Category Archives: Election and predestination

You asked: how can I know I am elect?

Reader Question: From a Reformed perspective (I am relatively new to this thinking in many ways), assuming the Doctrine of Election is true (I believe this to be true myself), what is the role of parenting? Knowing that there is no way to know whether or not your children are “elect”, how can a loving parent subject his children to Biblical teaching – assuming that teaching could some day be held against them on judgement day? (wouldn’t it be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than those who know the Gospel and don’t respond?). If they are elect anyway, perhaps telling them once and seeing how they respond is better than consistent training?

Again, I am not being facetious or devious- but really struggling through this. I grew up in a church and always assumed I was a Christian. Lately, I have doubted that as I have not seen the Spirit’s activity in my life, nor fully reflect the fruit of the Spirit, nor am I sure that I have fully repented from my sin. You may say to just repent and believe, but I am finding it more difficult than that and wondering whether or not I could possibly not be “elect”. Having sat through countless sermons and podcasts and books, am I more accountable?

Then, I take that to my children and wonder if I teach them the Gospel and they don’t respond, are they destined for a much more difficult eternity? Wouldn’t love for them wish for them to find Christ, yet not subject them to countless hours of instruction knowing that they may not choose that?

I am really confused, discouraged and honestly disheartened. I feel like my efforts to find God or grow closer to Christ or even to repent are “works” of my own and can’t any longer separate the true work of the Spirit from my own efforts.

I guess I am not looking for a counselling session, rather perhaps a perspective on what my responsibility is as a parent from the Reformed perspective. Thanks for your time and consideration on this (you can pray for me as well if you desire- I would not pass on that!).

Dear reader,

Many thanks for your questions, these are real heart-felt issues that we all sometimes struggle with as we seek to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I will try and provide some help on the issue of election before then turning to how this impacts our parenting.

As an opening comment I would say that election can be a very controversial subject and, not rightly handled, thinking deeply about it over a prolonged time can get us tied in knots. In some ways I would compare it to a person’s life assurance policy – it needs to be understood and applied, but then put in the back drawer and not obsessed over. Similarly with election, if not rightly understood and applied, rather than confirming and assuring our faith, it can actually have the opposite effect and undermine and make us doubt our faith. But once, in God’s mercy, we are granted a true understanding of the doctrine, we should allow it to support our devotion and growth, without being the test of it.

It might help to think of election as God’s side of the salvation story. Our side is the call to repent and believe and live a life of obedience in thankful response. From God’s side there are the eternal decrees determining each day of his children’s lives, from our side it is the moment by moment experience of living in this world and responding to his word. From God’s side there is ultimate and supreme sovereignty and freedom of will, from our side there is the wrestling with the sinful nature and the secret work of the Spirit in the inner life. No one can understand both sides of these things. We can see our side, and God has revealed some of his side through the scriptures. But much remains hidden and we must eventually reach a place of trust and submission if we would ever achieve assurance of our faith and peace of conscience.

It’s also important to realise that an assurance of our own faith is something that must be nurtured. Like a flower that will eventually bloom under the right conditions of soil, water and sun, so too our faith will be confirmed if we nurture the means to grow that faith. We will come to hear his Spirit confirming with our spirit that we are the children of God (Romans 8.16). At the moment of first confession we may have been told that we are saved, and some may feel assurance based on this their entire lives, but most of us will question it at some point in our lives. You certainly are at the moment, and this is a healthy thing if done for a season.

I’m sure you have heard and read many sermons and books on assurance of faith, so I’ll not go into that in detail. I just want to outline a few practical thoughts that I have found helpful:

1. The danger of relying on our feelings (and ignoring them completely) – do we feel elect when times are good and doubt our election when times are hard and we sin? The question we need to ask is what do we really believe to be true? Do we really truly believe that Jesus died for my sin – and if we do believe have we honestly asked him to forgive us. If so then we have planted the seed of the word in our hearts – we must then examine ourselves to see if the word is bearing fruit. But what is the fruit that we look for? If we seek perfection then we will be disappointed, if we seek love, joy, peace etc, then we will only see partial fruit, for we all are a pale reflection when it comes to these attributes. Perhaps a better indicator is how our desires, motivations, even feelings are being renewed. Do we grieve for sin when once we could have sinned without a second thought? Do we wish we were a better disciple and become frustrated when we fail? Good – so we should, for our desires are sometimes a better indicators than our characters, for character takes years to cultivate and while desires come and go, the fact that they do come sometimes should encourage us that God is at work.

2. The danger of self-deception – the false disciples of Matthew 7 thought they knew Christ when they only knew about him. Many people in churches will realise on the last day that this is true of them. The key question here is – have I personally appropriated the salvation which is freely given? I preached on this topic last year (click here).

3. The danger of despair – we should recognise that our minds are not infallible and are a battle ground for spiritual warfare – the helmet of salvation as Paul describes it, protects our minds. We should guard against entertaining every doubt, and emulate David in preaching God’s truth to ourselves. Don’t let our insecurities trump the truths of God’s word – for example, God has said “Never will I leave you never will I forsake you” – if we have addressed the first two items above then even though we might not feel in our experience the presence of the Lord, if doesn’t mean it is not true. The same can be said about forgiveness of sin – 1 John 1.9 promises complete and utter forgiveness of confessed sin – even if we don’t feel guiltless, or like we have been forgiven.

4. Sin, doubt or fear does not mean you are unelect – each of us face periods of failure and darkness, but like a life jacket that is pressed under the water, we are inevitably brought back to the surface again by the inner workings of the Spirit. The time to worry is when this no longer happens are we are content to wallow in our sin – then we are in danger of having our consciences seared and proving our profession to be false. If we have (as honestly as we are consciously able to) repented of our sins and confessed Jesus as our Lord, then it comes down to trusting in the promises that God has made to us – not the other way around. The promise is clear – “if you repent in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved” (Romans 10.10). If we do this and then doubt it, it doesn’t render the promise void – “for if we are faith-less, God will remain faithful” (2 Timothy 2.13).

5. The doctrine of election does not necessarily lead to complacency – unfortunately some who have misunderstood election have thought that this gives them a carte blanche to behave how they want. Like those objectors in Romans 6.1 who, after hearing that where sin abounds, grace abounds more said “well lets keep on sinning so that God’s forgiveness looks even better.” Election should be viewed holistically – not just in relation to salvation, but also sanctification and glorification (Romans 8.30). God has elected that we will be those who not only begin the Christian walk, but finish it and we will surely finish it more like Christ than when we began. Moreover, he has elected us to one day be glorified in his presence. God has not only ordained (or elected) the end (Christ-likeness in his presence), but also the means (life by the Spirit through our active obediance Galatians 5.16ff).

6. Works are not all bad – at one point Jesus was asked “what are the works that God requires” and he answered “to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6.28-29). So we see belief is a work of God. Not all works are to be despised, spiritual disciplines are works that can greatly help us in our daily obedience. The works that are condemned are the reliance on these things for acceptance with God. We should, we must, be a people of (godly) works – abundant in our labour of love, but these are in response to the mercy and grace of God, not a way to gain that favour, or even as a means to confirm our election.

Consider this illustration – election is like the engines of a plane, in the same way that the engines power the uplift and flight of the plane and enable it to make progress towards its destination, so our election is the secret working that enables us to believe, preserve and overcome. But if during the flight the pilot decided to stop the engines while he inspected whether they were really working as efficiently as possible, or if they were needing a service, the result would be disastrous. So too with election – our object and goal in life should be a close walk with the Lord Jesus, filled with His Spirit and obeying his commands, not always scrutinising the reality of our faith.

Once we get diverted off this focus, we risk becoming introspective and our focus shifts to ourselves rather than away from ourselves. Yes, there is a time for examination and personal reflection, but constant examination and persistent introspection is more likely to lead to you coming to a complete stop. The Spirit will guide you as you seek God’s face what is required of you at this point in your spiritual journey.

Finally, all this plays itself out in our parenting. In the same way that we cannot fully see God’s side of the salvation story for ourselves, so we cannot see it for our children. We must allow only God to know his ultimate decrees for their lives. We do not have any guarantees for them. Rather we must see that we are seeking to follow our side of the story – doing the things that we have been commanded by God to do – instruct them in the fear and knowledge of the Lord (Deut 6.7-9, Proverbs 22.6, Matthew 19.4). We must use the means God has given us, if we would have the ends that we desire for them. Again I say that I cannot see any guarantee that God has given Christian parents, and as a father of three beautiful, precious children this scares me. But I believe that God is a good God and that as he used the means of Grace in my life to save my at 9 years old, so he is able to bring my children to himself.

But we must seek to move beyond simply indoctrinating them with abstract truths, to demonstrating the reality of our own faith in the life that we live. We must open our hearts to them that they would see our vulnerability and honest struggles. They must see that it is more than a tradition or a culture for us – that it is our lifeblood. We must exhibit the graces and character that we want them to grow towards, to make room for their questions and doubts, to have spontaneous times of prayer and thanksgiving. Oh that God would grant us the immeasurable blessing of believing children and the grace to love them (and him) no matter what happens.

I hope this is of some help for you in your struggles. I pray that the God of all compassion would make himself known to you in such a powerful and real way that your faith is confirmed, your hope renewed and love deepened. In His name, Martyn

PS You can read my four posts on Calvin’s chapters on election and predestination here:

He loves me, he loves me not…

Book 3 Chapter 24 Section 1-17

In the last two chapters we have considered God’s actions before the world was created – his electing purposes before the dawn of time. We can spend our days searching the scriptures to  try and discern what God determined back then, but a more pressing question is, how do I know if I am one of the elect or not? How do these secret decrees and plans become woven into my life? Can I ever know if I am one of the elect? At his heart Calvin is a pastor and as such he is not content to leave his teaching of predestination and election in the recesses of theory. He wants his people to know the assurance of being part of God’s family.

He begins by considering the calling of the elect – the process by which the elect are brought out of their spiritual deadness to newness of life. He recognises that while there is a universal call that extends to all who hear the gospel, within this general call is a special call that the elect hear and respond to. The preaching of the word  when combined with the illumination of the Spirit results in a powerful call able to raise the dead. Those who respond find that God “admits them to his family, and unites them to himself, that they may be one with him.” Calvin wants the called to know that “this inward calling is an infallible pledge of salvation.”

Calvin is also keen to stress that the power of our election is not dependent on the faith by which we perceive we are elected. It is not the strength of our faith that makes our salvation secure, but the strength of the one calling. If we feel unsure as to our election we should “begin with the calling of God and to end with it.” Rather than try and penetrate the hidden recesses of the divine wisdom, which only keeps someone “perpetually miserable”. Calvin summarises it in this way: “For as a fatal abyss engulfs those who, to be assured of their election, pry into the eternal counsel of God without the word, yet those who investigate it rightly, and in the order by which it is exhibited in the word, reap from it rich fruits of consolation.”

Christ is the source and security of our election, “if we are in communion with Christ we have proof sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of Life”. Indeed, Calvin sees little point in looking inwards, for “if we are elected in him, we cannot find the certainty of our election in ourselves”. Christ “would have us to rest satisfied with his promises and not to inquire elsewhere whether or not he is disposed to hear of us.”

Response

The twin perils of election are either to become fascinated with it to the extent of never being sure of our own election, or completely ignoring it as something that is too divisive and too complicated to understand. In this chapter Calvin gives us a middle way – to look to what God has done in us and our union with Christ for the evidence of our election, not at our faultering faith. In this way we can have a healthy approach to the doctrine of election.

By some election is seen as a hinderence to our evangelism. But contrary to this position it should actually drive us to reach out – knowing that the call of God is powerful and will bring the elect to himself wherever Christ is preached. But let us not try and discern who amongst the crowd is elect, for the only person we can ever know for sure whether they are elect or not is ourselves. As we work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling”, we can find assurance that Christ lives within us and has redeemed us. When rightly understood and applied the doctrine of election can bring wonderful assurance and peace to a believer’s life. God wants us to know that we are in his family, he wants us to be sure of his love and our eternal destination. May each of us reach this place of peace and rest so that we are not endlessly wondering whether he loves me, or he loves me not.

“In him we were also chosen, having being predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1-11-12

Where angels fear to tread

Book 3 Chapter 23 Section 1-14

I would doubt that there is any other topic in Christianity that draws forth such strong emotions as the topic of election. Love it or hate it it is the doctrine with which the name of Calvin has become synonymous. After reading these chapters in the Institutes I can see why! The few chapters which speak of election and reprobation must have been revolutionary at the time and even today their impact is undiminished. Election is a double-sided coin – on one side the comforting thought that God chooses a people for himself, but on the other side, the disturbing question of what happens to those outside this group?  Whatever our answer to this question (if we attempt to provide one) it is certainly a deep mystery.

In this chapter Calvin addresses the issue of those outside the family of God and various solutions that have been proposed to how God treats them before the world began:

  • Admit election but deny reprobation. Firstly, Calvin speaks to those who believe in saving election but deny that God intentionally predestines anyone to destruction. Calvin believes this is inconsistent with how the bible speaks of God’s actions on the wicked. For example the hardening that is spoken of in Romans 9 of Pharaoh’s heart. Here God is active in confirming Pharaoh’s stubbornness and sealing his condemnation. Calvin extrapolates this case to apply to the rest of the non-elect – but is this a fair deduction? Is this going further than Paul in Romans 9? If not then what alternatives are there in how God acts?
  • God waits in suspense. Calvin next deals with those who think this issue can be solved by proposing that God purposefully elects some to salvation, but leaves the others to make their own way. God is portrayed here as a bystander, with no final decision on the non-elect, but waiting to see if any seek him. But this implies that some who have not been elected could, by some unknown means, find their way to God. But this is at odds with everything we know of man’s inability to seek for God. It is also at odds with what we understand of God’s providence, where nothing is uncertain.
  • Permits but doesn’t will. Well perhaps God allows the non-elect to die without Christ, but doesn’t purposefully decree it. This view would say that the Pharaoh example mentioned above is a unique event and normally God would not actively harden the hearts of unbelievers – he just doesn’t intervene to stop them being condemned. Again this view does not sit with what we know of God’s providence – particularly our previous discussion on suffering. There is nothing in all of creation that is simply “allowed” to happen.
  • Intentionally decrees. So we are back to where we started, does God elect some to death before they are even born? The human logic of a biblical theologian may say that this is the most logical given what we read in Romans 9 and what we know of God’s providence. But is it beyond what the bible itself teaches? Even Paul does not go this far – he puts the question out there (Romans 9.22-24, assuming it is a question in the original!!) but then doesn’t answer it as far as I can see. Paul challenges us to consider the implications of God creating objects of wrath, whose destruction glorifies his name amongst the elect, but then moves on to the gathering of the Gentiles (v25-33).

I find myself agreeing with Calvin’s statement that “believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge.” There are some things that remain hidden in the mind of God that it is best not to delve into too far or speculate about too excessively, based only on logic and not scripture. In a wonderful section Calvin directly addresses the reader and is lost in wonder and amazement at the height and depth of the hidden counsel of God – “O the height! Peter denies, a thief believes. O the height! Do you ask the reason? I will tremble at the height. Reason you, I will wonder; dispute you, I will believe. I see the height, I cannot sound the depth. Paul found rest because he found wonder.”

Response

Consider the following illustration. What is there was a ship sinking in the sea and you had a lifeboat with room for 50 people. You can choose any 50 to rescue from the ship but have to leave the rest behind. How would you choose who to bring – it wouldn’t be based on the character of their lives for you don’t know them. You would have to make a quick decision who to rescue. But as you sail away from the thousands left on the boat you would feel that you did all you could – you only had limited resources and acted in kindness to rescue innocent victims of a disaster. This is a completely understandable human action – nobody would blame you for not helping the ones left for you only had space for 50 people.

But what if you did have the resources? What if instead of being “innocent” the people needing rescuing were actually your sworn enemies? Imagine a U-boat sinking in the North Sea during WWII, and you are passing by on your British Destroyer. As you near them there are thousands swimming away from the sinking ship – those same soldiers that hours before were killing your friends. How would we react now? Would we be unjust to keep on sailing by? Would we stop and save every last enemy? In the spectrum of human reaction, both could be justified from a certain perspective. Both responses would incite criticism from people on shore – what would we do in the heat of battle? This is a flawed illustration, but it begins to put the question in context.

Does God have the ability to save everyone? Certainly it is within his power to save all if he so chose. By having the ability to save all and not doing so God is leaving many to their destruction. The question is – does God do this by default or intentionally? I.e. does he deliberately determine that some will be lost or is this just a by-product of his saving of others (as in the lifeboat example above)? As Paul I leave the question out there.

“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.” Ecclesiastes 5.2-3

Amen! Give us a healthy fear of you Father, for your wisdom is immeasurable, your justice unfathomable and your love unscalable.

The Good, the Bad and the Elect

Book 3 Chapter 22 Section 1-11

In Calvin’s second chapter on election and predestination we are taken through the scriptural justifications for this doctrine. Calvin begins by challenging us to remember that God is ultimately free in every regard – even including the incarnation. Why do we not complain that it was unfair of God to choose to only fill Christ with all his fullness? “He did not become the Son of God by living righteously, but was freely presented with this great honour.” If concede that God was free in this respect, then it is inconsistent to complain when that freedom also includes his eternal electing purposes concerning us. In his decisions, either he is free with all, or not at all.

How were the elect chosen? Was it with a view to those who would respond to the call of God? Many would claim that “God distinguishes between men according to the merits which he foresees that each individual is to have, giving the adoption of sons to those whom he foreknows will not be unworthy of his grace, and dooming those to destruction whose dispositions he perceives will be prone to mischief and wickedness.” Thus, foreknowledge is used as the cause of election, ultimately having its foundation in our good or bad works. This leaves mankind as the ultimate decider of their election.

Calvin emphatically rejects this view, turning to Paul to exemplify his arguments. When Paul says in Ephesians 1.4-9 and 1 Timothy 2.9 that election precedes divine grace Calvin argues “how can it be consistently be said that things derived from election are the cause of election?” Again, he states that “two things are evidently inconsistent – that the pious owe it to election that they are holy, and yet attain to election by means of works.” Thus our good or bad works cannot be the ground for our election.

From considering the explicit teaching of Paul, Calvin turns to individual examples to illustrate how this doctrine works out practically. He reminds us that God is no respecter of the natural order in his electing purposes – overlooking Ishmael and Esau, both firstborn sons, to favour Isaac and Jacob, respectively. “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” Jesus says to the 12, and yet even amongst those who held the great privilege of apostleship, one demonstrated that he was not elect. Thus, God takes no account of office in his electing purposes; the only determining factor is his free will and sovereign plan.  

Response

The reason we struggle so much with this teaching is firstly because we feel the illusion of freedom and secondly, we cannot comprehend the idea that our fate is fixed before we are even born. We daily choose what food to eat and what clothes to wear. We choose where to live, who to marry and what to do with our money. But are we really free to choose God? Can we cause him to come near to us at our beck and call? Can we choose to love him at any point in our lives? We feel free but we are not when it comes to spiritual things. We are at the mercy of the unseen Spirit revealing himself to our human minds. Our freedom is real but limited, we are not the ultimate source of freedom in the universe.

This makes me wonder whether there can be more than one truly free entity in the universe? Perhaps the deists would claim so, but logically there cannot be two completely free agents. Two equal forces would suggest that neither is free for they are both limited by the other. To be really free is to be without limit or restraint in action, power or wisdom.  It is worth remembering that God would be completely unknowable had he not revealed himself. His ways are mysterious and wonderful and they are certainly free. Who can tell him not to do something, or make him do what they require? Who can stop his plans, or alter his purposes? The amazing thing is that this completely free and limitless God, deliberately, decisively, chose to take a people from among the mass of lost mankind and keep them for himself.

Although it grates to think that our eternal destiny is fixed before we are born, in reality because this knowledge on a personal level is hidden from us we should not claim that God is unjust. There are many things in life that are determined for us before we are born – our parents, our nationality, our physical appearance, our intelligence. All these greatly affect our enjoyment of our life and yet (for many of us) we accept our lot once we arrive in the world. If God had told us when we were born “there is nothing you can do, you are not one of the chosen so don’t even try”, then we would have had reason to charge him with injustice. But God has done exactly the opposite – everyone who hears the gospel is called to come to him. His arms are open wide, desiring that all may come to him for safety. Will you come to him today and as you come you will find that there is a room in his mansion already with your name on it. He knew you were coming and made sure that everything was ready for you.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Who has every given to God that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen” Romans 11.33-36

How to adore the silence of God

Book 3 Chapter 21 Section 1-7

“As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, February 2002.

So reads one of the most memorable quotes of recent years. I was reminded of this quote when reading the first in four of Calvin’s chapters on election and predestination (chapters 21-24). I think Calvin would agree that there are many things within the sovereign election of God that we know we know, there are a lot of other things that we know we don’t know, and there are some things we don’t even realise we don’t know….confused? We’ve only just started!

Calvin begins by emphasising the purpose of God in revealing these truths to us, even if we do not understand their full depth. The teaching has two aims – to humble us, making us feel how much we are bound to him, and, secondly, to give a sure ground to our confidence in him. God’s desire is not that our understanding of election leads us to insecurity or idle speculation, but a firm and secure faith. If we are trusting in Christ’s death and resurrection then we are safe, for Christ “promises safety to all that the Father hath taken under his protection.”

Secondly Calvin states that we should not be ashamed to embrace the revealed truths of scripture. God makes it clear that there are some things that he has hidden from us (for his own reasons) and there are other things that he has expressly made clear (Deuteronomy 29.29). We should not be afraid to admit our ignorance in certain issues – such as this present topic. As he elegantly states “let us not be ashamed to be ignorant in a matter in which ignorance is learning.”

But there are those who say the potential implications of teaching this doctrine – that God choose a people before time began to be his and in time redeemed them through no goodness or works of their own – are too dangerous. They say it should be not be mentioned in case people fall into the traps of endless curiosity or proud presumption. While Calvin recognises the need for moderation (indeed these four chapters represent only a small proportion of his total teaching in the Institutes), he exhorts us to speak when scripture speaks and remain silent when scripture is silent. To leave no teaching of scripture neglected and no curiosity of man entertained.

He sums as a general rule that “the secret things of God are not to be scrutinised, and that those which he has revealed are not to be overlooked, lest we may on the one hand be chargeable with curiosity, and on the other, with ingratitude.” We should be thankful to God for what he has chosen to reveal, even if it is it not as much as we would want to know.

Response

How hard it is to maintain this balance that Calvin strives for – the balance of scripture. To expound those passages that speak of the call of God to all mankind, alongside those which speak of the blessedness of the chosen flock. Our task is not to join the dots, but rather to preach the whole counsel of God. Let us not shirk back from the glorious passages on election, just because we cannot answer every question that the teaching raises. If it is true it must be preached, if it is done with love and balance, God will honour the results.

This topic challenges us to come back to examine our knowledge of ourselves – are we too proud to allow God secrets from us? Do we demand that the creator God explains all his actions and justifies his every move to his creatures? Whether we would like this or not, this is not the God we worship. This doctrine is despised by many today, but for those within the family of God, submission and worship are the only right response.

We have been shown a tiny glimmer of the majesty of the divine wisdom and the blinding light almost makes us feel as though we would be better in the darkness. But what would our faith rest upon without the assurance provided by this teaching? We would be an insecure people, constantly fretting and worrying. God had good reason to reveal a glimpse of his eternal plan for his people – let us respond in wonder and adoration that he not only chose us before the beginning of the world to be his, but he also told us that is what he did through his word. Rightly taught this teaching brings great strength and security to the people of God. Let us not neglect it when we have the opportunity to teach it.

“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5.2

“But who are you, O man to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him 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 noble purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9.20+21

Father, here is where humility is needed most in your people, we tread on holy ground for you have condescended to let us touch the hem of your robe and understand something of your eternal plan. May we not be ungrateful but thankful that you deemed to reveal so much of your secret ways. Amen.