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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotional: November 2, 2022

Now the word of the lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Here the Lord reveals a marvelous truth and an inscrutable mystery about Himself. That he both knows us and sets us apart as his holy ones even before we exist. Before he calls our body and soul into existence through the agency of our parents, the Lord has already called us by name. Has already determined within himself to bestow his gracious favor upon us. Before the foundation of the world, he elects us to salvation by an entirely free expression of his divine will. The initiative belongs completely to him. In love, he predestines us…but not according to a love that sees something in us that is worth loving, but according to a love that begins entirely within himself. Here, the Lord reminds us that, as Luther once said, “God’s love does not find, but creates that which is pleasing to it.”[1]

Yet, though our election for salvation occurs within the hidden and secret counsel of God—here we see that the Lord wishes to comfort us by making our election certain through his word. Thus, even though his election of Jeremiah has occurred in eternity past, the Lord confirms his election here in the present. He speaks this wonderful promise so that his young and timid prophet might be assured of God’s grace, that his faith might not fail, and that he might be strengthened in hope to endure the fiery trials that would come upon God’s weeping prophet.

Likewise, God leads us by his word to the source of our confirmation and comfort—who is Christ. Accordingly, we hear in the Gospels that Christ came not to condemn the world, but to offer himself as a ransom for all. Christ takes what has been hidden within the mind of God, our election for salvation, and proclaims it to us through his promises. Through the promises of Christ, we gain the present assurance that “we have been chosen for eternal life in Christ out of sheer grace, without any merit of our own, and that no one can tear us out of his hand.” [2]

As if this were not enough, Christ additionally confirms his promises and our calling with visible signs. In the Sacraments, we experience the assurance of our election, we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit, we hear the promise of grace that says “given and shed for you.” Christ gives himself to us through these gifts so that “in the midst of our greatest trials we can remind ourselves of them, comfort ourselves with them, and thereby quench the fiery darts of the devil.”[3]

Though the mystery of God’s election is inscrutable and hidden from our understanding, the assurance of our election is not. It comes to us as Word and Sacrament—as promises that we have obtained peace with God through faith in Christ Jesus.

How unsearchable are the hidden ways of God. How precious are the promises that make our calling sure.

[1] Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 28.

[2-3] The Formula of Concord: Epitome, Article 11.13

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