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C. F. W. Walther’s Explanation of Predestination

The idea of predestination can be difficult to understand. Are Christians truly saved simply by Baptism and belief in Christ, or is there human effort that is needed? Are Christians predestined to salvation? Read C. F. W. Walther’s explanation on the topic of predestination below to learn more.

If you by God’s grace are already in the true faith, then let me further ask you the question: Did you give yourself this faith? You will answer: No, indeed: I could not have done the least towards this that I have through the Word of the Gospel obtained a living faith, and I did not come to the Word, but the Word came to me. Very well! But do you think, perhaps, that you have thus only accidentally come to faith? You will undoubtedly answer here: No, indeed: if I thought this, I would certainly be a mere heathen for nothing takes place by chance.

All right, now let me ask you again: Whom are you consequently to thank for it, that you have come to faith by the Word of God? You will say: For this I must thank the mercy of God and the most holy merits of Jesus Christ alone, altogether. It was God who opened my stubborn heart. Really, I have in no way deserved this! My conversion is a mystery to myself; only so much do I know that I have done nothing towards it.

Then let me only ask you another question: Do you also hope to be saved? You answer: Yes, I hope so. If I did not have this hope, I would have to reject Luther’s Christian Questions. I could not even repeat with the entire Holy Christian Church in the true faith the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed “I believe … in the life everlasting,” and could not say with our catechism: “I believe that God will give unto ME and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.” And my dear Lord Jesus Christ says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27–28). How could I then doubt in my salvation?

Just so, dear reader! Behold, here you have in a very few words, as in a summary, the entire doctrine of election. Do not permit anything to lead you to err from this faith! Let those contend about election and its mysteries, who cannot let it alone or must do so on account of their call in defending the truth. But as to you, hold fast to the short text, in which God, the Lord, Himself says: “He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against Me, against your helper” (Hosea 13:9). From this golden text, do not depart either to the right or to the left; you will then walk upon the right path, and at the end of this your path of faith you will find eternal salvation.

Whoever is elected is, according to God’s Word and our Confession, not elected in consequence of this that God foresaw that he would conduct himself properly, allow himself to be brought into the order of grace, namely, that he would allow faith to be wrought in him, or even that he would determine himself to believe … and by his cooperation work faith in himself; but because God out of pure mercy has on Christ’s account “ordained” to bring him to faith, to preserve him in faith to the end … to give him eternal life. The elect have, therefore, done nothing themselves whatever to their election, and can not attribute to themselves anything … pertaining to the work of their salvation. Dear reader, observe this well! For only then when you make the mercy of God and the merits of Christ alone the cause of your election unto childhood in God and salvation, will you give God alone, and entirely, and fully the glory of your salvation. 

Reading adapted from C. F. W. Walther. PredestinationWalther’s Works. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.

Predestination was meant to be a great comfort to the children of God. 

Read Walther’s commentary on this tricky subject.


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