mission"
Christ’s mission is to remove us from our obsession with virtue, morality, good works, and the law. Christ has come into this old world, Emmanuel, and remains to Gospel sinners who feel they are anything but, or at least not as bad as the next guy. Christ is coming to create faith where there is none, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)
One of the key tools in biblical interpretation is, first, to be able to hear the distinction of scripture’s own division of law and gospel (“For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17) and, second, to hear what these two words do to those who hear when they are proclaimed (“The Letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” 2 Corinthians 3:6).
There seems to be a lot of confusion in the world as to the understanding of salvation; how is it that we are saved? Is it by faith alone, by God’s grace alone, in Christ alone or do I have to at least accept the gift of grace? Does God really not leave me any freedom to choose? Must I rely solely on His free election of sinners? Then how can anyone, how can I be certain that I am saved? Here is a short story to illustrate the confusion. The setting is late 19th century Sweden, and a conversation between a young Swedish pastoral intern named Fridfelt and his supervising pastor, the rector.
If I have a difficult time making these kinds of decisions in the mundane things of life, as I am sure you do from time to time in a variety of scenarios, how is it that I could possibly bear the burden of making a decision for Jesus Christ in matters of my eternal salvation?
There are two false assumptions in decision theology. Fortunately, for you and I, God has found away to break through our erring assumptions with an unthwartable word of promise. First, however, we must take a good look at the false assumptions we put upon Scripture.