I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,
Romans 9:1-3 NASB
I guess my first thought when reading this passage is how could Paul even think this thought? To lay down ones life for a friend is one thing, but to contemplate giving up ones own salvation for another does not even seem fathomable. Not for a believer who knows what this sacrifice would mean.
So my next question is why did Paul think such a thought and why did God’s Holy Spirit bare witness, and have him communicate it to us? The only answer that I could possibly think to be correct is that Paul was nuts, (going off his meds), or he was expressing the heart of God for His people. This is in fact the only answer that makes total sense. It makes sense because Jesus did in fact take our sin and enter Sheol on behalf of these unbelieving Jews and all the rest of mankind. Paul here must be expressing God’s own love and His heart for His own people.
So, I have one other question, and a couple of observations. First the question. If God predestined that these individuals actually be unbelievers, rather than that they have chosen to be among those who wind up as unbelievers; then why is His heart broken over them?
The Lord has in more than one passage stated His desire for all men to be saved.
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 NASB
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 NASB
These scriptures certainly support the “For God so loved the world” verse in John 3. So given the fact that scripture certainly teaches both predestination, and also God’s desire for all to be saved I would make the following observation. Based on scripture one who believes in inerrancy can conclude both predestination and man’s God given freedom to choose to be true to the word, but it would seem to be impossible to believe that the future of all men is predetermined allowing man no freedom to choose Him or not choose Him when He calls; and yet to also believe that all of scripture is inerrant.
Two totally contradictory truths cannot be taught by God and still be truth, unless there is a total misunderstanding of one or both.
So either God’s predestination is misunderstood or God’s desire for His creation to be saved is not understood. But why would God express to us a desire that any be saved, and why would He be patient awaiting those salvations Himself, if He has already predetermined each one individually?
But on the other hand had He predetermined on the one hand that all men who choose Christ when called by Him would be saved, and on the other that all men who reject Him when He calls would be rejected by Him; then all contradiction is avoided.
A final question, does believing this way really make void God’s grace in salvation as many obviously believe?
May God bless you as you ponder these things.