Reflections on Sermon 58: “On Predestination”

Reflections on Sermon 58: “On Predestination”

"Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son: — Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. And whom he called, then he also justified: And whom he justified, then he also glorified." —Romans 8:29-30.

“On Predestination” may seem to have less obvious devotional appeal than any of John Wesley’s many other published sermons. However, if we can begin to fathom the eternal glory for which Wesley says God has predestined us, we will be glad we bothered to wade into these deep waters.

When my wife or daughters tell me a story that starts with someone’s life being in jeopardy or something of similar urgency, I can feel my blood pressure rise as I wait for the resolution to find out if everything is okay. I think they secretly enjoy getting my attention by dragging the story out as long as possible before letting me know how it ends. I can’t stand it, but I plan to do the same to you in this devotional. The saving grace for you is that you can skip right to the end. But what fun would that be?

Yes, John Wesley preached a sermon on predestination.

Yes, John Wesley professed to believe in predestination (how’s your blood pressure?).

Yes, Wesley says in this sermon that all who truly believe do so by “virtue of the unchangeable, irreversible, irresistible decree of God.” What do we make of this?

What is this unchangeable, irreversible, irresistible decree of God that governs who is saved and who is not? “He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Wesley explains in his tract, “What is an Arminian?” that while Calvinists believe in absolute predestination, Arminians, like Wesley, believe in conditional predestination. In essence, Wesley taught that God predestines everyone to take “them to glory,” but not everyone cooperates with their destiny. Wesley asserted in his discussion of Romans 8:29-30 (the text for this sermon) that Paul did not intend his list to be taken in the sense of automatic cause and effect but instead as an ordering of the phases of salvation, each one of which is entered into by a free exercise of faith.

"What is it, then, that we learn from this whole account? It is this, and no more: —

1. God knows all believers;

2. wills that they should be saved from sin;

3. to that end, justifies them,

4. sanctifies, and

5. takes them to glory."

“O that men would praise the Lord for this his goodness; and that they would be content with this plain account of it, and not endeavor to wade into those mysteries which are too deep for angels to fathom!”

Scott Sherwood is the district superintendent of the Northwestern Illinois District Church of the Nazarene.

To read the full text of the sermon, click here.

Written for Coffee Break