Our election to eternal life is founded not on our godliness or virtue, but on Christ's merit alone and His Father's gracious will. He cannot deny Himself [2 Timothy 2:13], because He is unchangeable in will and essence. Therefore, when His children depart from obedience and stumble, He has called them to repentance again through the Word, and the Holy Spirit wants by the Word to be effective in them for conversion. When they turn to Him again in true repentance by a right faith, He will always show His old paternal heart to all who tremble at His Word and from their heart, as it is written:
You have played the whore with many lovers; [yet return again to Me,] declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 3:1)
The declaration in John 6:44 is true, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him." However, the Father will not do this without means, but has ordained His Word and Sacraments for this purpose as means and instruments. It is not the will of the Father or of the Son that a person should wait for the drawing of the Father without the Word and Sacraments. The Father draws by the power of His Holy Spirit according to His usual way. Every poor sinner should attend to the Word, hear it, and not doubt the Father's drawing. For the Holy Spirit will be with His Word. That is the Father's drawing. (paragraphs 75-77)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.