The Joy of Romans 11:32

It doesn't end this way. Not even close.
It doesn’t end this way. Not even close.

My wife’s Bible study this morning led her to ask me a question, which led us into a discussion, which led me to Romans 11:32 —

“For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.”

I love that verse. The whole passage–really, chapters–leading up to Romans 11:32 are worthwhile, of course, but for me that verse is the kicker. It also lays a foundation for helping some who don’t understand into the truth of the Last Great Day and the Great White Throne Judgment.

I’ve often argued–both in person and on the telecast–that Paul’s statements  that “all Israel shall be saved” (v.26a) and the blindness of the Jews, about which he was expounding, makes no sense if this life is the only age of forgiveness. Even Jesus Christ’s own words point to a future age of forgiveness, though they are often missed in the glare of the implications of an unpardonable sin: “…it will not be forgiven him in this age, or in the age to come.” After all, his inclusion of the concept of no forgiveness for some in the age to come wouldn’t make as much sense if there were no forgiveness for anyone in the age to come.

But back to Romans 11:32… Paul’s comments about God’s willingness to allow spiritual blindness to remain in some cases and to overtake some so that, in the end, He can extend mercy in an even greater fashion is simply nonsensical without the concept of a general resurrection of the dead in which forgiveness will be made available. Really–think about it. If all we do is die and go to heaven or hell (which we don’t, thankfully! Watch this and read this!) regardless of what we have been allowed to understand in this age, then how in the world is it merciful for God to allow multiple generations to pass in ignorance of salvation–as Paul clear explains He does–when it means that will be condemned to an eternal hellfire for it? How is that an example of God “hav[ing] mercy on all”? Are the countless generation of Jews to whom Paul’s words have applied over the centuries simply not a part of the “all” Paul is talking about? Is God willing to doom the 1000 to eternal torture, without hope of escaping it, for the sake of the 1?

Or is His plan bigger than that? When He says through Paul that He has committed entire generations and peoples to disobedience, allowing them to continue in their unenlightened ignorance, for the sake of ultimately having mercy on all of them, does He mean it? I believe He means it. And the idea that they are dead forever without hope of living again and learning the truth crashes against the rock of the plain meaning of Romans 11:32.

Now, the mechanics of why things work out better this way, I won’t pretend to know for a certainty. I’m happy to plead “know in part” on this matter. 🙂 I could hypothesize and speculate to my heart’s content (and, frankly, I often do so on this particular matter), but I know that His ways are higher than I can imagine with my little pea brain, so I don’t blow a fuse when I realize that I may not know for sure.

Even Paul, who spoke, er, wrote the words of Romans 11:32 seems to have a sense of that. The words of his that immediately follow that verse seem, to me, to reflect his own comprehension that the beautiful truth of Romans 11:32 takes him to the edge of his understanding concerning the Planning God… a God whose understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5), and whose plans possess qualities of profound mercy and wondrous grandeur which seem to mutually excel each other:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

I can hardly think of a more glorious idea that would in any way be more worthy of such exclamations of wonder and praise than the all-encompassing Plan of God. Who can blame Paul for being so moved? Not me.

I know for most of the few of you out there who read this post, you already understand the beautiful truth we celebrate on the Last Great Day. But in the event there is anyone who comes across it who does not, you owe it to yourself to read the free booklet, Is This the ONLY Day of Salvation?

Click to read or request a copy
Click to read or request a copy

8 thoughts on “The Joy of Romans 11:32

  1. Now, the mechanics of why things work out better this way, I won’t pretend to know for a certainty. I’m happy to plead “know in part” on this matter. 🙂 I could hypothesize and speculate to my heart’s content (and, frankly, I often do so on this particular matter), but I know that His ways are higher than I can imagine with my little pea brain, so I don’t blow a fuse when I realize that I may not know for sure.

    Strange… while it’s taken me 54 years (counting my whole earthly life) to get as far as I have in understanding it, the farther I get, the more I understand there simply is no other way which could possibly work. How do I know this? God’s ways are past our finding out – but they’re not past His revealing them to us or our asking Him about them (some verses in Psalm 25 encourage me here, to say nothing of the Sermon on the Mount). And one way I ask is to imagine not only what could happen within the framework of what God has revealed, but what could happen in frameworks where God tried some other way to save mankind.

    Nothing else would work. Nothing. Of that, I am now sure. And so I think the Devil tries all the harder to say to me, “Yes, but it’s not going to happen that way. It’s the only way you could win the game of life, death and entropy, but the game is unwinnable. You’re all doomed. You have no hope. You’ll die, and that’s it. Everything else is fantasy. You can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t even get out of the game.”

    To which I say, “I know where that attack is coming from in my mind, and in Jesus’ name, I’ll resist it tooth and nail until God proves you wrong in fact and not just in faith. Indeed, He’s done so already, in Jesus Christ who now lives in me.”

  2. Reblogged this on The Hind of the Dawn and commented:
    Given the way the human psyche has been created by God and observed by man, that alone proves to me that no other way could work. Either God saves man this way, or not at all. Thank God He reveals the framework in the Bible for us and grants some few of us to watch the game unfold with assurance of how the game will end.

  3. Seems as if you’ve pulled the FIRST loose thread out of the sweater. You know, it’s hanging out there, so you pull, or snap it to break it off. But, instead it keeps coming out of the sweater in what seems like a never ending thread! Some call it the peeling of an onion, etc.

    Too many are afraid to pull further thinking the whole sweater will come apart. Just learn to knit and all will be just fine. Another analogy would be, “to see things thru a glass darkly.”

    Isn’t it amazing what the Father has done and will do that the world at this time just cannot grasp!

    And, it’s also amazing what a wife can inspire. You don’t suppose they were created to be a “fitting helper” do you?

  4. Norbert

    I think one of the bigger motivations in all people’s lives is a desire for justice, not only for themselves but for the entirety of mankind. Rev 15:3-4

  5. Wallace G Smith wrote: “Now, the mechanics of why things work out better this way, I won’t pretend to know for a certainty. I’m happy to plead “know in part” on this matter.”

    I don’t know that we will ever learn the “mechanics” of such things with 100% certainty on this side of the Kingdom, but I do believe there are enough principles throughout the Bible to afford us an insight as to why some things must be the way they are. Jer 17:9 comes to mind here. From my own struggles with sin, I can attest that the human heart indeed is desperately ill with sin and deceitful beyond measure. Indeed, who can understand it or know the cure? I sometimes want to throw my hands up because I can relate to Paul’s sentiments that I cannot understand my own carnal nature. Therefore, how difficult is it to understand what others struggle with?

    I should point out, though, that Jeremiah doesn’t leave us hanging. Jer 17:10 tells us Who tests the hearts and minds and repays for what was known and done. In a very real sense, there is not only the justice of God but also a hint at the cure. “Who can know it?” God! He is teaching the few now so that they can apply lessons to how fickle the heart is to those in the future.

    The mechanics might not be clear and far above our current pay grades, but I think the important principles are. The mechanics will be made clear when it is time to be made clear, and for now that should remind us of why we must be humble before God (which appears to be exactly what you are doing, BTW, lest anyone read any unintentional criticism in my comment).

  6. No disagreement, here, marchhare! Actually, it’s funny you bring up Jer. 17:9-10. I often fear that I mention that passage so often that those in my congregations may get tired if hearing it! But I really believe it provides such insight into our natural state (of course: my natural state!) and how little we can trust our own unaided observations, paired with such powerful hope that God has not left us to our own devices and is willing and able to provide us the truthful insight we need.

    Thanks much for your comments!

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