Question 7 of the Westminster Short Catechism asks:
What are the decrees of God?
I guess it’s a good question but the catechism gives no indication as to why they ask or why it’s important. Seems a bit mysterious.
I’m curious as to why they mention “Decrees” at all. The word doesn’t feature widely in the Old or New Testaments so you’re left wondering, but not for long. The catechism’s answer to this strange question takes a huge leap from the mysteriously broad to the philosophically outrageous:
The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His will, whereby, for His own glory, He hath FOREORDAINED WHATSOEVER COMES TO PASS.
The answer gets right to the point but instead of clearing the air, it leaves you confused and fretful, not to mention shocked!
Did they really say God ordained “Whatsoever comes to pass?”
If you’re a thinking person and you extend this short statement to its logical end, many difficult questions arise. So many, in fact, that the brain freezes up like a PC. It becomes a hailstorm of inquiry.
Did God really foreordain murder, mayhem, genocide, abuse, corruption, oppression, natural catastrophe and so on? The inferred meaning is impossible to miss. It’s also difficult to accept.
It really boils down to just one question. Are horrible things really a part of God’s will and has His personal counsel guided events to such conclusions?
And if the answer to that question is yes, you are compelled to ask an additional question. How can these horrible things possibly glorify God?
Amazingly, and in spite of the logical implications, those who hold these beliefs are unfazed. The unfortunate but unequivocal response to “Are you sure about this” is “Yes! Everything that happens is in sync with God’s predetermined will!”
And if in the interest of clarity you should inquire further, the rationale becomes a bit circular.
Everything happens and is foreordained by God in order to serve His eternal purpose and to glorify Himself, and because it is for His own glory, it’s all arranged by the counsel of His own will!!
In other words, everything is God’s will because God wills it to be so.
There’s even a simple explanation for those who are stumped by an intellectual impasse or two along this thought path.
God is beyond our understanding and does as He pleases whether we understand it or not.
That, of course, isn’t an answer. This entire discussion implies many uncomfortable characterizations of God which are difficult to swallow but don’t be too disturbed. According to Paul, we can be sure God will not deny Himself. He will not do things contrary to His character (2 Tim. 2:13).
Purpose, Counsel and Glory
It’s true that purpose, counsel and glory are biblical concepts. All three are huddled together in two short verses (11-12) in the first chapter of Ephesians so there you have it. It must be true!
Maybe, but only if you’re happy with first impressions and superficial considerations.
These are broad topics. Brief dogmatic definitions don’t do them justice and the nightmarish outcomes included in “whatsoever comes to pass” conflict so profoundly with the nature the Bible attributes to God, that it behooves us to think long and hard before supposing there is anything sensible about this definition of decree.
The heart of the issue, of course – what the catechism is really defining – is Calvinism. The Catechism doesn’t mention Calvinism anywhere, beginning to end but there is a good reason it doesn’t. The word is not found in the Bible.
The word is borrowed from the name of the individual who popularized the catechism’s definition, John Calvin, but even though it’s not in the Bible or the Catechism, it is widely used and encapsulates a teaching that puts a stranglehold on words that are found in the Bible such as election and predestination, and those two words are critical. How you interpret them will determine how you understand God’s purpose, counsel and glory.
Those who wrote the catechism – Calvinists all – believe some very strange things. For them “the elect” refers only to those who get saved and they get saved only because God “elected” them for salvation. God does it all. The elect do nothing and only the elect go to heaven. Of course, as you might have guessed, any person not included on the list is headed for hell without recourse. Begging, jumping up and down, carrying placards, shouting unfair and even believing changes nothing. Hell is your destiny.
Each person is either elected or not. God makes all the choices and there’s nothing you can do to change them.
Not to worry, though. There are different and I would think better ways to understand these concepts, and that is the reason for this post. If you came here thinking you are Christian because you are one of the elect, I’m afraid you might be disappointed. If you came here in fear thinking you’re not one of the elect, you will find reasons for hope. Either way, may you find something to think about.
Let’s start with Election.
Election Is For Service Not Salvation
I will give more arguments to support this idea later but I am letting you know up front that every time I mention the word “election” I’m thinking service, not salvation.
“Election” Is A Human Word
The word “Elect” and all its derivatives are human words, coined by humans and used in human contexts. That’s true of every word in the Bible and an important principle of interpretation is to observe the commonly understood meanings of words when translating.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not questioning the inspiration of Scripture or suggesting the words aren’t important. Every word is significant and powerful. God moved each author to write and then superintended what they wrote but none of the authors used a new or heavenly language. Every word in the Bible is, first of all, a human word.
If God used human language to convey His ideas, it doesn’t make sense to change the commonly understood meanings of the language to figure out what He was trying to say.
But that is exactly what happens when you add the word “Unconditional” to “Election.”
“Unconditional Election” is incongruous. The two words cancel each other out. The word Unconditional is not in the Bible. It’s an interpretive add-on that distorts the everyday use of the word election.
Interpreters employ the word to impose their understanding on the text.
From a human standpoint, “Election” in any language has never been unconditional.
Would any responsible person make choices arbitrarily? Do coaches select starting players without thought? Do employers hire people in the blind?
No!! We listen carefully, watch closely, read reports, assess and then make considered choices. And it doesn’t stop there. Once choices are made, we continue to watch to make sure everything is as it should be.
That’s the intelligent thing to do. Would it be wise to suggest God makes unconsidered, arbitrary choices about who to save? Can we extend the word “Election” to take on such implications?
Remember, though, that God’s elective purposes focus on service, not salvation.
And I’m suggesting that elective purposes, which have nothing to do with salvation, are predicated on conditions. They always involve pre and post qualifications.
The Bible bears this out. Peter said:
Make your calling an election sure (2 Peter 1:10).
Many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).
But that’s not all.
Election Is Based On Foreknowledge
God knows everything instantly and at all times and his knowledge is the bases for the elections He makes. People are elected for service based on what God knows about them. He knows each person better than we could ever know them. He knows us better than we know ourselves!
The detail of His knowledge is astonishing! Jesus said the very hairs of your head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). This is more than general knowledge. It’s personal. Each person has on average 100,000 plus hairs. That’s a lot of hair to keep track of and God has assigned a number to each hair on every person’s head and knows how many will fall out before they fall out.
Not only does God know everything about each person, He commands that knowledge instantly and completely. He doesn’t discover it or calculate it, He just knows.
There is no comparison between God’s capacity for knowing intricately and completely and the human capacity for self-awareness.
Self-awareness is a process. For some, it never clarifies, but God knows everything about every person, past, present and future, at all times.
And He loves us. God loves everyone equally so it would be impossible to say He chooses anyone indiscriminately. He makes fair and impartial judgments. His choices are based on all the information He has, which is everything, and includes bits we can’t see or know: thoughts, feelings, inclinations, intentions and, equally important, future choices.
Everyone agrees foreknowledge is an attribute of God but when people try to explain how that works, the stories differ widely. There is a reason for that.
Why explanations vary
Although Election and Foreknowledge are both human words, each is understood differently.
“Election” is practical and material. Selections – another word for elections – between individuals are made daily. When we make the right selections, we are pleased and supportive. The choices who perform well are given raises and promotions to reward their good work and extend their influence. The ones that don’t perform so well are vacated as soon as possible.
Elective processes are temporal, earthly, measurable and manageable.
“Foreknowledge” is very different. It’s philosophical. We’re mystified by the future. It makes us uncertain and feeds our insecurities. We can’t even be sure about the next five minutes, much less the next tens years, and we aren’t happy with the uncertainty.
We carry insurance and create emergency funds to quiet our fears. Or we resort to reading horoscopes, cards, palms or tea leaves or casting bones to gain an edge. It’s all nonsense, of course, but that’s the mindset. People are desperate to explore the future.
Simply put, foreknowledge is out of our range. The only time we can visualize future events is when we try to force things to happen and even then there’s no guarantee.
Coaches diligently prepare teams to outperform their opponents. It makes sense. Preparation is power so it’s one way to influence, if not control, the circumstances but prepared or not the outcome is still a mystery till the match is over. There are too many intangibles. The difference between winning and losing can sometimes be nothing more than the bounce of the ball.
Omniscience is not foreknowledge
Foreknowledge isn’t a mystery for God, though. In fact, the word doesn’t really apply to Him.
Remember, foreknowledge is a human word and applies to the human realm. God doesn’t need words like foreknowledge because He sees everything at a glance. He’s omniscient. It’s a different word. The scope is far more reaching.
Events in the past don’t fade out and events in the future don’t appear distantly on the horizon. To use a bit of human terminology, God knows every detail in high definition at every moment. Every event for Him is both future and past.
Foreknowledge is a very human word. It’s limiting. God employed the word probably because it was the best word to describe the divine capacity for knowing, which is far beyond our ability to comprehend.
Here is where eternity comes into the picture. Eternity is real but we don’t live there. It’s not in our realm so most of what we say about it is philosophical.
Eternity has no clock and doesn’t pass like time. It just is. We coin phrases like Eternity Past when discussing eternal issues, which makes no sense at all. Eternity has no past. It also has no future.
Time is finite. It has a definite beginning and a definite end. Time will eventually run out. Eternity has no beginning or end and will not run out.
Think of eternity as the ocean and time as a submarine suspended in the ocean. We’re in the submarine. We are surrounded by the hull of time and time is surrounded by the expanse of eternity.
We live in time, God inhabits eternity. We can’t see eternity but God can see time from every perspective, beginning to end constantly.
The phrase eternity past is useful for us who live in time but only if we don’t allow it to impose our limited time-based perspectives on God.
I agree that eternity is a difficult concept to relate to. We’ve never experienced it. Like the future, it’s a mystery. But should we allow “mystery” to become a cloud cover for senseless ideas like God electing some to be saved and all others not?
Enter Jacob And Esau
You might be wondering why this is important. Well, it’s important because the Bible states that God revealed His choice of Jacob over Esau before either had done anything good or evil (Romans 9:11). In fact, they hadn’t even been born yet.
That’s very strange to us. The idea messes with the head. Time-based living gets in the way but we must see this from eternity rather than time.
But note that God only revealed His choice in time, He didn’t make it in time.
The reality is God doesn’t make decisions before or after anything. He didn’t make a decision in time, He only revealed it in time. Rebekkah was unaware of the evil or good the twins would do but God was neither unaware nor oblivious.
God knew that Jacob cared and would care. He also knew Esau didn’t and wouldn’t. And He acted accordingly.
I know you’ll need evidence before accepting what I just said, not because what I said doesn’t make sense, but because the opposite is so loudly echoed through Christian circles that it’s now the imprint.
Not to worry, there is proof. David’s example illustrates the point (1 Samuel 16).
David was elected to take Saul’s place as king. Can I use the word “elected” here? Hopefully, you can see that David’s anointing was an election.
David was the youngest of eight sons. He was handsome, brave and charming but he wasn’t the strongest or tallest of his brothers. He didn’t project the same physical presence. He was the least in stature and therefore less likely to be chosen by human onlookers.
This event highlights a human problem. We are limited by what we see and often make choices based on markers that are visible only to the naked eye. God, however, doesn’t have the same limitation. He sees beyond appearances.
God’s vision penetrates to the heart. He sees and knows what humans cannot. Ulterior motives and personal agendas are not a mystery to Him.
And it just so happens that David’s heart was the biggest factor in God selecting him to be king. Unfortunately, Samuel couldn’t see his heart. From his vantage point, David’s brothers were more impressive. When God rejected the first seven sons, Samuel was mystified and the Lord graciously provided an explanation.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7
What? God looks at the heart? Did He really say that?
Yes, that’s exactly what He said and this incident is proof that God’s elective choices are predicated on what He finds in a person’s heart.
There are many Scriptures that mention this. David authored one of them.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me. (Psalm 139:1)
Through Jeremiah, the Lord made the point quite clearly.
I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10)
In light of what actually happened and how the Bible explains it, one would be hard pressed to prove God made no consideration of Jacob’s heart and future actions when He elected him over Esau.
I’ll say more about Rebekkah just now, but Romans 9:11 was framed for the benefit of Rebekkah before the fact and our benefit afterward.
Foreknowledge is not foreordination
Calvinists aren’t convinced, however, and they have a deft work-around to obliterate the heart issues.
God only knows what will happen in the future because He makes it happen.
In other words, God has foreordained or planned the actions of humans and guides them to execute the same. That idea is an insult to the attribute of omniscience but people don’t often see this. It humanizes God and puts Him in a very bad light. It brings Him down to our level.
The only way humans can know what will happen in the future is to manipulate circumstances to control outcomes. Manipulation often fails but that is how humans think.
But the above idea leads to the conclusion that:
God doesn’t consider what people will do or how they will live when making His selections because He dictates their actions. They don’t have a choice.
Again, the reasoning is very circular. Calvinists may not think this and I’m not trying to put words in their mouth, but they tend to use the terms foreordain and foreknowledge interchangeably. God foreknows what will happen because He foreordained everything.
Arbitrary, capricious or worse
But, what if God didn’t foreordain the things we do? What if He gave us a will and a set of natural and moral laws to work with and allowed us enough freedom to make certain choices?
What if we are only tainted by sinfulness and not completely incapable of moral judgments? What if ruination were the outcome of many bad choices and not the natural born state?
Calvinists can’t think this way because if we can make choices and God knows what we will do and think, but doesn’t take this information into consideration when making His elections, it would paint Him as arbitrary, capricious or worse.
He forces (ordains) one person to love God and allows everyone else to hate? If He can restore totally destroyed humans to an acceptable state but decides to restore only a few, there is nothing good to say about that.
Human will and God’s intervention
The reality is humans make choices and those choices result in outcomes. They chain-react. Good choices result in good outcomes and unhappy choices produce unhappy outcomes.
What we learn from Bible history is that God’s intervention is limited. He doesn’t control the choices we make. He also doesn’t prevent the outcomes. We have every reason to believe He wants us to make choices and learn from the choices we make, even the bad ones. In fact, it’s our bad choices and sinful inclinations that teach us about the need for salvation.
Admittedly, we may never understand events from God’s perspective, but to believe God foreordained whatsoever comes to pass is the lazy way out. It’s easy. No explanation or understanding needed. Just accept it and move on to the next question. But it’s a difficult sell. People don’t easily buy it.
A few clarifications before moving on.
- God does nothing in time.
Because God exists in eternity, He doesn’t make decisions in time, on time or by time.
God’s revelations are made known during the course of time and they occasionally foretell what’s going to happen in the future but a good question to ask is why does He tell us what’s going to happen if the outcomes are automatic. If He foreordained everything why tell us about it? In fact, if we aren’t responsible, why tell us anything at all, even the moral stuff.
- God’s interventions serve His purpose
God does intervene in time but very occasionally and it’s never about us personally. His purpose is always to promote His plan. He cares for each person individually and we are all recipients of His blessings but He doesn’t pamper us.
- God was testing Rebekkah
One question no one asks is “Why did God say anything to Rebekkah at all?” How often do mother’s receive direct revelations to prayers about their children? Do we expect this? Does God respond to mothers this way frequently?
I’m sure Rebekkah wasn’t the first or last mother to ask curious questions about their unborn kids.
Keep in mind that this wasn’t a mother’s intuition. Mothers and fathers do intuit life trajectories for their children but this was different. This was God communicating directly with an inquisitive mother about the future of her unborn children.
Remember too that this wasn’t a conversation about heaven and hell. It was about families and nations, positions and influence, devotion and indifference.
So, what’s the deal? Why did God reveal anything to Rebekkah?
Simply put, it was a test. The human response to unfavorable circumstances is manipulation and the situation in Rebekkah’s family was a setup for conflict. Rebekkah favored Jacob and wanted him to be the head of the family. Isaac favored Esau and would have naturally chosen him to be head.
God, the third and most important party, chose Jacob. The election took place in eternity but was revealed to Rebekkah in time, before the boys were born. But again, why did God share Jacob’s election with Rebekkah?
- God was teaching us
Maybe there is a universal reason God shared this story in the Bible. Maybe He wanted everyone to learn something about conflict and how to manage it when strong personalities hold opposing opinions about who should do what.
This wasn’t the first or last time favoritism featured in relationships where God’s will and purpose were involved. It wasn’t unusual for heirs to murder one another to secure the throne.
Another good question to ask is, “What would have happened had Rebekkah quietly watched as the blessing ceremonies played out?”
Obviously, she didn’t sit idly by. She got involved in a big way. She lied and cheated, and included Jacob in the deception, in order to manipulate a preferred outcome.
But did she really need to do this?
Instead of securing the correct outcome, her interference made things worse.
Her actions made Esau’s hatred murderous. It also fostered character flaws in Jacob that took years, and many bad experiences, to purge. Jacob’s selection was secured for generations to come even if Isaac handed over everything to Esau.
Sadly, she caused a lot of trouble and all of it was unnecessary. Jacob’s election was secure without it. She only made relationships worse. It isn’t mentioned often but she paid a dear price for her manipulative ways. Once Jacob left Canaan, she never saw him again.
This was a good old fashion power struggle. Such struggles do serve a purpose but not when it happens between people who are on the same side. They were family. Family members love each other, believe in each other, support each other and cheer one another on. They don’t fight over positions of power, or they shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, it happens. Families do fight and often over less significant issues. Maybe that is the lesson we’re missing with all the prattling about election for salvation.
The outcome was ugly. The descendants of Jacob and Esau were in constant conflict until Esau was eventually wiped out. The struggle never ended until one was destroyed.
Before you engage this kind of fight, think about how your actions may affect future generation.
- God is rational
But getting back to the original question, “Does God take human actions into consideration, not when He makes His choices, but when He reveals them?” Remember, He didn’t elect Jacob in time, He only revealed it in time.
It’s a fact. He knows that one person will believe and another will not. He knows that one person will serve and another will not. When trying to explain that, we must be careful. We’re dealing with concepts that are outside human experience.
Calvinists suggest that God knows what will happen because God makes everything happen, but, again, isn’t that how humans work? Don’t we try to control events to achieve a certain outcome? And when we attribute the same approach to God, aren’t we humanizing God?
Election Is For Service, Not Salvation
Here again, we have two very different terms: service and salvation.
One relates to our eternal destiny, salvation. The other relates to here and now, service. Service includes our responses to God’s leading. Service is what we do to further the cause of the Gospel after we are saved.
But we qualify for both. Salvation requires repentance and faith and is settled forever once we believe. Service requires appropriate acts of obedience consistently over time.
After many years of service, Paul stated before King Agrippa that he had obeyed God’s call to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 26:19). His comment came after many years of obedient service and would be followed by many more.
Service, the thing for which we are elected, requires long-term follow through.
I’m surprised I have to say this but there is no place in the Bible where anyone is “elected” for salvation and the proof can be found in one of the most favored passages on election, Romans 9-11.
The Book of Romans can easily be divided into six divisions:
- Need for salvation – All are sinners (Romans 1-3)
- Bases of savlation – Faith (Romans 4)
- Effect of salvation – Peace with God (Romans 5)
- Conflict after salvation – Opposing natures (Romans 6-8)
- CHANNELS OF SALVATION – ISRAEL AND GENTILES (Romans 9-11)
- Implications of salvation – Relational conduct (Romans 12-16)
Note that election is only mentioned in the fifth division of the book.
Also note that Romans is the most comprehensive discussion of the Gospel. It covers everything logically and chronologically. Paul begins with the first principle – the need for salvation – and moves forward sequentially from there.
The first four divisions deal with personal, individual salvation or, in other words, the why, how and what of salvation.
The fifth division changes directions entirely. Here Paul talks about service, specifically how did the Gospel develop and how will it be shared.
How shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach unless they be sent? (10:14-15)
This is methodology 101. The responsibility to share the Gospel is the point of this division and an important topic in the discussion is election.
The people mentioned in this division: Isaac, Jacob and Israel were elected to serve, not get saved, and Paul is encouraging us to ask the question “What part of this important task am I elected to do? Am I elected to preach, go, send or what?”
And more to the point.
Why would Paul leave “Election” for the fifth division of the book, the division which focuses on serving and getting the message out, if it really pertains to salvation?
Well, it doesn’t, so he wouldn’t.
One of the most clarifying passages in this division is found toward the end of chapter 11:
As concerning the Gospel, they (Israel – the nation) are enemies for your sakes, but as touching the election, they are loved for the fathers’ sakes. (Romans 11:28)
The important observation to make here is that the Gospel and election are not one and the same. They are represented as different, almost opposing ideas. One is salvation, the Gospel. The other is service, election. They are not synonymous.
Election Is Broad
Everyone is elected. God leaves no one out.
Some elections seem quite glamorous: preaching the Gospel, going to the mission field, translating the Bible, but God’s elective purposes don’t always involve such high profile endeavors. Sometimes it’s much simpler: teaching Sunday School, ushering, keeping books or even working reception in the church office. God has an elective hand in all these matters.
The point of I Corinthians 12 is that every Christian in each church has a different place and every place is significant. Everyone is elected.
Sadly, all the talk about being elected for salvation has emasculated the concept. If God elected individuals for salvation in eternity past and guarantees their salvation, whenever/however, no matter what, why worry? As Jonathan Edwards preached, if you’re meant to be saved, you’ll be saved. If not, there is nothing you can do about it.
Not only does this idea misdirect, but it also makes us lazy and completely obscures the idea of service. Don’t worry. I know you can’t earn salvation or even the right to serve but when God calls us to service, we can and should make a diligent effort to obey.
The truth is everyone is elected. We all have places to serve and each one is responsible to act accordingly.
Election Is Specific
Keeping in mind that election is for service, a good question to ask is what does God elect people to do specifically, and there are many different answers to that question.
God might elect some to preach the Gospel. It’s a strong possibility but a general calling alone isn’t sufficient. It requires more detail. You must determine where He wants you to preach and so on. The possibilities are endless.
There are several important details to keep in mind:
- No two people are elected to do the same thing.
Because elections are specific, they are also limiting. Two people can’t fill the same position simultaneously. Isaac and Ishmael couldn’t both be the head of the family. Only one was needed, hence an election was made.
And there was nothing unconditional about it. Isaac didn’t earn the calling but he did qualify. He was the child of promise.
The selections don’t stop there. Jacob was elected over Esau. Judah was elected over the other tribal heads. The elections in each case only involved one individual, but no election constituted the denial of all the others for service or salvation.
Because one person in each case was chosen to fill a certain position didn’t mean all other potential candidates went to hell. How does any person reach such a warped conclusion? Forget logic. The idea is incoherent!
If the selection of Jacob meant Esau went to hell, we would have to conclude that the selection of Judah meant all the other tribal heads went to hell.
David was clearly elected to be King over Israel. Does that mean all his brothers – there were 7 – went to hell? David’s brothers reacted hatefully when he exceeded them in battle. Can you imagine the reaction had his election meant he was being saved and they were not?
These elections were for service, not salvation, and pertained to specific areas of responsibility. You can’t fill one position with two people but there is a place for every person.
- Jealousy can be a problem.
Jealousy was Esau’s problem. He wanted Jacob’s calling. He thought it was his, felt he deserved it and could never get over the belief that Jacob had stolen it.
He couldn’t accept the fact that God made Jacob the family head. His anger festered into bitterness and the bitterness spread throughout his descendants. There was constant friction between the two families.
We aren’t always happy or agree with God’s choices and the temptation to meddle and fidget is strong, but the more time one spends regretting their calling, the more likely they are to neglect it.
- Friction can be a problem.
Elections never conflict but people often do. It’s inevitable.
No one serves in isolation so it isn’t strange that elective positions will often rub shoulders. Billy Graham was a great evangelist but he couldn’t succeed without the efforts of thousands but so many people working in close quarters isn’t easy or comfortable.
It’s perfectly natural for friction to occur, inevitable in fact. Trying to avoid it is futile, but it is not okay to sow discord in back corners among associates to settle the disagreements.
We are each called to do different things and we will each answer for the thing we are called to do but we’re also accountable for how we manage the differences.
- Acceptance is the solution.
The biggest problem with election is not what or where but acceptance. Some people are elated when called to the mission field. Others respond despondently with fear and dread.
Esau was disappointed because he wanted to be the head of the family. What he wanted, he didn’t get and he never accepted this. Does that mean he wasn’t elected for anything?
I don’t know what Esau was elected to do but, whatever it was, he never accepted it. Instead, he seethed in anger. He sought tearfully, but unsuccessfully, for a way to take the blessing from Jacob. He obviously missed his calling.
Esau isn’t the only person to do this. Many have lamented the fact that they were called to preach or to missions or to some other field of service but failed to go. They still served and were grateful to do so but always with a sense of curiosity and loss wondering what might have been.
Elective Outcomes Are Neither Scripted Nor Guaranteed
David was elected to be King but that election didn’t include polygamy, adultery and murder. Those things did happen. It came to pass but you can be sure God didn’t ordain it.
The only people God elects are sinners. No other kinds are available and every servant, even the most obedient, leaves a trace or smear as evidence of that sinfulness along the way.