These are just some really rough thoughts on the relationship between grace and the acceptance of such grace. Like I said, these are rough thoughts, so you may disagree but don’t hold me totally accountable because all of my eggs aren’t in this basket. Just thought I’d throw it out there for some feedback and discussion.
To begin, God is God and we are not. This means many things, but to put it incredibly simply, we’re different, God and us. God creates for example. We can’t purely create because we simply use what we have available to us already, things and abilities that God has given us.
Not only does God create but He also gives. When God gives he doesn’t do so in the manner that we humans give. Often when we give gifts to people we expect something in return. Well, it turns out, that’s no gift at all, it’s more of a contract (I’ll give you a present on your birthday so long as you give me one back on mine). However, God gives purely. He’s a pure giver. God doesn’t give with the expectation that we’ll give him something in return because, not only would that cease to be a gift but everything we have has already been given to us by God. So to “give” to God would mean we’re giving back to God something that He already gave us which is non-sensical since it’s God’s to begin with (also, wouldn’t it be insulting to return the same gift to the giver?). “Well I’ll work hard at my job so I can make lots of money and support Missionaries and God will be pleased.” God may or may not be pleased, I don’t know, but what I do know is that it’s by God’s grace that you have your job and talents and abilities. Hell, it’s only by God’s generosity that you’re even breathing right now and have life.
Now I’m not saying there aren’t appropriate responses to God’s grace, I suppose I’m just saying that there’s nothing we can give to God that’s he is in need of. And if God doesn’t need anything that we can give Him, then there’s nothing we can give to him that could ever coax him to give us something in return. As humans, made in God’s image, we respond to God’s grace. But doesn’t a response presuppose that you’ve been given something in the first place?
Christians generally hold to the belief that in order to be saved we must “confess with our mouths” or “accept Jesus”. Whether or not this is true, we often talk about these types of things as if it is our ‘acceptance’ that saves us. But it can’t be that way. It’s not my cognitive acceptance of Jesus that saves me, it’s Jesus that saves me. And we’ve already seen that there’s nothing we can give to God that would ever put him in a place where he owes us anything in return. Therefore, salvation isn’t something that we coax God into giving us by ‘accepting Jesus’, salvation is something different. Something that God accomplishes (read: has accomplished) and gives.
We can’t earn salvation, and if salvation requires anything, even if simply an ‘acceptance’, then it puts us in a place where we have to do something (accept) in order to be saved.
Instead, what if salvation is something that God accomplishes (has accomplished) and gives. You can’t earn it. You can’t do anything to deserve it over anyone else. This isn’t to say that there aren’t appropriate responses to God’s grace, because there are. But those are responses, in other words, they come after the gift is already given.
Grace and peace.