“What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,” (Romans 11:7, ESV)
I had mentioned earlier in Romans regarding the doctrines of sovereign grace, election and predestination that there are certain things that go beyond the ability of finite human intellect to reconcile. Here we come to this again. Paul states that only the elect obtained mercy. The word elect, ekloge, refers to the act of choosing. It indicates that God chose some to salvation.
Further, Paul indicated that the rest were hardened. This hardening is explained in verses 8-10. Isaiah wrote, “(God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;)” (Romans 11:8, KJV 1900) Since all people are born with hardened hearts, and only God can soften the heart, this is a matter of God not enlightening them to the truth.
David stated, “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.” (Romans 11:9–10, KJV 1900) The table indicates they had every blessing from God necessary to understand and yet their darkened eyes and deaf ears prevented them from receiving the truth. David goes on to say that those who rejected the truth would have their backs bent forever, referring to eternal judgment.
Here is the difficulty. If man is responsible for the decisions he makes and only God can change man’s heart to understand and believe, it seems that there is some sort of incompatibility between God’s election and man’s personal responsibility. Let me just say that there is no incompatibility in these. The Bible clearly teaches both. They are compatible. The problem is that in our finite understanding we are incapable of reconciling these infinite truths.
The Scriptures present ample evidence of the doctrines of God’s election and man’s personal responsibility for the choices he makes. Our best conclusion is that, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” and all who do make this choice to call on Him are the elect.