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.

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