By: Pr. Matt Richard
The doctrine of predestination belongs to the Gospel, not the Law. Whenever the scripture uses the term of election, some 70 times, it is applied only to the believing Christian. Therefore, if the hearer finds himself reacting negatively to the doctrine of predestination or if he finds himself in doubt, his ears are not hearing predestination correctly. If the hearer is reacting negatively he is most assuredly hearing the doctrine of predestination through the lens of Law, not Gospel. Martin Luther comments on the doctrine of election in the Epistle of Romans saying,
In chapters nine, ten, and eleven the apostle teaches about the eternal predestination of God. He tells how it originally comes about that a person will believe or not, will become rid of his sins or not. He does so in order that our becoming pious be taken entirely out of our own hands and placed into the hand of God. And indeed it is supremely necessary that this be done; for we are so weak and unstable that if the matter depended on us, surely not a single person would be saved, but the devil would certainly overpower all. Since, however, God is certain that His predestination cannot fail and no one can defeat His purpose, our hope against sin remains. . . .
Following the order of this Epistle: first be concerned about Christ and the Gospel, in order to recognize your sin and His grace; then fight against your sins. . . . Adam must first be quite dead before a man is able to bear this subject and to drink this strong wine.
Essentially what Luther is stating is that the old Adam needs to be killed, for the old Adam will not be able to hear about predestination as Gospel gift. Rather than hearing comfort, the old Adam will most definitely hear the doctrines of predestination as a threat to his dominion and attempts at preserving his so called ‘free will.’ Yes, the old Adam takes a tremendously comforting doctrine such as predestination and turns it into something that threatens man. Oh, the perverse tactics of the old man!
 Martin Luther, What Luther Says: An Anthology Volume I Absolution to Giving. edited by Ewald Plass (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 1959), 455-456.
 Walther also covers the difficult of a person trying to understand predestination in a state of unbelief in his essay, The Controversy Concerning Predestination (Published in 1881 by Concordia Publishing House of St. Louis, MO). He states, “Dear reader, are you already in faith, or not? If you have not the faith, then I must advise you once more, as I have already done in the preface: do not at present meddle with the mysterious doctrine of election at all! In this your condition of unbelief, you require to be taught the first letters of the divine word.”