Monday, June 13, 2005

Visible grace made invisible; Invisible grace made visible

Visible grace made invisible; Invisible grace made visible

Saint Augustine of Hippo originates the concept of invisible grace made visible in the Holy Communion within the context of church. It is through the holy supper that we witnessed the visible grace of God. It is through the baptism that we continue to witness the visible grace of God. His grace is made explicit through these acts which are approved and sanctified in His sight.
Approved - because they are instituted by Jesus Christ and His disciples;
Sanctified - because through these acts, we are reminded once again that we are declared children of God and that Jesus as Jesus was once on earth, is now with heavenly Father and will be back again.

This link me to think of ‘visible made invisible and made visible’ again. All these take faith, which is mentioned by Pastor Cao in the church last month in May. When Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for us, all these were visible in the sight of the people who were present to witness this dramatic and historic event. But in order for this to make an effect on the rest of mankind, it has to transcend the constrain of time. This demands that this visible grace be made invisible. It is only in this invisible form that it can affect the rest of the mankind not only then, but for eternity. Come to think of it, when we say we live in the present, we are living in the dimension of time. When we say eternity, it is actually the absence of time. However, for people like us today, to access to this historical fact, just like to access other historical facts like the First World War, Second World War and other historical events and figures in the past, we have to accept it on the basis of faith. Of course, there are some historical myths which do not qualify as facts. This would be based on evidential support such as archaeological findings, ancient documents, and other historical books which can attest to the authenticity of historical facts. What I am saying is that the death of historical Jesus is a historical fact and His resurrection is also a historical fact due to convincing evidential support. You will have to refer to ‘The New Testament’, ‘The Case for Christ’, ‘Know why you believe’, ‘Evidences that demand a verdict’ to look at the evidential support. But to accept this as a fact still demand a faith because we were not there at the spot to witness all these titanic events. So, to believe that Jesus died on the cross for us and that He conquered death and came back alive is to demand faith on our part and this is a faith in a visible grace made invisible.

To clarify more about what I mean by grace and faith here, I would need some space to clarify:When we use the word ‘grace’, this grace must be in a form which is directly related to us. For example, when we say that God has given us His grace, it must be in a form which we can relate or even experience directly. If my friend has been rescued miraculously from an accident, but not me, then it would seem that my friend has experienced a form of grace from God, but not me. However, to admit it as a grace would still demand an act of faith. However, not everyone would see it as a grace. Many non-believers would consider it as a form of luck. The concept of grace pre-supposes a giver and a receiver.

The faith that we are talking about then is not just about faith in the existence of an event or person. But a form of faith that trusts you to make decision and this decision causes an effect for eternity. For example, I may make a decision to eat chicken rice or duck noodle for lunch, but this type of decision is light-weight which does not affect me for posterity. But if I make a decision to be a Christian, I am moving from a status of non-believer to believer, from the realm of temporal world into eternity, from a self-centred world to a Christ-centred world. This decision of momentous consequence demands a different form of faith which we use normally. And this form of faith can only come from God. (Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ; Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.)

When we have accepted Christ as our Saviour, our life should be transformed and renewed continuously. This form of transformation is an evidence of God’s work within us that is being made visible to the world. This is when God’s invisible grace has been made visible in our life and through our life. This also demands faith on our part. Faith because we continue to believe that God is with us, is for those who love Him, that God is our Creator, He is guiding the unfolding of human history and that He is here always within us and transcends us. Because of our faith in Him and His words, this faith will continue to work within our life and transform our life. We will become a testimony for God in this world that we are living today.

So, the first step to believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour demands faith. Even when we have become Christian, we have not reached an end stage yet. We are always in the process of ‘becoming’, always a follower of Christ, always being in the process of being made perfect, but never a stage where we can say ‘we have finished following Christ’ or ‘we have been perfected’. This continues to demand faith in our life. The Christian faith demands faith from the beginning to the end.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Interesting. I'll return to this blog again, for sure.

Sincerest regards,

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