Below is a letter that Colleen had posted elsewhere on this blog that I think lends itself to its own post. I will have a response to Colleen’s letter in the next day or two. As always, I welcome people’s thoughts and viewpoints.
Setting aside God’s sovereign election of individuals to eternal life, let us agree on three other types of election. First, what we could call a “national” election. Wouldn’t you agree that some nations and communities have been given more exposure to a knowledge of true religion and the gospel than others? God undoubtedly does choose some nations to receive much greater spiritual and temporal blessings than others (i.e., America). The contrast is very striking when we compare these to third-world nations such as Africa, India and China. Did these people choose their fate? I don’t think anyone would say they did. The diversities of religious privileges in the different nations can be ascribed to nothing but the good pleasure of God.
Another form of election taught in scripture is that of individuals to the external means of grace, such as hearing and reading the gospel, association with other people of God, and sharing the benefits of the civilization which has arisen where the gospel has gone. None of us has had a chance to say at a particular time in world history or in what country we would be born–or whether we would be a member of the white race or some other. One child is born into health and wealth in a favored land, while another is born into poverty or neglectful parents. Have these things not been sovereignly decided for them? Furthermore, was it not of God’s own choosing that He created us as human beings, in His own image, when He might just as easily have created us as frogs or mosquitos or cats? These things, too, are due to God’s overruling providence, and not to human choice.
Lastly, I offer yet another kind of election, that of individuals to certain vocations. Some are given to amazing gifts for classical guitar, and others have gifts of painting or singing or speaking. Some people have been given personal beauty, some intelligence, some a kind disposition. Did we choose these gifts? I’m here to tell you, Bob, no matter how many guitar lessons I might take, I will never play in the beautiful way you do.
In each of these “types” of election, God gives to some what He withholds from others. We can easily see from conditions in the world and from our own everyday experiences that these blessings are bestowed sovereignly and unconditionally, irrespective of any previous merit or action on the part of those so chosen.
If we are highly favored, we can only be thankful for His blessings; if not highly favored, we have no grounds for complaint. Why, precisely, this or that person is placed in circumstances which lead to saving faith can only rest in the providence of the God Himself.
In Christ Alone,