Thursday, December 5, 2013

God Provides the Means, and Most Despise It

The Holy Spirit wishes certainly to be present with the Word preached, heard, considered, and to be efficacious and operate through it.… Moreover, even as God has ordained in His counsel that the Holy Spirit should call, enlighten, and convert the elect through the Word, and that He will justify and save all those who by true faith receive Christ, so He also determined in His counsel that He will harden, reprobate, and condemn those who are called through the Word, if they reject the Word and resist the Holy Spirit, who wishes to be efficacious and to work in them through the Word and persevere therein.  And in this manner “many are called, but few are chosen.”

For few receive the Word and follow it.  The greatest number despise the Word and will not come to the wedding (Matt 22:3-6).  The cause for this contempt for the Word is not God's foreknowledge, but the perverse will of man, which rejects or perverts the means and instrument of the Holy Spirit, which God offers him through the call, and resists the Holy Spirit, who wishes to be efficacious, and works through the Word, as Christ says:
How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!  (Matt 23:37)
Thus many receive the Word with joy, but afterwards fall away again (Luke 8:13).  The reason is not as though God was unwilling to grant grace for perseverance….  The reason is that they willfully turn away again from the holy commandment, grieve and embitter the Holy Spirit, implicate themselves again in the filth of the world, and garnish again the habitation of the heart for the devil.  With them the last state is worse than the first (2 Pet 2:10, 20; Eph 4:30; Heb 10:26; Luke 11:25).

Formula of Concord XI, 39-42

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