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  • Writer's pictureKendall Ellis

We Believe: In Faith & Repentance

This is a preview of a sermon in the “We Believe: Back to Basics” series. To watch the recording of any of the sermons in this sermon series, visit our website.

"...all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

- Luke 18:9-14

"In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."

- Ephesians 1:3-10

We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces,wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God.

- New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith (1833), Article VIII. Of Repentance and Faith

We believe that election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners; that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of [hu]man[ity]

- NHBCF, Article IX. Of God’s Purpose of Grace


Have you ever thought about how we use certain words in certain ways, even though they mean the same thing?

For example, "Election" comes from Latin's electio. Which means to "pick out." We use it for our political process of voting to select civic leaders.

"Choosing" comes from the German and is related to the Dutch word kiezen. It also means to "select." But we do not call political elections "The Presidential Choosing of 2024." We instead use the words in slogans like "Choosy moms choose Jif" - referring to the peanut butter.

Sometimes using a similar, but different, word can help us see past the connotations which have built up around a loaded term. Interestingly, a popular television series about the life of Jesus is called "The Chosen."

What does it mean to be chosen?

"Election" is, undoubtedly, one of those "loaded terms," in Christian Theology. And it has been a matter of a lot of debate!

The church, including Baptists, has been divided between "Calvinists" (who believe "the elect" are those God alone chooses, or predestines, in his "Sovereign grace") and Arminians (who believe "the elect" are anyone who chooses to accept God's "Free grace").

The Swiss theologian Karl Barth was influenced by the above passage in Ephesians, which praises God's grace "which he has freely given us in the One he loves," that is, Jesus. He began to see the one who was "Chosen," the one who was "Elect," was Christ Jesus. And humanity, when it finds itself "in him," is chosen because of their relationship.

He began to see this debate in different terms. He began to think of election as something more than which individuals are chosen and which are not. He began to see humanity being chosen by God in the person of Jesus.

God's grace always brings humility and joy. As Jesus says in the Parable of the Tax Collector in Pharisee:

"...all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

And maybe the humility of Christ, the one who was chosen from "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4-6) will help us all understand the beauty of grace, repentance, faith, and what it means to be "chosen."

Reflection Questions

1. Is there a time you were selected for an important role before and you didn't know why? How did that feel?

2. Sometimes words get loaded with a lot of baggage. Words like "election," or "salvation." The Pastor and scholar Eugene Peterson wrote a paraphrase of the Bible. It aimed to help people read and understand the Bible without some of the baggage of language that seemed too familiar and, for some, was made unclear by all the controversy around them. Read his paraphrase of Ephesians 1:3-10 below. How does this help you understand God's grace?

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

3. Watch the below video. Why should grace (salvation as God acting for our sake) be humbling to us?


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