The Lord Graciously Chose Us to be his Own

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will endure, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. (John 15:16– EHV)

Lord, ’tis not that I did choose you; That, I know, could never be,

For this heart would still refuse you Had your grace not chosen me.

“Lord, ‘Tis Not that I Did Choose You” —CW 380 (Stanza 1, Verses 1-2)

Keeping with our theme from last week—on how a good hymn teaches the faith, today we take a look at another hymn we recently sung. Last Sunday we sang “Lord, ‘Tis Not that I Did Choose You” as our sermon hymn (the hymn after the sermon). The first line of this hymn is undoubtingly based on John 15:16 above, where Jesus tells his disciples, that they did not choose him, but he chose them. Just as he chose us to be his own through faith in him and thus be saved (Ephesians 1:3-14).

How do we know that Jesus had to choose us and that we cannot chose to believe? Because we are born as spiritually dead—unable to do anything spiritually in anyway (Ephesians 2:1-2), and as enemies of God (Romans 8:7). To our sinful mind the gospel is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18) and by nature we are unable to understand it (1 Corinthians 2:14). If the choice was up to us, we would never believe (as the hymn says, “That, I know, could never be, for this heart would still refuse you”). In our sinful nature, we would never choose to believe in our enemy, whose word is foolishness because we are unable to understand it! If the choice was up to us, we wouldn’t be believers and we would never receive God’s grace. And because we are so corrupt by nature, we know that we can’t even make a beginning to come to Christ, accept him into our hearts, or make the decision for Christ.

So how is it that we believe? By the grace of God (“Had your grace not chosen me”)! Only by the grace of God do we believe at all—and God gave us his grace when the Holy Spirit worked faith into our hearts through the means of grace (John 17:17; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Corinthians 12:3). By his grace the Lord worked faith into our hearts so that we would receive all the blessings that Christ won for us on the cross. And it was on the cross that Christ won our salvation! This is nothing other than grace upon grace—the Father’s grace is sending his Son, the grace of Christ to sacrifice himself and rise again, and the grace of the Holy Spirit to work faith into our hearts so that we receive everything the Lord so graciously gives us!

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Speaking of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (and with keeping with our theme for Bytes of Bread and our sermon the last few week), there is a line in, “Lord, ‘Tis Not that I Did Choose You” that was probably a bit confusing. In the third stanza we sang, “Praise the Lamb, our expiation.” If you caught this line at all, you probably thought to yourself, “What in the world does that mean?” And if you did, I can’t blame you one bit! Expiation is not a term found in Scripture. This word has its roots in the pagan worship of the Greek Pantheon. The idea behind this word is that a deity’s anger has been satisfied. Expiation is closely related to another term that also has roots in pagan worship, propitiation. This word refers to an act that regains the favor of a deity; in other words, by doing something, the deity’s wrath has been removed. You could say that an act of propitiation of one or many leads to the expiation of the deity. 

Used in a Christian sense, as it does in our hymn, it refers to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross which satisfied God’s wrath/the payment that he demanded for our sins. The sacrifice of Christ (the propitiation), lead to the expiation of God toward us.

However, the problem behind this idea is that it is God who acted in love to send his Son to save us from our sins. God satisfied his own “wrath” with his love. In other words, the Lord doesn’t have wrath toward us like the Greek Pantheon had toward their people, God has only love for us! Because of the pagan baggage of these two words, they are, for the most part, largely out of use in our circles. Where some translation “propitiation” the EHV translates “atoning sacrifice” (1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10). It is by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we are made at-one with God!

Pastor Andrew Frey


Church News

Bible Information Class

We are starting a new Bible Information Class (BIC), otherwise known as an Adult Instruction Class this Thursday at 6:30pm. We highly encourage our members to attend as a simple review of the Christian faith—or better yet, invite someone new and come with them! If you are interested in attending or know someone who may be, please speak to Pastor Frey.

Bible Classes

On Sunday mornings, Pastor Frey will be leading a study on the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther—three books, written at an interesting point in the history of God’s people—and yet three books we probably don’t know much about.

On Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings Pastor Gartner will be leading a study on the distinction between law and gospel. Knowing the difference between these two main teachings of the Bible is of the up-most importance. And yet, knowing when and how to apply these two teachings is something that no one can completely master this side of heaven. This study will more assuredly be a great benefit for all who attend.

NOTE: We do have audio recordings and the Lesson Sheets of these Bible Classes. If you have been unable to attend and would like these sent to you, please email Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.

Lent 2020

We will once again be having our midweek Lenten service at 10:30am and 6:30pm. Light refreshments will be served before and after our morning service, while Lenten meals will be served starting at 5:30 before our evening service. Please sign-up on the sheets in the entryway if you are interested in attended the meal each week. Please also note that confirmation class during the Lenten season will be held from 5:00-6:00.

This year our theme is: “The Son of God Goes Forth to War.” When many people picture Jesus they see him as a Gentle Shepherd, a patient teacher, or on his heavenly throne in his full glory. This Lenten season we will be taking a look at Jesus’ role as a warrior. He is the one who was greatly opposed but ultimately won the victory over our greatest enemies.

Roller Skating at Skate City

Plan to join fellow members of St. John and their guests for an evening of roller skating/blading on Sunday, March 15th from 4:30-6:30 pm at Skate City in Kimberly. The cost is $6.00 per person including skates. To reserve the rink, a minimum of 60 people need to attend. Sign up today; a sheet is on the counter in the entryway.

EHV News

Now that we have Evangelical Heritage Versions of the Bible in our pews and in our bulletins, we thought it would be a good idea to give you some updates on the EHV. It is now available for free on biblegateway.com or on the biblegateway app. If you use the Logos Bible software it is also available for purchase. The EHV also has an electronic study bible available for 20 dollars—it is for Windows 10 users only and can be found at the Microsoft app store. Finally, a reminder that we do have a number of hard copies of the EHV bible available for purchase. If you would like one or have any questions, please speak to Pastor Frey or Pastor Gartner.

New Option for Giving your Offering

VANCO, the company we use for online giving through our website, now offers an app that allows you to give directly to St. John through your smart phone, VANCO Give Plus. Simply download the app, login/create a username, and then find St. John. This app will allow you to give to whatever fund you so desire, as well as set a one-time offering, or a recurring offering with a specific frequency. For more information ask Tim Springstroh or one of the pastors. Below are the links for the app.

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vanco.gpm

Apple App Store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/give/id1120840616

Ladies’ Canvass Painting

Save the date! We will be having a ladies’ canvas painting on March 29th in the church basement from 3pm-5pm. More information and a sign-up sheet is on the counter in the narthex.