No Do-Over
St. Mary Magdalene
22 July 2019
What if you could have one child and only one child? Would you plan to have that child, your only child, and would you plan to send that child to people that hated both you and him, with the full knowledge that those who hated you would reject, abuse, torture, and put to death that child in repayment for his kindness and yours. Would you do that? Would you plan such a thing? Would you carry out that plan? I won't speak for you, but I would not. Yet that is exactly what God our heavenly Father did, planning from eternity to send His only and precious Son into the world to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and they killed Him (Mk 9:31). All this He knew from eternity. The Bible describes Christ, God's Son, as being the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). So firmly is God's heart set on saving us through the death of His only Son, that the plan appears in His mind as already complete. Though He was yet to die, the Father sees His Son nailed to the cross of the sins of the world. You don't get much more complete than that.
We often struggle to believe that God could ever be that compassionate toward us, that mind-bogglingly gracious. We doubt that we could ever live up to the size of that compassion. But that is just the point. That is why that compassion is shown to us in Christ, because we could never ever live up to it. It must be offered as a gift. This gives us a hint as to why God refused to press the reset button of the world after the fall of Adam and Eve. No "do-over" was possible. He gave them life as a gift and planned to restore that life in the person of His Son as a gift. A gift that is taken back by the giver wasn't a gift in the first place. A gift is never earned, merited, or returned to sender by those for whom it is intended. Generosity knows no such boundaries. This is especially the case with God's gifts. We are on the receiving end of such things.
When God foreknew me in Christ before the foundation of the world, He planned my salvation personally. How do I know this? It's very simple. I know it, because God carried out that plan in the incarnation, birth, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His only Son. We know what God's plan was because God has fulfilled that plan for our lives in the passion of the Christ. God's actions reveal the gracious depth of His heart and mind to me. When it comes to saving us, God never merely thinks about us. He always thinks about us with intention action. So when he speaks, He speaks action words. In God there is no distinction between His will for our salvation and His action. That distinction between will and action is one of the characteristics of our sinful depravity, as St. Paul says, "I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing" (Rm 7:19). I don't know how many times I have heard people say a variation of this, "I would really like to be in church pastor, but I just find it hard to get out of bed on Sunday." Yes, yes, I know. But God never sleeps in. He neither slumbers nor sleeps. What He wills, He says. And what He says happens. This is how God is God-for-us.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Hilary of Poitiers
"The nature of Christ needed no change, or question, or answer, that it should advance from ignorance to knowledge, or ask of one who had continued in silence, and wait to receive His answer: but, abiding perfectly in mysterious unity with Him, it received of God its whole being as it derived from Him its origin. And, further, it received all that belonged to the whole being of God, namely, His knowledge and His will. What the Father knows, the Son does not learn by question and answer; what the Father wills, the Son does not will by command. Since all that the Father has is His, it is the property of His nature to will and know, exactly as the Father wills and knows. But to prove His birth He often expounds the doctrine of his person, as when He says, 'I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me' (Jn 6:38). He does the Father's will, not His own, and by the will of Him who sent Me, He means His Father. But that He Himself wills the same, is unmistakably declared in the words, 'Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am' (Jn 17:24). The Father wills that we should be with Christ, in whom, according to the Apostle, He chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), and the Son wills the same, namely that we should be with Him. His will is, therefore, the same in nature as the Father's will, though to make plain the fact of the birth it is distinguished from the Father's."

HilaryOn the Trinity, 9.75
Ephesians 1:3-14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee
of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (ESV)
Almighty God, from eternity You planned my soul's salvation, even before the blight of sin that demanded so drastic a remedy. Send Your Holy Spirit that I might repose in that faith and life. Amen.
For Martin Hill, the Vicar of Memorial Lutheran Church, that Jesus, the Lord of the church, would be with him as takes up his work
For all those suffering the ravages of cancer, that they might trust in Christ
For all who are traveling, that they would be kept safe in their travels
Art: PITTONI, Giambattista The Penitent Magdalene (c. 1740)

Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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