Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Grace is not about showing others what you do.  It's not even about showing God what you do.  It's about seeing God for who He is (a loving Father), and being changed by that encounter.

It's when we manage to forget about ourselves that we can truly focus on Christ and let go of our selfish interests.  The path of believing that our salvation depends on works, even good works, destroys our love of God.  This means-to-an-end relationship with God is a dead end.  The path of faith and fruit, by contrast, makes all good works possible.  It is the difference between obedience and gratitude.

Works says: Be good, or else...
Grace says: Be grateful, and then...

Getting back to [the book of] James's original example, we don't "demonstrate" our righteousness by feeding the homeless and hungry person; we celebrate our freedom by doing so.  We do it because we care - genuinely and deeply - for the welfare of others.
-Jay Bakker, Fall to Grace

In theory, many if not most evangelical churches would agree with the above statement.  In practice, most members of those churches (including the pastors) are still more motivated by fear of hell - if not for themselves than for those they believe are headed toward eternal condemnation.

While I'm not convinced one has to become a universalist to get to a place where fear is completely overcome by grace, I am convinced that actions motivated by fear of hell (however well concealed by slogans of grace) are a sign that there is error in one's theology.  It's not an error that would jeopardize one's salvation, certainly, but it nonetheless has negative consequences in the here and now.

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