Archive for January 2011

Chapel Sermon at the International Center Concerning Predestination

Ephesians 1:3-14; Responsive Prayer 2; LSB 686

Pastor Collver

4 January 2011

I.N.I.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Do you remember waiting to hear your name called in school or on the playground to participate in an important event or to play on a team or in a game? Do you remember the agony of waiting to hear your name called? Do you remember the comfort and relief you felt when you heard, “I pick him.” “She was chosen to…” Imagine going to high school or college graduation not knowing if you would receive a diploma, but waiting in the audience to hear if your name would be called. As bad as these sorts of uncertainties are in our lives, how much worse it is to wonder and doubt if God has chosen you… how much worse to wonder if you are elect. Friends in Christ, your heavenly does not want you to be in doubt of your salvation. He wants you to have the comfort of knowing that he has called you by name in Holy Baptism. He wants you to know that you have been called, chosen, and elected from the foundation of the world to be his child.

The appointed text for today deals with the doctrine of Predestination. It seems that many people regard the topic of Predestination as mysterious, complicated, and perhaps frightening. Yet our Lord and Savior Jesus himself teaches about predestination in the Gospels, particularly when he said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16) In today’s reading, St. Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus, “he chose you before the foundation of the world … in love he predestined us.” The teaching about Predestination is intended for our instruction and for our comfort as Christians. It is, as Dr. Walther, the founder of the Missouri Synod said, “the golden thread that runs throughout the Scriptures.”

Now I suspect that you have rarely or perhaps never heard a sermon about Predestination. When the people of God do not hear about the blessed doctrine of Predestination they are denied a couple of important truths. First, not hearing about the doctrine of Predestination creates the opportunity for our sinful flesh to arise and convince us that we somehow contributed to our salvation or chose to follow Jesus. As Jesus himself clearly told his disciples, “You did not choose me.” Yet we as sinful human beings, and particularly Americans who believe our destiny belongs to us, we do not like being confronted with the reality that we do not have free will in matters related to God. We do not have the free will to choose to follow Jesus. This teaching strikes against our pride and offends our reason. We want to think we can follow Jesus, rather than recognizing we are “lost and condemned creatures” who are dead in our sins. When you feel that you are more righteous or holy than another person, or when you think you are more deserving than another person, know that these thoughts are not from the Holy Spirit. Repent and seek forgiveness from your Savior.

Second, not hearing about the doctrine of Predestination denies us of the tremendous comfort our Lord Jesus wants us to have in Him. Listen to the text again, “he chose us before the foundation of the world.” In eternity, before the Lord God created the heavens and the earth through His Almighty Word, your heavenly father chose you. This is the ultimate indicator that we did nothing to contribute to our salvation. Before the heavens and the earth existed, before there were atoms, molecules, or cells from which to form your body, the Lord God chose you. This, my friends, is pure, undeserved grace. Your heavenly Father chose you in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. In your Baptism, the Lord God put His Name upon you and made you His own.

There are many things in our lives that can make us doubt whether or not we have the favor of God. Perhaps, things are not unfolding in your life as you would hope. Perhaps, your life is riddled with sin and loneliness. You may be facing hardships and difficulties and wonder why you are afflicted with such things. Know that your Lord even predestined the sufferings and crosses in your life so that you may be conformed into the image of the crucified Son of God. Your Lord has promised to work all things for your good. In fact, even your hardships and sufferings are turned into a blessing for your ultimate good. You see, your Lord does not want you to doubt that he has chosen you when you face hardships. Know that He chose you and chose your sufferings for you so that nothing can ever take you from His hand.

When you face suffering in this life and doubt about the favor the Lord has for you, seek comfort in the cross of Jesus. Seek comfort in the forgiveness of sins. Seek comfort in knowing that you are baptized and that the Lord has put his Holy Name upon you. Know that your heavenly Father has chosen you before the foundation of the world in Christ Jesus.

Unlike waiting on the schoolyard playground, wondering if you will be chosen, if your name will be called. Your Lord Jesus has called you by Name and given you His Holy Spirit as the down payment, the guarantee of your inheritance in the Lord’s kingdom. Now we wait, not to find out if the Lord has chosen us, but we wait to realize what He has already given us in Christ Jesus. Take comfort in the promises of your Lord and in the forgiveness of your sins. Take comfort in the election and calling of your heavenly Father through Jesus Christ his Son.

Go in peace.

Amen.

Walther’s Prayer, “Concerning Predestination,” Selected Sermons, CPH, 1981: 173.

“Lord Jesus, You Son of the living God. You have come into this world to save sinners. Thanks, praise, glory and honor be to You today, on the day of Your gracious and saving birth, that You not only came into the world to save us poor sinners, but also that You as the Good Shepherd followed us, who all like sheep have gone astray, called us to Yourself through the shepherd’s voice of Your sweet Gospel, brought us to faith in You, and also preserved us in the same until today. Oh, how in time and eternity can we sufficiently thank You for this? We did not seek You, but You sought us; we did not come to You, but You came to us. How have we deserved it that You had mercy upon us rather than millions of others? Ah, it is Your undeserved grace alone that we have to thank for this. You saw us lying in the blood of our sins, and behold, Your heart broke, and You said to us: ‘You shall live!’ Oh, Lord Jesus, You today once gave Yourself for us; today we give ourselves to You. Here is our heart. Take it, cleanse and adorn it for Yourself as Your dwelling and rule in it until our death. For this, with all angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, thrones and dominions, with all blessed and chosen ones, we will in heaven give You thanks, glory, praise, and honor through all eternity. Amen.”

† Rev. James Linderman, former Texas District President

Rev. James R. Linderman, former president of the LCMS Texas District, died Jan. 1 of lung cancer at his home in Austin, Texas.  He was 75.

The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Austin.  Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at Harrell Funeral Home, Austin.

As first vice-president of the Texas District, Rev. Linderman became the district’s president in 2001, filling the vacancy of Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, who was elected LCMS president.  Rev. Linderman served as district president until his retirement in 2006.

“He was a man who definitely loved his Lord, he loved his family so, and he loved his country,” said his wife of 52 years, Jean

He enjoyed playing golf, hunting, doing crossword puzzles, spending time at the family ranch and being with his family.

As the son of an oil driller, Rev. Linderman traveled with his parents throughout the southeast Texas and Louisiana oil fields during his youth.  When the family settled to farm and operate a ranch in west Texas, young Linderman attended a one-room school.  He later completed elementary and high school in Eola, Texas.

Rev. Linderman was a 1960 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and held a master’s degree from the University of Kansas in speech, communications and organization.

He also was a graduate of the Basic and the Career U.S. Army Chaplain Schools; attended the Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and studied Chinese and Russian history and politics at Long Island University.

Rev. Linderman served as assistant pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston (1960-62) before accepting a call to become an army chaplain.  His 25-year chaplaincy career included assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division, where he logged 57 parachute jumps, and with the Green Berets in Vietnam.  He also served chaplaincies in Germany and in Fort Hood, Texas.

He has received numerous awards and decorations, including two Legion of Merit medals, and U.S. and Vietnamese Senior Parachute Wings.

He retired from army chaplaincy in 1986 with the rank of colonel.  Following that, he served as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church, Athens, Texas (1986-90), and then as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Austin.  He retired from the ministry in 1998.

Rev. Linderman has been a member of numerous Texas District task forces, committees, commissions, boards and study groups.  He also served on the Board of Regents for Concordia University Texas, Austin, and more than six years as a member of the board of directors for Lutheran Social Services of the South, Austin.

He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Concordia University, Austin, in 2002, and was the first recipient of the school’s Beto Christian Leadership Award, presented in 2006.

In addition to his wife, Jean, Rev. Linderman is survived by two children — Lisa (John) Curlee of Georgetown, Texas, and Jeffery (Paula) Linderman of Austin; four grandchildren — Josh (Marisa) DeLong of Killeen, Texas; Justine DeLong of Schwertner, Texas; Kristin (Jerrod) Young of Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Quentin Curlee of Mustang, Okla.; and two great-grandchildren — Christian DeLong and Collin Young.

Memorials may be made to:

  • Linderman/Knippa Scholarship Fund, Concordia University Texas, 11400 Concordia University Drive, Austin TX 78726.
  • Lutheran Social Services of the South New Life Treatment Center, 8305 Cross Park Drive, Austin TX 78754.
  • Lutheran Foundation — Jim and Jean Linderman Endowment Fund, 7900 East Highway 290, Austin TX 78724.