The dichotomy seems stronger than ever, and many are steadfast in their refusal to consider that they have been in error. For Christians, this error may not be foundational. The consciousness of sin and grace is deeply personal and convicting, but undergirded by propositional truth. It is in sanctification, the second stage of the ‘evangelical two-step’, that the dichotomy becomes stark and confusing. We have been saved by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves. How could we then try to be justified by works? Wasn’t this the error that the Galatian church was chastised for by Paul?
The reality is, all of our life we are called to know God. When I pray for people’s sanctification, I usually pray for 4 ‘graces’, derived from Paul’s prayers for the Asian churches:
1. Abounding in HOPE
2. Know the length, breadth, height and depth of God’s LOVE
3. Know the riches of the glory of God’s INHERITANCE through GRACE
4. Know the surpassing POWER of God with which he accomplishes resurrection
But to know the above is to know God personally more and more, and for this it is important to do the works that God has commanded us to do. In other words, we cannot separate God’s person from God’s character. When we say we are saved through faith, we are saved from the darkness of alienation from God, from un-wholeness, from sin, into union with God, into wholeness (shalom) and holiness. I believe this is the entirety of one’s life. What we call ‘justification’ immerses us into the world of God, into assurance and a guide to explore God’s character and person to study the dim mirror more closely until we come to complete knowledge. Following a theme of knowledge explored earlier on this blog, our knowing is complete when we know as we have been known- in short when we love as we have been loved, because love is the highest form of knowledge. The Biblical language of knowing a person comes into focus here, as at that time, the dichotomy between the personal and propositional knowledge will not exist, because I believe they will merge. God’s character will be clear to us and formed in us. We will see Him as he is, and know him ‘continually’, ‘day and night’, ‘unceasingly’.
But this year has been exhausting for people trying to know God more by exploring his truth and doing his will. The clamor surrounding us has been deafening, but the greater shock has been how the wise ones among us, the pastors, leaders, theologians and others, have compromised morals and truths to support a person or a single principle. Sometime ago, someone I follow on Twitter proposed that God is doing something very momentous in our day, drawing a clear line in the sand. I’m looking towards it with a sense of apprehension- not for whether it will be a just or good outcome, but whether God’s people will be on board with it or go into a self-imposed exile from knowing Him fully.