Graced or ‘Un-graced’?
‘Nietzsche is dead’.
I walked along the Liverpool, England street when I saw these three words on the back of a T-shirt. At first it was just another T-shirt slogan. A second or two later the point hit me full force.
The Sovereign is not dead! All who have suggested otherwise should reserve their judgement until the jury is in.
But the God-man – by self-giving love – died.
The holy Scriptures do show us that the God who took on flesh, became one of us, yes . . . He died. Right out of His own self-giving love—He died (see Phil 2:1-11). But death did not win! Nor has evil finally won! Because He visited earth as God, death, sin, evil were not sovereign. Railings against Him do not even dent His infinite existence. But Love for sinners—yes, even for evil ones—gave . . . gave His life, so those who believe in Him may live. Live abundantly and live forever! Love died . . . to bring life (see John 3:16). Such grace is still a story unexcelled! At this season, we ponder it deeply.
And the grace that keeps flowing from the ‘came-to-be-with-us’ Emmanuel, the God-man who loved—even when rejected and reviled, then entombed, resurrected, and ascended—that grace is incredibly BIG! That grace embraces us, even while estranged from our Maker (prevenient grace), and leads us to the shalom life—Creator-designed.
Salvation Means Creation Healed
In the book by that title, the authors give a most insightful definition of “sin”: the “word for [the] disruption between humans and God; this moral disease that entered human history because of the loss of life-giving communion with God.” These authors also, as noted from author Dunning in previous posts, speak of the relationships of the human family—with God, with self, with one another, and with nature as disrupted by the Fall. Fragmentation in all these relationships was the result.
As regards even ‘self-alienation’, sin brings what the Scriptures refer to as “double-mindedness” (see Ps 119:113; Jas 1:7, 4:8). Sin brings guilt. “Because of sin, people are not at home within themselves.” Nor are they at home in the presence of the Master (consider Adam, Gen 3; Peter in the presence of Christ, Luke 5:8). The “internal alienation” is experienced in myriads of people who find a civil war within. As expressed poignantly by the Apostle Paul, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate . . . I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.” (see Rom. 7:15-24).
Fragmentation within one’s own person, in relationships with others, systemic societal fragmentation, and brokenness in our human relations with nature (more to be said in other posts) all are resultant from the “moral disease that entered human history because of the loss of life-giving communion with God” (emphasis added).
God’s grace is the incredible ‘un-fragmenter’!
Life-giving stream that brings wholeness.
But for that redemptive grace to be effective, there must be the spirit of openness to the Maker—to His Word, His will, His ways. Implied in this principle is the reality that the Father, knowing and desiring the best for the human family, created shalom. At the core of that shalom is communion with Him, the ‘real-life’ experiencing of His holiness—thus His wholeness.
He, the perfect Gentleman, does not force upon any of us His redeeming grace.
Each of us must determine our position, our heart attitude to the mighty Cross of Christ and to the grace that flows from it. As to His redemptive grace, we make the choice—graced or ‘un-graced’.
There’s still a ‘sabotager’ of shalom!
He is no friend to grace!
Among the shalom sabotager’s seductive cold winds blowing in our world today, certainly in the Western world, are some quickly recognizable by discerning Christ followers. Here’s one: the enemy has seduced myriads to believe that civilization has risen to a ‘more mature’ perspective than a previous Christian worldview. Society is now ‘enlightened’. According to some who purport this view, God, the holy Scriptures, the church–corporate worship, the creeds, robust faith, prayer—all of these were perhaps OK for a previous time, perhaps for our grandparents’ generation, but in today’s world we’re good without all of that. Post-Christian.
I watched a news clip in which one gentleman spoke of groups of persons who can celebrate Christmas “without all that religious stuff”. Hmm . . . I pondered. What is Christmas? ! Of course, there are peoples of our world who have not had the privileges of spiritual enlightenment that many in Western societies have had—at least had in a prior generation. For those, however, in American culture who have had exposure to the truths and principles of God’s Word to give the shove to “all that religious stuff” seems strongly to express the incredible spiritual darkness that results when the Word, the holiness, and the grace of the Almighty is rejected.
Just as in the first garden . . .
There is still a consequence to moral, spiritual choice. Prior posts have spoken of humankind’s spiritual hopelessness apart from the Creator’s redemptive plan. Where Messiah’s mighty grace of is cast off, darkness, gross darkness moves quickly to fill the vacuum.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness . . . (Rom. 1:19-22, NASB).
May we understand from the Scriptures that we are by grace granted the truth, and that if the truth is rejected, we open ourselves to a darksome alternative? As the inspired writer wrote of “all the ways . . . wickedness deceives those who are perishing” he then penned, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thess. 2:10-12, NIV).
God’s wholeness—His grace is my choice.
His shalom wins now—and will in coming ages!
This season, ponder the incredible grace from His mighty Cross!
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 Howard A. Snyder and Joel Scandrett Salvation Means Creation Healed, The Ecology of Sin and Grace: Overcoming the Divorce Between Earth and Heaven 2011, Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), Kindle ed., p. 66 of 226.
 Ibid., p. 73. For an excellent treatment of “Alienation from Ourselves: Internal Division” see pp. 73-76.
 Ibid., p. 66.