Dreamers of the Day

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Thursday, November 01, 2007


My definition of grace has been based on external actions. "Unmerited favor" as mentioned in a previous post is the definition that made the most sense to me. I'm not sure why it did, but I could grasp it. Maybe that's why I forsook questioning it. To me, unmerited favor is something that is voiced. If someone is favorable to you, something pleasant will be said or expressed. I would agree with the statement that "actions speak louder than words", but they do not replace them. Nothing lifts the spirits like an old fashion, "good job Jason." Favor is this. Unmerited favor would be to receive this pleasantry without doing a thing that is deserving of accolades. Obviously, grace is a Christian term and thus its relationship is to those who confess in a Jesus Christ to begin with. But, does that mean grace was not evident when Jesus was not here?

It is my understanding that the law passed to Moses was never written to save, but to reveal. The one who violated it did not take it upon himself to cleanse, but trusted in a sacrifice toward that God that would judge him. This was apparent before the law as well in the story of Cain and Abel where sacrifices were being made. Then, the law was passed which instituted a greater revelation of God. Upon the virgin's labor pains, a Savior was born thus marking an even greater revelation of God's love. He did come and save and now faith is to be placed in Him instead of a list of sacrifices that determines cleansing. Where does grace fit in?

If grace occurs for the first time in the New Testament, was this the only time it existed? Or, perhaps, it has always existed, but never mentioned? To ponder this, I think an analysis of the characteristics of Judeo-Christianity should be sought before and after Jesus' life. What changed? For one thing, the object of the faith has changed. However, faith in an object still exists: the object changed. Secondly, the Holy Spirit was given to the Christians after His ascent. This point is debatable because of the mention of "spirit" in certain Psalms and the departing of it from an Israelite. One could conclude that in the Old Testament, the Spirit would come and go based on the purity of the inhabited person, but after His death, it was a permanent dwelling. If this is true, this is a very interesting point on grace. Another change that occurred which people will mention is the church. It was now a collection of races, not just one, who could believe in Yahweh and Jesus Christ. However, didn't the racial and nationality barrier already fall in the Old Testament? Where other people allowed to partake of Yahweh and believe in Him even-though they were not Jews? Melchidek is an example of a person who was not of the linage of the Jews, yet the father of Judaism paid tribute to him. The Holy Scriptures changed with the addition of Jesus' teachings. But, wasn't almost all of His teachings based on the Old Testament? Apart from the end times and heaven, isn't most of the New Testament a repetition of the Old Testament, just with a different audience?

My argument is this: if that which has changed from Judaism to Christianity is simply the object of our faith, could grace also be found in the Old Testament? Is grace simply a new phenomenon that was invented for the believer, or has it always existed, but in another form? I understand grace as intimate with actions. It is rarely mentioned with the terms of understanding, or emotions. Grace does not mend with economics, but with spirituality. It's as if it is in a world of itself, but the believer will be quick to point out it changes all other worlds. So, if it is this life changing aspect of Christianity, then why is it not listed with economics, geometry or fashion? Why only spirituality? That's what makes it very difficult to comprehend. In a world moved by the movable, seen by the seeing and touched by the touching, grace sneaks up like a prankster. The redeemed Christian will "grasp" the concept and rely on grace, but deflates it of use. Much like a lamb in the day before Christ, the Jews kept them around knowing they would have use of it one day. They knew of their fate as does the modern Christian, but only trust in it a certain times of need. This is where the difference of the objects of faith comes into play. The lamb died in the Old Testament. The Christ died and rose again. His law was far greater than past law, thus a sacrifice was continually needed. If that which was sacrificed is continually living, then something must be different. It's got to be different.

I think that something is grace. To trap it in a definition of favor, to me, seems Western. To find favor in God's eyes and be reconciled to Him is a grand fact, but there is something smaller. This something is the way it affects the everyday, visible life. God's love does affect the everyday life, but grace makes it seen. That is why a "capability of incapability" definition is attractive to me. It helps me explain why I can have wicked thoughts, trailed by tainted actions and yet be used by God. Grace is given to Christians and non-Christians. What segregates is the reaction to this. Some will say, "thank you Jesus." Others will say, "thank you lucky stars." Regardless of my god, I will be given grace.

This is the capable part. Sinners and saints both have life and reign in areas they have been given. The incapable part comes when those things somehow do not satisfy and a search commences. This is an important point in which I get backwards. I am quick to think that because of my Salvation, I am capable of righteousness. Righteousness has nothing to do with capability and thus these words cannot be used. The only capable thing I can do is realize my incapability, which was impossible before salvation. The more I understand my incapability, the more I understand grace. Once a person comes into contact with the Savior, a desire to follow Him sprouts. This, is the incapable part. The incapability of grace cannot be capable with Jesus Christ. In other other words, it is impossible to see a need for Salvation without Jesus Christ.

Now, one may argue that salvation is sought regardless of the belief. I would state that affection, love and importance is sought, but salvation is not. To understand, look at any other religions statement of depravity, sin or why people do bad things. Many are stumped or inept in this topic because salvation is not desired. If it was, they would have an answer to the bad things in man without excusing man. But, they do not.


At 7:53 AM, Blogger Trey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Trey said...

This is an excellent set of posts on grace, Jason. They're well thought out, and they present the discussion in manageable terms, which is always a challenge when talking about relatively abstract topics. Really good stuff. :)

(Yeah, I deleted the previous comment, because it was just terrible, in terms of grammar. :P)


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