Thursday, April 23, 2015

Re-Post: "Relying On Grace"

One objection to universal salvation is that if there is no threat of Hell, we do not find ourselves 'relying totally' on God's grace for our salvation. In other words, for these people, salvation has two parts: the giving of God's grace (which is ostensibly a free gift), and the receiving of that grace, which is us relying on it. So there is indeed something for us to do in the economy of salvation: we must rely totally on God's grace.

Now for the believer in universal salvation recognizes, hopefully, that it is only by God's power that we are saved, and specifically God's power as demonstrated on the Cross and through the Resurrection. It is God acting through Christ in life, in suffering and death, and then in life beyond death that salvation takes place. But, the question becomes can everyone be saved by that grace? Is heaven open to all as a result of those acts and that God upon which I rely?

The simple fact of the matter is that any belief that human reliance on grace is a factor in salvation betrays the very need for the cross. For if what is required in reliance on God and God alone to save us, then that was possible before Jesus died. The prophets and wisdom writers are ostensibly bringers of God's word. For plenary inerrantists, they literally spoke and wrote only God's word. Well those writers came and told the Jews that they were not saved by their own power, but by total reliance on God. The law was not some road map to receiving grace, and fulfillment of the rituals of the law accomplished nothing, according to the prophets. It was God's unearned favor that brought the hope of salvation, and God's choice to forgive sins and see His people as blameless. The idea that some payment had to be made to receive God's forgiveness flies in the face of almost everything the prophets and wisdom writers said. In other words, there was no 'payment of sin' that was necessary if one only relied in God's grace. So if people are even capable of "relying on God's grace" then this obfuscates the need for Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

No, people are all but incapable of relying on God's grace except for moments and then only by His grace. People, all of us, are faithless swine who are elevated above the angels by the miracle of Jesus Christ Himself. There is no moral or subjective solution to the problem of sin, if there were then no Incarnation would've been necessary. I do not rely on God's grace, Jesus relied on God's grace, I do not have faith, Jesus had faith.

I've said it before and I say it again. If you or I truly believed that every time we sinned our own child or mother was tortured by a nail through their hand or wrist, our lives and world would look far different than it does now. But the conviction of Christians is that someone closer to us, that we ostensibly are closer to than either of these, retroactively receives just this kind of consequence for every sin we commit. If we really believed that, our lives would like different as they would if our relatives were so punished for our sins. Does your life look like that? Mine doesn't. "Faith", ha, that's a laugh.

But there is a paradox wherein accepting just this kind of need for Jesus Christ does amount to a kind of trusting in grace. That kind of trust, however, is receivable only AS a paradox. And so it can only rest in a kind of solidarity with the sinfulness and lostness of all of mankind. As soon as some distinction is made, in terms of salvation or anything else, that paradox is destroyed and that trust lost. In the end that, too, is a gift, and nothing that comes of me.

To believe in grace in light of the cross is to believe in it as a gift that I can in no way earn or take up as my own. The subjective side of salvation is lost necessarily in this acknowledgement. This leads us inexorably to a universalist outlook.

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