Proper 14 (2)

Season after Pentecost  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:54
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Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Whenever faith clings to the promises of God, doubt is always lingering in the back of our mind, constantly asking the serpent’s question in the garden, “Did God really say?” How striking to think that we must have faith in God before we can doubt him!
Today's readings feature believers who have faith in God and his abilities to save them but doubted when his plans failed to match theirs. In each case, it is adversity that fights against faith and allows doubt to rear its ugly head. And in each case, the true answer to doubt is not found in the great miracle that removes adversity but in the still, small voice of our Savior whispering in his Word.
Today we hear our Him ask us, “Why did you doubt?” and we see that the Christian answers doubt with faith. The trials we face in this sinful world can terrify us like like the disciples, or frustrate us like Elijah. When we forget who was on our side, we can despair. Consider how despondent the children of Israel were when they stood before the Red Sea during the exodus from Egypt. Faith had led them to follow Moses and the pillar of cloud and fire into the desert. However, with the sea in front of them and a great army behind them, faith fled, and doubt reigned. Adversity made them forget the God of the Passover.
Moses came with words so fitting for doubting hearts in the face of adversity: “You need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). As the psalmist said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God's plans will prevail! The very water the Israelites thought was preventing their escape would in fact be the cause of their deliverance. The very army they thought would destroy them would in fact be destroyed.
We face many trial and tribulations in which the doctrine of predestination from our Epistle Reading delivers to us unbelievable comfort and consolation. It gives us Christians — God’s holy people — joy and confidence in a world full of fear and despair.

It is based on the Goodness of God (Rom 8:28, 29)

In everything that happens God works for our good. He even uses the sufferings in our life for our good.
The good news for the Christian is that you have been “Called” which is the source of our being converted.
St. Paul amplifies “according to His purpose” in 2 Tim. 1:9
2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
His foreknowing us is an eternal act of God's will, by which He chose us so that we might “be conformed to the image of His Son.”

It is worked out in the golden chain of God's activities.

This election by grace, which is based solely on God's decree in eternity, takes place before faith and is not dependent on man's action in any way. It is, therefore, a source of great comfort to Christians.
Eternal election or predestination always deals with definite persons and individuals.
Foreknowledge is an act of God in eternity. It deals with people who were not yet living but existed only in His plan.
Foreknowledge and predestination describe the same eternal decree of God from different points of view. Foreknowledge sees it from God's perspective; predestination refers to the goal or purpose of God's decree, which is to conform us to the image of His Son.
“Image of His Son”-Christ has a glorified body; every Christian should also bear the image of the heavenly Man:
1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:49 NKJV
And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
“Firstborn among many brethren”-Christ has entered into glory. He does not remain alone but is the first fruits and, as Pioneer of our salvation, leads many to glory with Him (1 Cor. 15:23; Rev. 14:4; Heb.2:10).
“Justified”-with the call and conversion justification is granted. This means that when He made us believers, He forgave all our sins and declared us innocent:
Romans 5:1 NKJV
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Corinthians 6:11 NKJV
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
“Glorified”-to those whom He called He gives the glory of heaven. We do not enjoy it yet, but we have it (cf.Rom.8:24).

This Doctrine Is For Our Comfort and Consolation.

Predestination is God's election, which, in turn, is based on the merits of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in you that is responsible for his election. There is no election in view of faith or in view of merit. Therefore, election is dependent on the gracious God and not on fragile and undependable man.
There is no cause for worry or concern to the Christian who lives within the love of God as manifested by his conversion and God's continued blessings.
The knowledge of our predestination and election gives great comfort to the Christian. We are made aware of the great glory of the grace of God. We have a constant motivation to devote all our life to the good works that are fruits of justification.
The trials and tribulations of this life are properly seen in their true light and accepted patiently and submissively. (For an example see the story of Joseph, Gen. 50:20.) And finally, we have the absolute assurance of a blessed and completed salvation.
St. Paul's words today remind us of what Peter should have known when Jesus commanded him to join him on the lake. It also reminds us of what Elijah should have known.
Finally, today’s Epistle reading reminds us of what we should know. The troubles had seemed to afflict us are, in fact, part of the plan for the glory of God and the salvation of man. It is only through be benefit of hindsight that we recognize the grace of God's hand in our lives. And we hear the gentle whisper of our Savior, “Why did you doubt?”
God promises but in the midst of the storms of life, we can listen and also hear his gentle whisper. “It is I. Do not be afraid.” When we hear his voice, the waves of doubt recede and faith finds its place again, making us once more sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Friends, you are Predestined!
You are Called!
You are Justified!
And soon You will be Glorified with Jesus!
These facts give us comfort and confidence, though we suffer much in this world. As Christians trust that nothing can separate us from the love of God. In his Providence, God provides for us; in his love, God protects us.
Though we are considered sheep for the slaughter by the world, we know that in the hand of our God we are more than conquerors, inseparable from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No earthly powers, no spiritual forces, nothing in our past or future has the power to remove us from the care of our God. If we know God has given us Christ, our doubts can be silenced. God is, undoubtable, for us.
“Be still my soul, the Lord is on your side...”
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