Anyone making a point needs to consider how to begin, continue, and conclude. We could just dive in and figure it out as we go, but planning can be useful; so my plan is to tell you how I was introduced to grace theology, reveal the fiery question that burned my house down, and share with you my discovery of the Bible's grand conclusion about salvation.
While leading the Allied forces in World War II, Winston Churchill said, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Likewise, this is not the end of my book, but it is the end of the introduction. It is also an excellent time to show you the grand conclusion of the Bible.
I first looked to the cross of Jesus Christ for forgiveness the summer before I entered college. I was raised in a churchgoing family, but my sinful behavior through high school drove me to begin a relationship with Christ, based on his forgiveness at the cross. I knew I was a sinner and that Jesus died for sinners, but I still knew very little.
The Lord quickly introduced me to grace theology and discipleship. I learned that salvation is completely unmerited and that Jesus had chosen me for salvation even before my decision to trust him. Frankly, I did not want to be saved that way, and a burning question grew in my mind.
The Bible says Christ died for all mankind, but very few are born again, and apparently most are sentenced to eternal Hell. How could he choose me and not others? Am I certain he did choose me?
I did not understand. Most of my friends and the books I read seemed to slide off one side of the issue or the other. Some suggested that God’s grace only predestined a small subset of mankind to eternal life. Others suggested that Christ died for all mankind, but only those choosing Christ with their free will were finally saved. However, free will proponents appeared to compromise God's grace by saying Jesus did not complete all of our salvation; we need to do the part of choosing. And the Limited Atonement proponents appeared to compromise Jesus' atonement by saying it was for part of mankind and not all. I tried at different times to find rest in one or the other of those answers, but my questions grew, and they darkened my relationship with Christ.
Furthermore, God's grace exposed a much bigger problem. My initial understanding of my sinfulness was incomplete. Biblical grace exposed that my self-righteousness hated God and I certainly hated my unanswered questions. Yet Christ was my only hope!
I searched for an answer. I read the Bible. I read commentaries. I read books. I listened to other Christians. I argued with God. I avoided the question. I focused on serving. Worst of all, I ignored my questions and just went to church.
Eventually the Lord led me to discover and embrace Romans 11:32-36 as the grand conclusion of redemption, grace theology, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has helped me to understand this passage and receive it with joy, and through it he has helped me to be honest about my sin and eager to share the good news. My questions about salvation are fully answered, my confusion is erased, and my love for Christ is restored. It may be that you have a similar question to mine. I hope to help you as I have been helped. So I will begin at the end, at the grand conclusion of salvation in Romans 11:32, and explain this important passage of Scripture to you. I do not claim special revelation or insight, but simply open eyes, through Christ's love, to see and accept what is plainly said.