What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti was fully rocked and wrecked by a massive earthquake. Lacking the kind of military and governmental infrastructure that is required in a natural disaster, not only did many die, as buildings collapsed on them, many more were going to die without clean water, food, and medical supplies.
God was gracious enough to allow me to be on one of the first planes to land in the country bringing medical and other supplies. For the next few days, we traveled the country with armed guard seeking to help pastors, churches, and anyone else we could. The entire country looked like a war zone, and the level of need was completely overwhelming.
One of the doctors on the trip was working tirelessly day and night to save lives. At one point he broke down weeping because he could not save everyone. We comforted him by thanking him for doing all he could, and kindly reminding him that he was a finite human being and could only do a limited amount of good.
Unlike that doctor, our God is unlimited in His power and resources. Theoretically, God could save everyone, yet He does not.
Contrary to the erroneous thinking of some people, predestination reveals how loving God is, for three reasons.
- God predestines some of the most unlovely people. God did not choose only the beautiful, smart, funny, or successful people. In fact, He often chooses the exact kinds of people that no one else would ever choose to love. Scripture says precisely this, “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, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Cor. 1:27–29)
- Because God saves through election, there is hope for those who have never heard about Jesus, for the unborn, for those who died young, and for the mentally challenged. I am in no way encouraging universalism—hell will be filled with unrepentant sinners. But if God chooses who goes to heaven, then I know the result will be more loving than if Satan or sinners made the choice, because God is good.
- The Bible declares that God predestines us, not because of anything merit-worthy in us but solely because of the love in Himself: “In love he predestined us.” (Eph. 1:4-5)
A form of this charge is, “Does not predestination make Christians unloving toward non-Christians?”
Predestination, when rightly understood, should make Christians more loving toward non-Christians. After all, if we know that we are no better, smarter, holier, or more deserving of salvation than anyone else, then we should be compassionate toward non-Christians. It is precisely the sovereign and free nature of God’s predestining grace that should cause us to lay an ax to the root of any religious pride, smugness, and condemnation. When we understand that people are lost because they are sinners, we are compelled to love them because their condition reminds us of the terrible fate that would be ours had God not freely saved us. We are also compelled to love them in hope that, through our love, they would begin to see something of God’s grace in their lives.
What non-Christians has God put in your life to love and serve like Jesus did?
This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s Romans 8-9 commentary Duck Duck Doom. You can get a free e-book copy on our store here.
To find the new, free Romans 6-11 digital study guide for individuals and small groups, hear Pastor Mark’s entire sermon series on Romans, or find a free mountain of Bible teaching visit realfaith.com or download the Real Faith app.