Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why has He saved us?


. . . so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 2:7
Why has God done all this? Why from eternity has he chosen us to be holy before him in love? Why has he made us accepted in the beloved? Why, when dead in trespasses and sins, has he made us alive, raised us up, and made us sit together in heavenly realms with Christ? The answer to these questions is given in this verse. It was in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. The revelation of the grace of God - i.e., of his unmerited love - is declared to be the specific object of redemption. From this it follows that whatever clouds the grace of God or clashes with the free nature of the blessings promised in the Gospel must be inconsistent with its nature and purpose. If the salvation of sinners is intended as an exhibition of the grace of God, it has to be free.

- Charles Hodge from his commentary on Ephesians

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

Okay, question for Wednesday...
If God had not created the universe, or us, or anything, and simply was (or IS depending on how you view God's time), would He still be God? Is Godhood based on something to rule? Or can the Unmoved Mover still be omnipotent even if nothing is moved?

In other words, is God's glory increased by the existense of man or not?

I hope this finds you having a good day.

~Scarlet

Ed said...

If I may offer my two cents, briefly, Scarlet-

God was God before the world was. Godhood itself is something not fully definable to those who are not God. It is best approached in image and metaphor.

God has no need of man, his glory is likewise pre-existent and cannot truly be added to (although it can be perceived more or less correctly by created persons). From eternity the glory of the Father is known to and shared by the Son and the Spirit. Likewise, the power of God existed before the creation and without reference to it.

Okay- maybe more like $2 then two cents... time for me to go back up to the mountains (literally).

Matt Perkins said...

Hey S.P.,

I am convinced that God's divinity or godhood is in no way changed or lessened if nothing is created versus Him having created something outside of Himself. Along these lines perhaps it's better to think of the created universe revealing God's glory as opposed to thinking of it giving God glory which He would not otherwise possess. When it comes to the description of God as unmoved mover, God could still possess such a description when no thing had been created because of His life in the Trinity in the perichoretic dance of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so certainly there is a movement of love in God even without there being any created thing.

Thanks Ed. Amen to your comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt and Ed,

Thank you both for your thoughts.

Matt, we've discussed the Trinity before, and that we agree that God and Jesus are different people--albeit divine. So, if Jesus is the Son of God, by my understanding, Jesus is begotten (or created) by God.
So has the Trinity always existed? And if so, how is Jesus designated as the Son and God as the Father if they have both existed from the beginning?

Sorry to be so argumentative, I 'm just trying to ensure I understand what you wrote. We both know that I don't have a very good grasp of the Trinity.

Love from

~Scarlet

Matt Perkins said...

Hey Scarlet,

I'm working on neuro homework so I won't be able to give as lengthy a response as I would like to the issues you raised above. First off I think it's important to be very careful in the language used in describing the Trinity. I would never say the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are different "people," because they aren't people. They are persons in the godhead - hypostases in Greek. And all three persons or hypostases are of the same essence, being or ousia. It is this divine essence which excludes the thought of Christ being a created thing. If this essence excludes the possibility of the Son and the Holy Spirit being created then the Trinity has most certainly existed from all eternity.

There are multiple references to the divinity of Christ in Scripture. So the question which must be asked is what does it mean for Christ to be divine. While the word "god" is used in Scripture to refer to that which is not the one true God who created the universe - as in Psalm 82 - I don't think you get any sense in the NT that Jesus is just a "god" in the way that the human rulers or angels were referred to in Psalm 82. When Thomas sees the risen Christ and believes he doesn't say "you are one of the gods," or "you are a god," he says, "My Lord and my God," and Christ does not rebuke him for this declaration. It could not be said of any of those "gods" in Psalm 82, "For by him all things were created," and "all things were created through him and for him," as it speaks of Christ in Colossians 1:16.

I could be wrong in my understanding of this - Ed please correct me if I am - but God the Son, who took on flesh, can be called the Son because He proceeds from the Father and has always proceeded from the Father, just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. But this is an eternal procession and not one which had a beginning. I think I read it somewhere in CS Lewis but he wrote that when a human has a child that child has all of the same attributes - the same number of chromosomes, the same basic anatomy, a similar potential life span, etc. It is the same with God the Father and God the Son. If the the Son is truly the Son of the Father then He has all of the same attributes of the Father - that is He is from everlasting, omnipotent, omniscient, etc. Hopefully I haven't spouted any heresy in that paragraph and if I have I hope someone will correct me.

I will probably never be able to claim a firm "grasp" on the Trinity in this life either. But there are many things in the Christian faith which I don't grasp. And yet because I believe these doctrines ultimately have their source in Scripture and because I believe it was godly men who were also guided by the Holy Spirit who helped to resolve all of these controversies in various ecumenical councils down through the ages I do believe in these things I can't grasp. In fact, if I could really "grasp" Christian theology I think it would be evidence that it was just another man-made religion. If a religion is from God it only makes sense that finite men couldn't completely grasp it but if a religion is from men then any reasonably intelligent person should be able to grasp such a thing.

That's where I stand Scarlet,

Hope your week is going well!

Ed said...

Hey Matt-

The Fathers might quibble with your use of the word "proceed" for Christ's eternal generation from the Father, but in everyday modern language I don't really think there's a problem with it.

Even the Fathers themselves admitted they did not understand the difference between what it meant for Christ to be "begotten" and for the Spirit to have "proceeded." However, because these were really the only Biblical terms they had to work with, and because God did not give the Apostles or early Fathers much clarification on the subject, they simply maintained that the language should remain as it had been received by the Church.