Are We Beyond Hope?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, September 19, 2015 0 comments

by Nathan Buck

Have you ever had a discussion with someone who refused to see facts? Have you ever tried to help someone out of a jam, who absolutely saw no connection between their decisions and where they ended up? Have you tried to reason with that person who just insists that 2+2 equals something other than 4?

Ok, some of you who said 'yes' may be parents of teenagers - and yes this may still apply to your situation too.

Read Romans 11:1-10, and pay particular attention to how Paul discusses grace. He uses an example from Israel's history in order to help us understand God's perspective on their current situation. Has God rejected the Jews as a people? No. Has he rejected the rest of us as a people? No. God's grace causes Him to extend the opportunity for us to see the truth of our situation and to enter into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

His grace also allows us to reject the opportunity. We cannot earn His love and restoration; it is GIVEN by His grace. We can, however, reject it. And when we do, what happens?

A number of years ago, I counseled a young man who liked to argue and fight. He would get angry with someone over the slightest offense, and 90% of the time the offense was created by his imagination more than reality. When I would sit down with him and try to draw out the poison, it would a take an exhausting amount of effort and graciousness to sift through the bitter twists and turns of his perceptions - to get to the root of where it began. Usually, the beginning of the offense was as simple as a comment taken wrong, or a look from across the room that was perceived as condescending. Eventually, even my counsel was rejected in favor of the delusions, and I was added to the list of people he chose not to trust.

From perceived offense, to anger and defensiveness, to complete rejection of relationship, is a quick progression when someone refuses to consider facts in context and rejects the sincerity of someone's friendship. Once mistrust settles in, regardless of how it started, it becomes like hardened stone inside of us. We continually layer on more reasons and justifications for why we are right to be offended and against that person or situation. This, to me, is the process of our hearts hardening. It can happen in relationships, in politics, in religious worldviews, in social media, basically anywhere and with anything or anyone. It is what I believe is being described by Paul in verses 7-10: the hardening, the blindness, the trap.

If you read the context of the quote in verses 7-8, you will see what I mean. Paul quotes from Isaiah 29:10 and shares the end result of what happened to those who rejected God. The previous verses in that chapter tell us how they got to that result. God graciously offered and held out hope for them to draw near to Him, trust Him, and live according to His ways. And they consistently gave lip service to what was good, while doing whatever they wanted. They persisted in rejecting God no matter how He graciously warned them or counseled them. And then the passage says, "He gave them a spirit of stupor," blindness and deafness to what was really true. Paul calls this "God hardening them," or hardening their hearts.

It would be easy to say, "It's not my fault" if God randomly hardened some people's hearts against Truth and only let certain others be receptive to it. But it seems clear that God does not randomly harden a heart. He will allow us to become resolved in our rebellion and face the full consequences. God's grace offers Truth, freedom, and life to those willing to receive it. (It is offered even to the rebellious.)

As I discussed last week, God holds out hope for those who might yet accept Him, and He persistently extends grace. He also allows rebellion to bring consequences. And He may even intensify rebellion, in those who resist all hope of believing, in order to help others believe.

Take some time and reflect on these questions:
Am I living by what is true, or am I convincing myself of what I think is true?
Where is my heart hardened against God or something I disagree with in the Bible?
Is anyone beyond hope for God's grace?
Are there people or groups I have no hope for?

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.