It is my understanding of God’s message, both Old Testament and New, that his call and invitation into relationship with him is extended to whomever will listen or “whomsoever will believe,” as John 3.16 indicates. I am decidedly in the Wesleyan tradition on this front, particularly as it relates to prevenient grace or that initial bit of grace given to everyone so that, in conjunction with their own will, they might respond to additional grace from God or “grace upon grace,” to use the words of John Wesley. It is not the universal distribution of initial or prevenient grace that saves, but rather the receipt of grace upon grace. The only part the human plays in this secondary, salvific moment is his or her refusal to refuse God’s gift of salvation. Contrary to popular Calvinist teachings and general Reformed theology, those who recognize human free-will do not believe that humans can “earn” or “merit” salvation in the least. Like any gift, we merely acknowledge that such gifts are  received by  recipients, not forced upon them. Receiving a gift in no way makes the recipient responsible for the gift itself. If you accepted a $10,000 gift from me, and everyone knew it, you would be universally held in contempt (if not considered delusional) for claiming that you were responsible for it. It is the same for those of us who recognize free-will as it relates to God’s gift of grace. Again looking at the biblical text, never do we witness God/ Jesus forcing people to accept  him or love him back, etc. Quite to the contrary, we see God/ Jesus doing everything within his power, right up to the line of overriding human agency, to court the human heart and spirit, but never does he cross that line. I find this to be remarkably compelling evidence and consistent with the God of the Bible who prides himself on the presence of justice but the absence of prejudicial qualifications when it comes to being in relationship with him.


About C_Lambeth

I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. I graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor's of Science and from George Fox Seminary (now Portland Seminary) with a Master's of Divinity. In addition to knowing Christ and helping others know him, I am passionate about peace, the environment, Christian feminism, justice for all (not just the wealthy) and being a lifelong learner. Please feel free to comment on any of the posts here or to suggest new posts altogether. Thank you for reading me! -CL
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