Susan Boyle was the 47-year old Scottish woman who applied to the TV show Britain’s Got Talent. When she presented herself, the judges and the crowd didn’t believe she could sing. She didn’t look like a singer. When she talked, she didn’t sound like a singer. Then she started singing.

Susan Boyle was chosen as a finalist, although she was not the kind of finalist you would expect.

When God saves people, whom does he choose to save?

1) God chooses whomever he pleases.

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16)

2) God chooses the minority.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

3) God chooses people you don’t expect.

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…” (I Corinthians 1:27-28)

Susan Boyle did not look like a singer, but she proved she could sing, so people accepted her. In contrast, God sees us as foolish and weak and low and despised. We have all fallen short of his glory and cannot prove otherwise.

We could never expect God to accept us on our own merit. Yet if you are born again, he has chosen you. To what end?

“… so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1:29)

Susan Boyle has something to boast about—her singing. Christians have nothing to boast about, because our new song comes from God. Everything we have comes from him through Jesus.

Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

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About Ben Kwok

Ben is part of a church plant team establishing the Rouse Hill Church. He holds a Master of Divinity degree. Ben and his wife Diahanna live in Sydney, Australia with their four young children.


  1. PJ 16 June, 2010 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    Well set out piece – thanks Ben. (Who would’ve thought Susan Boyle could be worked into an article about election!)

    You’ve argued that “God chooses whomever He pleases” to save, do you think He also chooses which individuals He will not save?

    Calvin certainly beleived this – “All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death.” (Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 21)

  2. Ben Kwok 17 June, 2010 at 8:31 am - Reply

    I think the Bible puts more emphasis on the sinner’s responsibility for his sin, not on “double predestination.” God also says He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and He invites all to repentance. (“Whosever will, let him come.”)

    What do you think?

  3. PJ 17 June, 2010 at 9:18 am - Reply

    I agree on the emphasis we find in the Scriptures and I think “double predestination” is a bridge too far. On this point I part ways with Calvin and the Westminster Standards.

    I guess I struggle with reconciling the call that God makes to all to repent and believe the Gospel (“Whosever will, let him come”) with the idea that God has only chosen a few individuals to be saved – the whole ‘general call’ / ‘efficacious call’ dichotomy.

    The position outlined in your article is more in line with the approach taken in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and other moderately ‘Calvinistic’ confessions – those that teach a single decree of predestintation to salvation and remain silent on the question of a second decree of predestination to eternal death.

    This, like your previous post on the KJV-only error is another one of those touchstone issues in fundamental circles that people tend to have strong feelings and opinions about.

  4. Alen Basic 20 June, 2010 at 12:33 am - Reply

    The Bible never charges God with sin, it only incriminates man. Since this is clearly laid out in Scripture it really does my head in when we through God’s sovereignty.

    If God elects men to salvation than He is also by deduction not choosing people for election and therefore choosing them for damnation.

    If God works all things according to His purposes, how does man’s sin fit into the picture? Adam’s fall? Does God make them sin?

    I think too often we try to “pigeon hole” God, that is to say we try to make Him fit into some logical formula we can understand when He is an infinite God whom for us would be impossible to comprehend.

    As said already, keep the same emphasis Scripture does.

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