“Herein man’s wisdom, his sense, reason, understanding, is made a fool”:
Blessed Martin Luther on Election and Predestination


HT: Matt Fenn

Why some and not others?

Again, these worldlings are offended that Christ, as they think, rejects, good, honest, and holy people; that He will not know them, is harsh to them, sends them away from Him, and calls them malefactors, though some in His name have prophesied, cast out devils, done miracles, etc., while, on the other hand, He receives public sinners, as strumpets, knaves, publicans, murderers, whom, if they hear His Word, and believe in Him, He forgives, be their sins ever so great and many, yea, makes them righteous and holy, God’s children, and heirs of everlasting life and salvation, out of mere grace and mercy, without any deserts, good works, and worthiness of theirs. This they conceive to be altogether unjust.

Who can be here an arbitrator, the two things being as contrary to each other as fire and water? Herein man’s wisdom, his sense, reason, understanding, is made a fool. The Scripture says: “Except ye be converted, and become like little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God.” They who would investigate these things with human wit and wisdom, give themselves much futile labor and disquiet; they will never learn how God is inclined towards them. In those, also, who so vainly trouble themselves, whether they be predestinated or fore-chosen, there goes up a fire in the heart, which they cannot quench; so that their consciences are never at peace, but in the end they must despair. He, therefore, that will shun this enduring evil must hold fast the Word, where he will find that our gracious God has laid a sure and strong foundation, on which we may with certainty take footing — namely, Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom only we must enter into the kingdom of heaven; for He, and no other, “is the way, the truth, and the life.”

We can understand the heavy temptations of that everlasting predestination, which terrifies many people, nowhere better than from the wounds of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, of Whom the Father commanded, saying: “Him shall ye hear.” But the wise of the world, the mighty, the high-learned, and the great, by no means heed these things, so that God remains unknown to them, notwithstanding they have much learning, and dispute and talk much of God; for it is a short conclusion. Without Christ, God will not be found, known, or comprehended.

If now thou wilt know, why so few are saved, and so infinitely many damned, this is the cause: the world will not hear Christ; they care nothing for him, yea, condemn that which the Father testifies of him: “This is my well-beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.”

Whereas all people that seek and labor to come to God, through any other means than only through Christ (as Jews, Turks, Papists, false saints, heretics, etc.), walk in horrible darkness and error; and it helps them nothing that they lead an honest, sober kind of life, affect great devotion, suffer much, love and honor God, as they boast, etc. For seeing they will not hear Christ, or believe in Him (without Whom no man knows God, no man obtains forgiveness of sins, no man comes to the Father), they remain always in doubt and unbelief, know not how they stand with God, and so at last must die, and be lost in their sins. For, “He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father,” (1 John ii.), “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him,” (John iii.)

(Blessed Martin Luther, Table Talk XCVI)


Concerning predestination, it is best to begin below, at Christ, as then we both hear and find the Father; for all those that have begun at the top have broken their necks. I have been thoroughly plagued and tormented with such cogitations of predestination; I would needs know how God intended to deal with me, etc. But at last, God be praised! I clean left them; I took hold again on God’s revealed Word; higher I was not able to bring it, for a human creature can never search out the celestial will of God; this God hides, for the sake of the devil, to the end the crafty spirit may be deceived and put to confusion. The revealed will of God the devil has learned from us, but God reserves His secret will to Himself. It is sufficient for us to learn and know Christ in His humanity, in which the Father has revealed Himself.

(ibid, DCLVII)