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The Blue Letter Bible

Eschatology :: On Election

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If God works equally in the lives of all people and one accepts His invitation to salvation and another doesn't, where is the difference? Does the one who accepts have greater intelligence or a greater affinity for spiritual things? Is it prideful or wrong to think the difference lies within the person who is saved?

Part of the source of this quandary lies within the initial premise: that God works equally in each individual's life. By this, I assume it is meant that God used the same degree of effort in calling and wooing the Apostle Paul to a belief in Christ as He did with John F. Kennedy and Adolf Hitler.

Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on your point of view — this is not the case. First of all, God is what we term "omnipotent"; that is, He is all-powerful (Matthew 19:26). Not only can God do all things, but the things He does are neither difficult nor easy for Him. Yoda from Star Wars fame, once said to his pupil Luke, "There is no try...only do or do not." While this would be an impossibility for a human like Luke to ever attain, God (being infinitely powerful) can never be thwarted in His desires, and so accurately reflects Yoda's statement. God does not "try" to do anything; He either does it or does not do it. What occurs in our salvation is a direct reflection of this principle.

All men live at enmity with God and our wills are bent toward only evil (Romans 3). There is nothing within us that would or could ever desire God. But God has something else in store for some of us. What God does in the act of Salvation is alter our will to desire Him. He takes something that could never desire Him and causes it to desire nothing but Him and His glory (Ephesians 2:1; Titus 3:4-7). So the Holy Spirit does more than enable us to choose God, the Holy Spirit works in us to such a fashion that our desire to choose God is unquenchable and in fact, we can do nothing to resist Him.

Now He does not do this for everyone; it is entirely dependent on whom He chooses or elects (Ephesians 1:4-6). So God may choose one and not another. He does not "try" to save — He either saves or does not save. We may never know why He choose one man and not another, but we can be sure that it comes from nothing of our own merit (Romans 3; Ephesians 2:8-9). If God sees a use for any of us, it is a use He Himself created in us and it is a use for which He purposefully created us.

And this is to mean simply that we can have no hand in our salvation — though we bear the responsibility to trust in Christ to be saved, we can by no means come to that trust on our own. So, while to say that because of the fact that one is now saved, he must have exhibited less love for the world or a stronger will or a greater understanding of the Gospel is not necessarily prideful, it is just wrong. So, yes, it would be wrong to say the difference would be within the person.

Another point that might guide us to a better understanding is that it is not the love of God that determines who will be saved, rather it is the will (or decision-making faculty) of God. His love is what demands our well-being after the His will has chosen us to be God's children.

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.