A Conflicted Grace
As I mentioned last week, I was at the funeral of one of my uncles on Wednesday. It was an unusual affair.
Not that anything dramatic happened. No shocking revelations were made. We simply gathered at the church where the service was being held, having to reconcile ourselves to the fact a member of our family was now no longer with us. His life here is done and now we – and his immediate family in particular – have to adjust to a new normal. For how can things truly return to normal with a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend is no longer with you?
No, the unusual aspect came via the conflicting message from the pulpit of God’s great grace and my uncle’s ‘hope’ that he was saved – that he would indeed be going to heaven when he died. I could be murky on the particulars, but from what I understand about the doctrine of the Netherlands Reformed Church, God decided ahead of time (literally) who would and who would not be saved. One cannot ‘choose to be saved’, to accept this gift (as I have been taught). It is the sovereign will of God, and as we have been so tainted by sin, who are we to think we can have anything to do with it?
And the real kicker is you may very well not know before you die if you are one of the elect. You can hope you are, but you may go to your grave without any assurance as to where you will be spending eternity.
It’s very much a ‘Soup Nazi’ mentality when I think about it.
Nor does it sound like grace as I have heard it taught (think the Prodigal Son type of grace). But again, I’m not well versed in many theological matters. I do, however, believe God gave us all a free will. Adam and Eve used theirs to decide to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Abraham used his to obey God’s call to travel to a new and distant land. The first disciples of Jesus used theirs to follow Jesus when He said to them “Follow Me”.
Yes, God is a big God. Bigger than what we can comprehend. But He didn’t make the way to salvation hard or complicated or convoluted. He offers it. We choose to accept or reject it. And that’s that. No wondering if we ‘have it’ until our dying day. We can know it and know Him for certain this side of eternity.
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” ~ Revelation 3:20 (NLT)
*Photo Credit: Flickr (Creative Commons)