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Enjoying God Blog


Notwithstanding all that was said in my previous article on why God didn’t choose or elect all unto salvation, there is still in the human soul an uneasiness concerning God’s sovereign choice. To many, it seems arbitrary and unfair. If this is problematic to you, read carefully Charles Spurgeon’s response. It’s lengthy but well worth the effort:

“But there are some who say, ‘It is hard for God to choose some and leave others.’ Now, I will ask you one question. Is there any of you here this morning who wishes to be holy, who wishes to be regenerate, to leave off sin and walk in holiness? ‘Yes, there is,’ says some one, ‘I do.’ Then God has elected you. But another says, ‘No; I don't want to be holy; I don't want to give up my lusts and my vices.’ Why should you grumble, then, that God has not elected you to it? For if you were elected you would not like it, according to your own confession. If God this morning had chosen you to holiness, you say you would not care for it. Do you not acknowledge that you prefer drunkenness to sobriety, dishonesty to honesty? You love this world's pleasures better than religion; then why should you grumble that God has not chosen you to religion? If you love religion, he has chosen you to it. If you desire it, he has chosen you to it. If you do not, what right have you to say that God ought to have given you what you do not wish for?

Supposing I had in my hand something which you do not value, and I said I shall give it to such-and-such a person, you would have no right to grumble that I did not give to you. You could not be so foolish as to grumble that the other has got what you do not care about. According to your own confession, many of you do not want religion, do not want a new heart and a right spirit, do not want the forgiveness of sins, do not want sanctification; you do not want to be elected to these things: then why should you grumble? You count these things but as husks, and why should you complain of God who has given them to those whom he has chosen? If you believe them to be good and desire them, they are there for thee. God gives liberally to all those who desire; and first of all, he makes them desire, otherwise they never would. If you love these things, he has elected you to them, and you may have them; but if you do not, who are you that you should find fault with God, when it is your own desperate will that keeps you from loving these things—your own simple self that makes you hate them?

Suppose a man in the street should say, ‘What a shame it is I cannot have a seat in the chapel to hear what this man has to say.’ And suppose he says, ‘I hate the preacher; I can't bear his doctrine; but still it's a shame I have not a seat.’ Would you expect a man to say so? No: you would at once say, ‘That man does not care for it. Why should he trouble himself about other people having what they value and he despises?’ You do not like holiness, you do not like righteousness; if God has elected me to these things, has he hurt you by it? . . . If any of you love to be saved by Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ elected you to be saved. If any of you desire to have salvation, you are elected to have it, if you desire it sincerely and earnestly. But, if you don't desire it, why on earth should you be so preposterously foolish as to grumble because God gives that which you do not like to other people?” (Charles H. Spurgeon, sermon on 2 Thessalonians 2:13 [emphasis mine], available at

“And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev. 22:17b).

(Adapted from my book, Chosen for Life: The Case for Divine Election [Crossway, 2007])


I'm honestly not sure how I feel about his reasoning. Would we not say that even those who now desire Him only do so because God elected them? In other words, was not part of our election Him giving us the desire for these things? In that case, it would seem that God does give us only what we want, but that He is also the One who ultimately causes us to want. Those not elected don't desire Him because He has not placed that desire within them, right?

It seems to me the more apt analogy would be a world where everyone was born blind and knew nothing else. The elect have had their sight restored, and God has put in them a desire to have sight - they see the good in it and seek to see more and more things and more and more clearly. But all those who are lost are still blind, and knowing no different, don't desire to have sight, as they can't know what it is to have it in the first place. It seems cruel to say to a man born blind that you're leaving him blind because he doesn't want to see - when he literally does not and cannot understand the goodness that is sight.

To be clear, I'm not trying to argue against election or that God is cruel. I affirm what the Bible says about election and that God is loving and just. I'm simply unsure about the reasoning that Spurgeon is using to explain it.

Love Spurgeon. But could not the Arminian and/or unregenerate person respond that she still has the right to protest precisely because she does not have the desire for the things of God? ("Why have you made me thus?" i.e., without the desire for God whereby she would know that He loves her and that she is drawn to the Father). In other words, if the desire for the things of God is the evidence of election, then the lack of that desire would be the evidence for reprobation. Since, presumably, one cannot manufacture desire, the one who finds himself disinclined to the things of God could reason that God must be disinclined towards him. What incentive would such a person have for repentance?

On another note, I believe Spurgeon here captures the essence of Paul's reply to the objector in Romans 9: "Who are you O man to answer back to God?" Paul is saying that it would be disingenuous to protest, "who can resist his will," since such a person isn't trying to repent in the first place. Such a person doesn't want to be chosen at the outset, and so it won't do to object that he will not desire God because he cannot do so given that he doesn't really want to desire God in the first place. I think that's what sparks Paul's, "But who are you to answer back to God." Spurgeon, I think, is doing something similar here.

It is marvelous to my heart. God is good, I worship Him for both His justice and mercy.

I will admit to being fairly new to reformed doctrine having come to Christ in a more charismatic church. But this seems the issue with this argument is that none of us would want these things by our own nature but only by the grace of God. I could just as easily say that "If he had chosen me to it I would love religion." Couldn't I?

"God gives liberally to all those who desire; and first of all, he makes them desire, otherwise they never would."
So this just backs the question up to, "Why doesn't God make every one desire to be saved, elect, etc."

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