Why Didn’t God Elect All?

election 3

Q. If God is love, then why didn’t He save all? Doesn’t He love the non-elect? Why create them to suffer eternally in hell?

A. Yes God is love (1 Jn 4:8, 16). He loves the non-elect too:
Ezk 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
• Ezk 33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
• 1 Tim 2:3-4 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
• 2 Pet 3:9 … Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Then why didn’t He save them? The short answer is I don’t know. This is one of those “deep things of God” (1 Co 2:10), whom the Spirit had kept to Himself and not revealed to us in Scripture. Theologians have suggested clues, which I found to be not fully satisfactory:
Rom 9:13-24 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

What theologians deduced is that election depends:
• on God’s mercy, which is His sovereign choice,
• not on human desire or effort,
• His desire to make the riches of His glory known to the called.
Few would dispute God’s sovereignty. If God is not sovereign, then who is? Arminians would argue that to some extent that it depends on man’s positive response to God, but there are enough passages to prove that even that is due to God’s grace. So it boils down to the third point.

Normally, at least in human decision-making, we choose one thing over another because we want that thing more. In this case the choices seem to be:
• condemning the non-elect to hell to make His glory known to the elect, or
• saving all but giving up the magnification of His glory to the elect.
In this instance God values His glory more than saving all, hence His choice. I understand the logic of it, as espoused by Calvinists, but not the heart behind it. My feeling can be paraphrased from Mk 14:21, “It would be better for him (the non-elect) if he had not been born.” I accept it because it’s in the Bible, and I’m grateful because I know the Lord, but my limited capacity does not comprehend it. That is just one of the mysteries I have to accept by faith.

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