One of the most amazing things about salvation is that it comes about through the call of God, and that call is irrevocable.
Paul clearly illustrates this through Israel. He talked about how Israel had hardened their hearts to God despite all he had said and done. He then asks,
Did God reject his people? (11:1a)
By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. (11:1b)
In other words, how can you say God has rejected the Jews when I myself, a Jew, have been saved?
He then says something interesting.
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. (11:2)
Paul’s saying here, “There’s no way you can say God has rejected his people because he chose them knowing full well that many would harden their hearts against him. That many would reject him. And that many would crucify his Son.”
It’s not as if God said, “Whoa, I didn’t see that coming. I guess I have to reject them now.”
Rather, he knew beforehand that though many would reject him, nevertheless, there would always be those who were his. How could he know this? Because he had chosen them before creation to be saved. As God told Elijah when Elijah complained he was the only one following God,
I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. (11:4)
And Paul says of the Jews of his day too,
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. (5)
Paul then reveals the plan of salvation God had made from the very beginning. That the Jews would reject their Messiah, and so the gospel would be taken to the whole world, and many would receive it and become God’s children. Then the Jews would see this and be filled with longing for that kind of relationship. They would remember that God had initially chosen them for that kind of relationship. They would then become angry at themselves for throwing away what had been theirs and would turn to God, and they too would be saved. In fact, it seems the day will come when all Jews will come to recognize Jesus as Messiah and be saved (11:26-27).
Paul then reminds us,
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. (11:28)
In other words, the Jews were persecuting the Christians for following Christ. But God still loved the Jews and was planning to save them. Why? Because of what they had done? No. Because he had set his love upon them for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. More, God made his promises to them, and he will never break them.
That’s why Paul could say,
For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (11:29)
The good news for us? His gifts and his call on us are irrevocable too. He knew us before we were born. He knew what doubts we’d have. He knew what failures we’d have. And he chose us anyway.
So let us never fear that God will reject us because of our doubts and failures. As with Israel, his call on us is irrevocable. And as Paul said in another letter, what God has started, he will complete. (Philippians 1:6)