What does Paul mean when he says there is a chosen remnant of people who have been saved by grace? This single verse has caused a significant difference of opinion between Christians, on the one hand there are those who support the doctrine of predestination, there are also those who support the idea of free will. Yet, no matter which camp you fall into, this passage speaks of hope. I cannot argue one way or the other, indeed I do not know enough about the theoretical or theological meanings of these ideas to understand fully the implications they have on a person’s life or faith. I think, though, that one of the reasons that this is a debate, though, is because of our limited understanding of God, just as we do not fully understand the love that provides the hope to this passage.
Paul assures us that we have been saved by grace, not by works. Paul is not saying, by any means, that we should not work our hardest, that we should not try to work in order to bring honor to God; no, it is because of grace that we should. But, at the same time, we do not need to do work to be saved, and that is what makes it a hard concept. I cannot remember the last time I did something for someone without expecting something in return, even if that return was not physical or immediate. Even in our friendships we do things because we know that our friends will be there for us. The human understanding of love, in its fullest, best, sense, is founded upon the idea of a two-way street. Just as we do not understand how God can be both all-knowing and give us free will, neither can we understand how God is able to love us so fully. God does not need the assurance of our gratitude or love, in fact He knows that, at times, we will lash out, or question, or even deny Him; he offers us salvation regardless. The saving grace shown to us cannot be earned, only accepted, and no matter what we do we cannot earn it.
May we find the strength to truly give without expecting anything in return.