bits from bob....

Grace: Seeking Balance

by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

We must be careful to avoid two extreme positions in studies of grace. One extreme is to assume total human responsibility for salvation. The other extreme is to abdicate all human responsibility in matters of salvation. The middle ground between these two extremes is treacherous. How shall we balance God's gracious initiative toward his creation, human response-ability, and faithfulness? Too much of the first leads to a salvation based upon "practical humanism." An overdose of the second might be described as "pious irresponsibility." Can we find an appropriate balance?

First, we must avoid the error that affirms all it takes to be saved is hearing, believing, repenting, confessing the name of Jesus, and being baptized. Salvation is not a human endeavor, nor can it be described or accomplished through human activities. Some write and speak as though salvation is merely a human enterprise with a passing salute to God thrown in for good measure. One must ask, "Where is God? Where is Jesus Christ? Where is the cross?"
Many invitations to come to Jesus explain salvation in terms of human action with little or no emphasis on God. One could almost conclude that no supernatural element exists in the salvation process. All of our preaching, persuading, and encouraging--even all of our obedience--is useless without God's action in Christ Jesus. Salvation can never occur by human effort alone. We must never forget Paul's first affirmation in Eph. 2:5, "by grace."

Second, we must avoid the error that says that nothing is required of human beings to be saved. This misconception is just as prevalent in today's religious world, perhaps more common than the first. Some preachers seem to believe that any requirement of human activity connected with salvation is presumptuous, unspiritual, works-oriented, and wrong. Such suggest, at least implicitly, that the human role is to sit back and watch God do his thing as he saves us. In an effort to emphasize God's initiating action in salvation, all human activity is disparaged. We must never forget Paul's second affirmation in Eph. 2:5, "through faith."

The Bible clearly teaches that God has given us a critical role to play in accomplishing his will on earth, including his will for the salvation of souls. If we have been given some responsibility with regard to the salvation of the souls of others, it is not difficult to believe that we should have some responsibility with regard to our own salvation. Salvation is a partnership between God and humanity. God's saving action in Christ's death on the cross, human activity in proclaiming the message of salvation, and human response to God's demonstration of love are all necessary. Salvation is not possible without God, but God has decided that salvation is not possible without us. God uses people to accomplish his purposes. That is grace!

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Last updated October 22, 2003.