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Posts Tagged ‘grace’

Continuing our focus on the issue of salvation, this next Tuesday we’ll be discussing the opposite of salvation. In other words, “can we be unsaved?” You know the story: Nice guy/girl from your church that used to be passionate about God is now living a life completely removed from God–he/she may even outright denounce God’s saving Grace in this world at this point as a lie. Yet at one time, he/she was very passionate about God, believed wholeheartedly that Jesus was his/her salvation and lived a life of obedience…for a time.

Or another example from my own life: someone is passionate about God most of his/her life, but then suffers a tremendously painful loss due to terminal illness (or an accident). That person is now angry with God and denounces his/her faith. Is a lifetime of obedience undone in one fell swoop?

Another question I have is, “is there a sin God won’t forgive?”

In addition to more C.S. Lewis, I’ll be spending a lot of time going back through the Gospels and the New Testament to seek answers regarding this. I also think at some point I’m going to have to tackle Revelation…as that is where the saved and unsaved are finally separated.

…and is it too much to hope Alehouse has a Stone or Rogue beer back? It’s been two weeks without either of my favorite breweries. Although I have to say, last week’s “Dark Heffeweizen” was pretty tasty–and I was glad to see Union Jack IPA back up where it belongs.

Cheers!

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We have a great discussion. As much as I read and researched the topic of salvation, it was actually Jason bringing in the always classic “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis which gave us the most profound insight this time. I cannot put it better than Lewis, so I will provide the main excerpt we studied last week. Yes, it makes this post much longer than my usual, and may go largely unread, but it’s darn good stuff.

In short, Lewis talks about how we have a “debt” that Jesus paid for us, much like a friend would bail us out in life–but he quickly gets on to what true repentance is about. To Lewis, and I think to everyone at B&B last week, we agreed that repentance was the key to true salvation. But repentance isn’t simply a “feeling bad about stuff” kind of thing. Repentance, Lewis says, is a kind of willing submission to God; a death of sorts to one’s past and a rebirth. He also points out that the only way we can repent is because of Jesus, for reasons he explains so much better than me below. Finally, and the biggest point for me, is that repentance is not some set of “stuff” one does to get saved, it is a description of what going back to God is like. Asking God to save oneself without repentance is like asking God to let you come back to Him and then not coming to Him. Impossible.

Anyway, here is an excerpt–I’ve added red to emphasize the parts we discussed the most. I recommend re-reading several times as this book really rewards repeated reads; I’ve gotten new insight from this each time I’ve re-read it:

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“On the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not. Or if you take “paying the penalty,” not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of “standing the racket” or “footing the bill,” then, of course, it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend.
Now what was the sort of “hole” man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realising that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of a “hole.” This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all.
It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it.

Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another.”

—“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis; Book II, Page 33–

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As I suspected, salvation is simply too big for us to discuss in one week…and probably even in two. So we took the rather long list of subtopics apart piece by piece and took a quick stab at each to see where we stood and to see which one felt like a natural starting point.  In the end, our discussion on Baptism seemed the most promising as a lead.

I grew up in a church where baptism was largely symbolic and the act was practically unnecessary. However, in some traditions–particularly Catholicism–baptism is largely held to be necessary for salvation. We talked about our different backgrounds and experiences with baptism. It seemed like this was a great starting point for next week–everyone goes home and reads up on baptism and next week we come back and report what we found. So just as I’m opening my mouth to say, “Alright, next week is Baptism….” Nathan up and asks a great question: “Which items like these are actually a PART of salvation…and which ones are more of the stuff that comes afterwards?” (His version of the question was much more eloquent, but my 22 oz. Rogue Ale was empty at this point and my attention span was growing skittish, so I’m paraphrasing here).

Once we thought about how we would likely spend the next few weeks discussing aspects of salvation, it seems logical to start with the beginning. So that, my friends, is next week’s topic:

How exactly are we saved? What is absolutely central in order for salvation to occur? Let’s chip away all that packaged add-on stuff and get to the bare bones of the situation. Salvation 101.

Hopefully they have a Stone beer back on tap next week, I was sad to see the Imperial IPA was gone.

Cheers!

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