Monday, January 18, 2010

Plantinga: Redemption

Creation was first, fall was after, and what’s next in the list is: Redemption.

The first sin brought shame and guilt to humanity; however God did not abandon humanity. Having loving mercy and not mere pity, he brought grace upon all people and formed a covenant with them. He also gave them laws, the Ten Commandments, not only to restrict evil but to free and flourish (shalom) humanity. Though rules restricted some things, it’s because of them that the gift of life could be merrily enjoyed without chaos and unfairness. But chaos seemed more appealing than merriness to humans, and thus they foolishly broke the rules. Yet once more because of love for creation, God sent the Messiah.

The Messiah, also read as “the anointed one”, is described as the “King of kings” but also as the “suffering servant” who came to die for all sins and save what was lost, but not perished; basically all creation. After dying, He resurrected, and His resurrection is what all Christians have to and must offer to the whole world. The empty cross is the evidence of the defeat of human stubbornness in sin, and the triumph of God’s grace.

God’s grace was able to change people’s life since the beginning of all. Even in the Old Testament one can observe how it changed all Israelites lives by freeing them from slavery. In the New Testament, his grace is manifested through Jesus. Baptism becomes the new covenant: a symbol of “death” of the old sinful self, and “resurrection” of the new self which lets the redeemed person become "one with Christ". I believe that Plantinga uses the word “resurrection” and not “birth” because good has always resided inside everyone since God created them. It was covered by sin, yes, but through forgiveness it was restored.

Talking about restoration, there are two steps before it, something combined called “double grace.” This “double grace” is formed by two acts of grace: Sanctification and justification. Sanctification means “lifelong conversion” and signifies a miracle which can only be realized by God. Justification is the acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation of sinners through Jesus Christ. Both are truly undeserving, that’s why their second names are “grace.”

God loves His people and thus offers salvation. He gave each person a will, not because he wanted to just make it harder for the people to come to Him, but to permit them reach true love worthy of having; not a robotic kind of love, which is programmed and halfhearted. I believe that this will is what makes forgiveness even more graceful and loving.

Once redeemed, a person’s mission is to have faith in Jesus and in his plans. But “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26)”. One is to perform good works not to show off Christianity, but to demonstrate “God’s grace in a person’s life” and to reform what one can with the help of God. This is why scripture is important. It’s because the Word is the measuring stick for all deeds. I would say it’s like the representation of the moral law that C.S Lewis defends in his articles, it is a guide to discern what is good and what is evil. Because everyone’s mind is already tainted with sin its thinking is “twisted” and deceiving, it must depend on a pure and truthful guide. However the measuring stick has only numbers and not formulas, it’s up to humans to find ways of applying the Word of God to our world, and this is where education comes in handy.

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