Salvation is more than repentance. That was the premise of the recent theological discussion I was involved in. Whilst repentance is a key component in the Holy Spirit’s working of the miracle within a soul by convicting that soul of his or her sin, just as much, if not more, a role grace plays in that soul; a person, like each one of us, who needs God’s unconditional acceptance.
We all need God’s love of unconditional acceptance – and we have it through Jesus Christ.
That’s what grace is: God’s love of unconditional acceptance, with one saving caveat – to believe upon Christ. Nobody truly needing God, and admitting that same need, would foreseeably have a problem in committing to trust God.
Repentance is one half of the story – to know the need of God – and grace is the other half. One we bring to the table in simply turning toward God. The other only God can do. Even if we are poor at repenting, we are not beyond God’s unconditional acceptance. And nobody who is ‘poor’ at repentance is any worse in God’s saving estimation than someone who repents as a mature Christian does. Repentance is just one half of the story. Grace is the too untold other half – welling up to interminable love. We really cannot know the end of it!
Trusting God is our opportunity. When we understand grace – that we are authorised to fellowship directly with God – because of Jesus’ obedience on the cross and his resurrection – we are no longer hamstrung by our sinful nature. We wish to be further sanctified, but we are no less purified by the blood of Jesus shed for us. We were purified, once-for-all-time, when we chose to follow Jesus.
As we trust God, in the full measure of courage, by the fortitude of faithfulness, we experience the blessed freedom of grace. This is the experience of salvation; of knowing we are saved once-and-for-all-eternity.
This grace that we have full assurance of is unfathomable. It is more incredible the more we experience it. We cannot hope to know the height, or the breadth, or the width, or the depth of such a thing. Grace is amazing and what one human being can experience is closer to nothing than the fullness of grace. Yet it means everything to us; our guilt and shame has been taken away. It clings to us no longer. Indeed, we glory in the fact of our sordid pasts, because God has made no eternal consequence of them.
We, who are saved, are greatly enjoyed by God, though we may not enjoy ourselves. God loves every one of us, even if we struggle to love ourselves. Grace makes it possible that we might know that unconditional acceptance of God’s and, so, actually experience it through peace, joy, love...
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.