Thursday, September 11, 2014

Indestructible Souls and Irresistible Grace

"Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."     Genesis 2:7 (NASB)

The breath of God is a precious thing.

God's breath imparts that something that makes a human soul, that makes one a person. Not that every person animated by that breath is the person of God, but it is God's breath that infuses all of the capacities of soul that personhood builds on and without which there would be no person. It communicates those characteristics of personhood that are analogous to God's personhood. That breath is spirit, and more than anything else in all creation represents something directly emanated from God's being. 

Think about that: something within humans that makes them persons represents a direct input from the person of God. Some repercussions of that astounding fact are easily enough perceived--humans exercise choice (freewill), are creative (even to the extant of bringing something out of nothing), love, and... wait for it... humans are eternal. Once God invested his own breath in humanity, the persons that result have an essence that will never pass away. What an astonishing thought!

God's breath may exist eternally, but that does not translate into those infused by that breath living eternally. Breath that is separated from God does not respire, it does not go out and come in (as it were). God's breath must be actively with God, in tune with God, in contact with and in the presence of God to live. Cut off from God, separated, it merely exists. It projects some measure of its capacity for personhood, but it is dark, really, lifeless.

In order for one in whom God has breathed the breath of life to live, he or she must walk in agreement with God; however, even God cannot make creatures who possess his image but who do not exercise creaturely freedom thereby. His image makes such freedom necessary and irresistible grace impossible. Creatures made in God's image, by the capacity of choice in that nature, must freely choose agreement with God. That is an action of faith (i.e. trustful reliance) without which it is impossible to please God--faith is what it takes for free creatures to live in agreement with God.

Whereas it is very true that God loves everyone he's made, those made in his image with the capacity of choice have no future without faith. The Gordian knot is that no one born since the Fall of Man can make that choice of faith unless the Spirit has enabled him or her. However, if the enablement was such that one was rewired to make that choice without the possibility of not making it, that one would cease being in the image of God. The breath that confers such is indestructible, so it is impossible for the grace that underlies enablement to be irresistible and enablement to be a guarantee.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Does God Love Our Children Less Than We Do?

Does the God who breathed life into them love our children less than we do? We would never write them off, or send them to into flames no matter what they had done. Yet, it appears that God is willing to. Do we love and care for them more than he does? No, but we certainly tolerate sin and the company of sinners more than he does.

Whatever is not of faith is sin, so faith is the key for our children. If our children do not come to trust God there will be nothing that can be done for them. There is no obligation that could be enforced upon God in the name of love which could cause him to give eternal life (freedom) to those who do not trust him. Could God allow the evil of sin and rebellion to continue just because some of those who have faith happened to have children who did not? Not without resigning his throne as God!

Since the Fall, however, no one is able to believe (at least effectively) without divine enablement. The Spirit of God attending the word of Christ is the instigator of such enablement, so if our children do not hear that word and come to faith thereby they have no possibility of life. Oh, they may be graced under a parental umbrella for a spell, but there are no reliable coattails to heaven. Those who do not trust God can have no eternal hope.

The love of God is broad and deep, but its object is humans made in his image with creaturely freedom. It is important to God that our children be in his image and have creaturely freedom. Everyone made like that must come to the place where, freely, they trust God and choose to follow him. Our children must come to that place or be separated from God forever.

Perhaps we could never bear to write-off our children and would always find a way to preserve them and commune with them. We are not God. We do not see what he sees and do not have the pure moral clarity he does. God does love our children, but not with sin-stained, sentimental affection like we are apt to. He loved them enough to make them in his image and to redeem that image eternally through the sacrifice of Christ.

God wants our children with him forever, but that is not possible if they do not trust him.