A good message at church yesterday, except for the elephant in the room—God. Consider his behavior as taught in the book of Romans:
“There will be … glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism” Romans 2:10-11).
But a few chapters later, Paul writes, “For he (God) says to Moses, ‘For I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not therefore depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).
To make sure we don’t miss the point, chapter 9 illustrates God’s favoritism (aka election) with several stories from the Old Testament underscoring the fact that his sovereign choice has nothing whatsoever to do with our conduct.
Which is it?
… God does not show favoritism.
… God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
According to verse 20, we’re not supposed to ask God about this. “But who are you O man to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, Why did you make me like this?” So we ask each other and come up with as many poor solutions as there are pious theologians. That’s because this is not a paradox but an antinomy, and a discouraging one at that.
Which may be why most people don’t think about it.