Saturday, October 08, 2016

Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 5/5

Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 5/5

Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 1
Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 2
Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 3
Universal Negatives in John's Gospel, Part 4

Recall from Part 4:

I suggested two definitions of a Christian: one is normative (or practical) definition and one is absolute (but impractical):
normative/practical definition: A Christian is someone, by grace, is regenerated by God, responds to the gospel, lives out his faith displaying progress in his sanctification.
An absolute/impractical definitionA Christian is one who can stand before God in judgment and has been given the privilege to have God look at Christ’s righteousness rather than his own.
We operate on the first definition. Salvation depends on the second--which is of course inaccessible. We judge people (as we are instructed) imperfectly based on the practical definition, but ultimately only the impractical definition matters.

The bible gives us confidence that there is a significant overlap between the two groups, but it also tells us (Depart, I never knew you!) that the overlap is not perfect. I'll speculate that using the first definition (all that we can do) will lead us to being surprised at an absence in heaven. The second definition will result in our being pleasantly surprised at a presence.

Of course, this is nothing more than a slant on Augustine's visible and invisible church.


We can only have access to the Father through the Son—no exceptions.  It is an absolute, universal negative.
Only Christians are saved in the sense that only those who have been given the right to claim Christ’s righteousness (i.e., Christians) are saved. Nobody else.
The normal (but not absolute?) route includes, in human terms, accepting the gospel and living a life dedicated to Christ.

We all have hope that there are exceptions to that normal route. (God will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy.) 
As evangelicals we are well-advised to behave as if the normal route is the only route. We must behave as if all mankind must hear the gospel. We have been commanded to behave that way.

At the same time we must not forget the theological truth that God is sovereign and He can bestow grace according to His own pleasure. 


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