In response to gracEmails about God’s choosing us, an outstanding Bible teacher writes: “My question is not about God’s ability to save us or eternal security. It’s about predestining some regardless of response and, by extension, rejecting others without any response.”
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You agree that God does not, at the End, save those in whose lives, looking back, he sees something good to which he responds by saving. That would make salvation by works or merit and not by grace. It is equally true, according to Romans 8:28-30; 9:14-18; Ephesians 1:5-6; and 2 Timothy 1:9, that God did not, at the Beginning, choose those in whose lives, looking forward, he saw something good to which he responded by choosing. That would make his election by works or merit and not by grace.
I agree that God’s purpose includes our “response” — everyone who hears and learns from the Father comes to Jesus (John 6:44), and God has predestined that those people will become conformed to Jesus’ likeness and live holy and useful lives (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thes. 2:13). This is assured, because God himself works in his people what he wants them to work out, energizing them to will and to do his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13). He also is faithful to complete what he begins (Phil. 1:6).
Those finally lost will all have freely, consciously, intentionally and persistently rejected God’s revelation and grace, however they might have encountered it (Rom. 1:18-26; 2:1-6, 11-12). God is not obligated to save anyone, and everyone finally saved will be an eternal trophy of his overwhelming and gratuitous kindness and mercy (Rom. 9:19-22; Eph. 1:14).
Salvation and damnation are not symmetrical — Scripture blames the lost themselves for their rejection, but it credits God alone for the salvation of those who believe (compare Acts 13:46, 48). Human systems of theology are built on humanly-logical “extensions” that you mention. Since God’s thoughts and ways are beyond our minds to comprehend, we may be content to declare what he has revealed, without “extending” into unknown realms (Rom. 11:33-36).