What about Rom 11:28: As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
It is evident to me from the Scriptures that our salvation does not depend only upon God’s love or his election alone, (as implied by Calvinism), but also upon our faithful and obedient response to his love and his word revealed in Jesus. If salvation depended only on God’s love and sovereign election, then all Israel, i.e. every natural born descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be saved and even all the nations, for we know that God so loved the world – and we know that God chose Israel as the nation through whom his purpose would be revealed and from whom would come the Messiah and Saviour of the world. Neither does our salvation depend entirely upon God’s will alone, but also upon our response – for the Scriptures make very clear that God is not willing that any should perish but that all men be saved.
I believe, contrary to the teaching of Calvinism, that God’s atonement is unlimited in that he died for the sins of the whole world, which means that there remains only one sin for which people will be condemned and that is the sin of treating the Spirit of grace with contempt and for arrogantly and deliberately rejecting the atoning blood of Jesus by which we may be saved (see Hebrews 10:29 and 1 John 2:2).
The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing (wanting or willing) that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
Having contended that our salvation is not only on account of God’s love or election, it remains therefore, that it is by faith that we are justified – and as the apostle James taught, faith is evident through our actions (i.e. obedience to the word of God).
It is also evident that God’s election of Israel was to illustrate his faithfulness to his promises and to his warnings – and this was the case even when his covenant people became unfaithful. In other words, because God remains faithful to his word, his love and mercy cannot negate the harsh and stern warnings concerning the curses that would befall Israel on account of their unfaithfulness and rebellion.
If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself (2 timothy 2:12-13).
Consider the following example in which it says that Jesus loved a pious Jew who was indeed mindful of the Law of Moses, but remained spiritually blind and did not follow Jesus because of his own sense of security in his wealth and his love for the things of this world. It is undeniable that Jesus loved him, but it is also undeniable that he did not forsake everything in order to follow Jesus. The man had asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus gave him the answer but the man was not willing to respond in faith:
“Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Mark 10:20-22).
God indeed loves Israel on account of the patriarchs, as he also so loved the world that he gave his only Son to die for our sins even while we were yet sinners, but that does not assure that all Israel – or the whole world will come to him in faith and be saved. The following passage of Scripture affirms God’s election of Israel, but as we shall also note, (below), God’s election does not only ensure his blessings for their obedience, but also the certainty of his curses for their unfaithfulness and disobedience that his dealing with Israel may serve as a testimony to all nations that God is holy and to be feared.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today” (Deuteronomy 7:6-11).
Preceding this very passage quoted above, in which the Lord affirms his election of Israel, the Lord also said through Moses:
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than you, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. But thus shall you deal with them: you shall break down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and chop down their Asherim and burn their carved images with fire”
God’s election of Israel is unconditional and his call is irrevocable, but it is not the called and chosen who are saved, it is the called, chosen and faithful who will be saved (see Revelation 17:14). Judas Iscariot was called and chosen, but he did not remain faithful – and this should confirm that salvation is not by election.
…many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him (John 6:66-71).
From the above we may now begin to appreciate and understand Paul’s teaching: God made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning Abraham’s descendants – and God is indeed faithful to his promises. However, not all of the (natural) descendants of Abraham are faithful and God will prune Israel for his Name’s sake – and indeed the unfaithful, disobedient and wicked people will be cut off (as also taught in Romans 11). The Lord also said through Moses that he would provoke Israel to envy by inviting people from other nations, who were previously cut off from Israel, to be engrafted and fully included among his people – as was Caleb, the Kenizzite, who received his inheritance with the tribe of Judah.
They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol, devours the earth and its increase, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains (Deuteronomy 32:21-22 [see Romans 10:19])
The Lord has chosen Israel, but not unconditionally and not without expecting from them faithfulness, obedience and repentance – all of which is measured by their response to Jesus – by which the secrets of their hearts are also exposed. (If they really incline their ear to what God is saying, they will come to Jesus – but if they claim to worship God but hate Jesus, it reveals an insincerity and actual hatred towards God because God is making himself and his purpose known in and through Jesus). Jesus said if they reject him then it is one and the same as rejecting the Father who sent him.
Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—…” (John 6:43-45).
“Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause’” (John 15:23-25).
And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed…” (Luke 2:33-34).
Israel, having been chosen by God for his purposes, was not only elected for salvation, but many in Israel were destined to stumble. Judgement and wrath was destined to come upon the Jew first as a warning to all nations – (as indeed happened with the fall of Jerusalem within the very generation of Jesus’ coming – see Romans 2:9).
The fact that many were destined to stumble and fall, was not only to show the extent of God’s stern judgement but also his mercy in that none fell beyond recovery – and the gospel was proclaimed throughout Israel giving many the opportunity to repent and to believe and thereby be restored to the holy nation from which they were cut off on account of their unbelief. This is why, in the passage under consideration ((Romans 11:28-32), Paul wrote that all were handed over to disobedience so that all may be restored by freely responding to God’s mercy:
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all (Romans 11:28-32).
However, having been handed over to disobedience, if they are too proud to admit and to confess their sin of unbelief then unfortunately they remain cut off and will die in their sin. This is why Paul rebuked Peter in the way that he did by saying, “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:15-16).