A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Grace Is a Gift From God, Grace Is a Work of God

Kevin Watson has written a response to a post by Rachel Held Evans entitled, "On Sinning No More..." Like Kevin, there is much in Rachel's post that I appreciate. As I read it, I was reminded of Martin Luther's observation that even though our "old Adam" of sin is drowned in the waters of baptism, old Adam is still a mighty good swimmer. Sin is serious business and we seem to be bent in its direction.

But, Kevin rightly points out that grace is not simply a get out of jail free card even though we continue to transgress. Grace is a work of God that transforms us and moves on toward perfection... of sinning no more. He writes,
...I think Rachel unintentionally offered her audience cheap grace and not the audacious, ridiculous, almost unbelievably amazing grace that is offered to every person created in the image of God. The hope that Christians can have, on Rachel’s account, it seems to me is to not be condemned even though they are unfaithful. And to learn to not condemn others when they are unfaithful.
Here is what it comes down to: Which do you believe is more powerful: sin or God? If you believe that people are not able to “go and sin no more,” then you believe that sin is more powerful than God. If you believe that God is more powerful than sin, which I think is the conclusion Christians must come to, then you may need to take a closer look at the reflexive excusing of the reality of sin in the lives of those who have taken on the name of Christ that is prevalent in contemporary American Christianity.
Rachel has offered her audience part of the gospel, forgiveness of our sins by faith in Christ. But she has withheld the other part, which is at least as good of news: we are not only forgiven, but the power that sin had on us has been broken. She has mistakenly put forgiveness and holiness in tension with each other. Jesus offers us both forgiveness and the freedom to live faithfully.
Martin Luther was right-- old Adam is a mighty good swimmer-- but Charles Wesley was also correct to note in poetic fashion that Jesus breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free. Grace is a gift from God to be sure, but it is also a work of God in our lives to move us on to perfection.

And this Wesleyan is grateful for both.

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