Monday, August 21, 2006

The end of grace II

The Trinitarian foundations of an eschatology of grace.
After a pause, I return to my theme of grace in the end. I began with some thoughts on the end as a free gift for humanity. Of course, despite - or actually, because of - their eschatological theme, these thoughts are intended as reflections upon the way, not as pronouncements from the end.

What is grace? Not a thing, but a reason, a motivation, a desire. Or perhaps, the lack of a reason. That the end is all of grace means that it is brought about by the free act of God. Divine freedom is not conditioned or constrained by anything outside the love of Father : Son : Spirit.

So perhaps better than grace as lack of reason, is grace as superabundance of reason, but reasons located within the Trinitarian life. A free gift does not arise from fear. God's grace is not driven, a chasing after. God's acts towards us are free because of the overflowing joyful love of the Father for the Son, Son for Spirit, Spirit for Father - and back again: 'You are my Son, the beloved; in you I am well pleased.' The Father's affirmation of the Son as he begins his task of restoring and renewing the world is thus the basis for Christian hope. At the same point, the Spirit rests upon the Christ in bodily form as a dove as an indication of the unity of the Trinity in this task, bound together not by the world's need, but in common love, fellowship, koinonia. The Father's work undertaken by Christ in the Spirit is therefore gracious, arising from the very identity of God, not through an external constraint or debt owed to his creatures.

And the corollary is that the Son delights to do his Father's work:

At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and revealed them to infants: yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father; or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'

- Luke 10.21-22

The closed circle of divine knowledge in which only the Father knows the Son and the Son the Father is the basis for all human knowledge of God. Who Jesus is and what he does are closed to those who don't know the Father. Who God is and what he does is closed to those who don't know the Son. It is only by an initiative from the divine side, from inside the circle, that we can know anything at all. This is why our hope is based on divine grace. Without the final startling exception (and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him) we would remain ignorant of God and his promises.

Since it was not our goodness or need or failure to disqualify ourselves that resulted in God's action, we need have no fear that humanity can thwart God's intentions. Indeed, the very point at which the powers of humanity against God were at their strongest was the very point at which God achieved the centre of his purpose (Acts 2.23): what we intended for evil, God nonetheless used for good (cf. Gen 50.20).

God's love for the world, the love that resulted in his sending his Son so that whoever believes may have the life of God's coming age (John 3.16), is not based on the worth of the world, but on the faithfulness and joy found within the fulness of Father : Son : Spirit. And that love is never exhausted.

Grace is not over yet. There is more to come...
Eight points for the first to link to another shot of this cross.
Series: I; II; III; IV.


Drew said...

superabundance of reason


Without the final startling exception (and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him) we would remain ignorant of God and his promises.

encouraging - prompts one to chuck out the grand systems and logics that we construct and revel in the revelation, and the 'superabundance of reason' that surpasses knowledge and everything we ask or think... (eph. 3:19-20)

psychodougie said...

We were looking at Colossians 2:6-7 at staff meeting today, talking about walking. I was struck (perhaps not so much from Colossians) by the graciousness of the walk. The pure and utter dependence we have on Jesus, to be able to walk in him, to know the way in which to continue to walk.
Our utter dependence on grace, both in receiving and walking, in Christ, is at once humbling and encouraging.

Matthew Moffitt said...


byron smith said...

Again, I'm looking for the post, not the raw image.

Matthew Moffitt said...


byron smith said...

Yes. Have another eight points.