Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | August 23, 2010

Formula of Concord, Article XI: God’s Eternal Election

Beginning later this year (Fall 2010, September), St. Mark Lutheran Church will undertake a study of the doctrine of God’s eternal foreknowledge and election based on the Formula of Concord’s 11th Article.  Over the next few weeks, leading up to that study, we will present the article from the Solid Declaration (the long version).

89 Furthermore, this teaching gives no one a cause either for despair or for a shameless, loose life. By this teaching, people are taught that they must seek eternal election in Christ and His Holy Gospel, as in the Book of Life. This excludes no penitent sinner, but beckons and calls all poor, heavy-laden, and troubled sinners to repentance and the knowledge of their sins. It calls them to faith in Christ and promises the Holy Spirit for purification and renewal. 90 It gives the most enduring consolation to all troubled, afflicted people, so that they know their salvation is not placed in their own hands. Otherwise they would lose their salvation much more easily than was the case with Adam and Eve in Paradise, yes, every hour and moment. But salvation is in God’s gracious election, which He has revealed to us in Christ, out of whose hand no person shall snatch us (John 10:28; 2 Timothy 2:19).

91 If anyone presents the teaching about God’s gracious election in such a way that troubled Christians cannot get comfort out of it, but are pushed to despair; or if anyone teaches it so that the impenitent are confirmed in their sinfulness, then it is undoubtedly sure and true that such a doctrine is not taught according to God’s Word and will. It is taught according to ‹human› reason and the instigation of the devil.

92 For, as the apostle testifies:

Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

But when this consolation and hope are weakened or entirely removed by Scripture, it is certain that it is understood and explained contrary to the Holy Spirit’s will and meaning.

93 This simple, correct, useful explanation has a firm and good foundation in God’s revealed will. We abide by it. We flee from, and shun, all lofty, difficult questions and disputes. We reject and condemn whatever is contrary to these simple, useful explanations.

[CONCLUSION OF THE CONTROVERSIAL ARTICLES]

94 So much for the controversial articles that have been discussed for many years among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession. Some have erred and severe controversies, that is, religious disputes, have arisen in these articles.

95 From our explanation, friends and enemies and, therefore, everyone, may clearly see that we have no intention of yielding any part of God’s eternal, immutable truth for the sake of temporal peace, tranquility, and unity (which is not in our power to do anyway). Such peace and unity would have no permanence, since it is devised against the truth and for its suppression. We are even less willing to adorn and conceal a corruption of the pure doctrine and clear, condemned errors. 96 We do yearn with heartfelt pleasure and love for unity. On our part, we are sincerely willing and anxious to advance that unity (according to our utmost power) by which God’s glory remains unharmed. We willingly advance unity where nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, and poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ.

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