|Somewhere during the zigs and
zags of time the churches often found themselves reduced,
and often fairly, to mere agents of immortality. Nothing is wrong in
being an agent of immortality,
but that is not nearly the whole of the picture of salvation. Of course
the immortality of the soul
is made obvious to us through and by spiritual awareness, but
immortality is only a very small
part of the total vision of salvation. It is a fringe benefit. A trifle.
But some church members are often endeavoring to be little more than mere passive receptors of a creed that is supposed to get them immortality. And this is laughable. For we know they will gain their immortality when they cease their immorality, because salvation is a whole transforming by grace. Immortality is but a tiny part of the whole vision of salvation. But it is a twig that cannot be broken from the tree.
The Apostle councils us to work out our own salvation. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13) So it is God working in us through grace, and our not frustrating that grace, which we sometimes can and often try to do, that means working out own salvation. The grace that is given us will be given according to God’s purpose, our needs, and whatever circumstances there be, while added to this is the own creative benevolence we feel for the world from grace. For in the end all we do should be out of gratitude to God.
Salvation is a positive change of living by grace, not perfection but improvement, for we are sinners to the end, but we may advance in grace. We also need to apply our grace so that we grow and develop in grace, and that we may be one with others in grace in some Covenant of Grace. For grace is more than an individual thing. It must be Covenanted.
Yet if we are to be partially transformed by grace, we must open ourselves to grace, and not be selfish or close minded. For there are people who have slammed shut every door of grace open to them. Some have locked the doors of grace from the inside and thrown away the key lest they be moved. So what can be done? Only God knows. But hell may be partially defined as people living in absence of love and God, having shut all doors of grace opened for them to exit through. By shutting the doors, they have frustrated grace.
Jesus in preaching the Kingdom of God was preaching the acceptable year of the Lord. A new time and type of grace was at hand. Men were now able to live under a Covenant of Grace, not just works, and it was time for the fulfillment of nature by Special Divine Grace to get under way. And to get it under way, He preached it, saying, “Repent ye, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Grace was at hand, because Jesus was materialized grace.
Now we may be confused by “repent”, which means “re-orient”, re-orient yourself, your attitude, and your thinking for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (This is the Word of God the truer churches are still preaching.) Jesus said in Matthew 4:17, “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And He said in Matthew 3:15, “it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness,” which means: to fulfill by grace all the good things God has created. For the Kingdom of Heaven has opened and God through Jesus is pouring grace on earth.
Of this pouring out of grace, Jesus Christ Himself was the first and the best example. The Word of God was Jesus Christ, the truths of God incarnate in the flesh, that we might see how God has understood us. He has accepted us as His sons by adoption (John 1:12) , and sent His Son atoning for the sins of mankind or for those persons who will accept and share His atoning by faith. I hope you will. And if you do, may His grace be upon you. So do not be confused. For Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.