Science looks at cause and effect. Does that apply to grace?

I think science oriented people tend to look at life through a lense of cause and effect. Does that affect how we see grace? I’ve moved a few off topic posts here to continue that discussion.

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We seem to have different viewpoints to ‘grace’. For some reason, the word ‘grace’ is associated with conditions (requirements) in the NT. I would compare it to getting a gift: you do not earn the gift (that would make the gift a salary) but you need to receive it to get it. Salvation is not forced on you, it is offered.

I could pick many verses from the NT to support my claim but I am interested of the passages that seem to refute my claim. Do you have any?

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But it would appear that the need for it is?

Go on then. read them. Are they saying we need to accept the grace for God’s sake or ours?

Why should God;s grace need validation?

It is given. We have recieved it. However, unless we acknowledge that we received it we don;t know we have it

No, I am claiming that you are inferring something that is not actually stated. You are inferring that the need for accepting is some sort of trigger for it to happen. Instead of going and slaying a dragon, we must still be doing something. No.

God sent His son to forgive our sins. He did it. That is the truth of the Gospel.

So why on earth should He hold it back until we acknowledge it? it makes no logical sense

It is perverted human justice. Surely God must want something for HIs grace. Surely God would not forgive the sins of people who do not acknowledge them (or Him). Surely the forgiveness is only for…


God has decided to forgive our sins. Believe it.


I guess he doesn’t.

Actually, this is a case where I am genuinely interested about passages that seem to refute my claim.

I grew up in a Lutheran church where there was a very strong emphasis on grace - you could not and are not allowed to add anything to grace. The idea of people making a decision to receive grace or follow Jesus was not well looked upon because it seemed to add something to grace. The teaching was that you were born from above and got the Holy Spirit in infant baptism and that was it, you are saved by grace without doing anything, do not add anything to it. Persons belonging to the revival movements within the church may speak about a ‘return to the grace of baptism’ when they are calling people to turn to Christ - I would call this an euphemism of the message of Jesus ‘repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.

When I became seriously interested about the will of God and started to read biblical scriptures, I noted that the case was not as clear as I had heard.
The importance of baptism as a sacrament that saves made it interesting to think about the human input in salvation. In the baptism, there is a human decision to be baptized, although in the case of an infant, this decision is made by the parents.
The teaching of the Lutheran church is that all are not saved, there are persons who will be doomed. What makes this difference? You can believe in predestination to heaven (humans have no part in the decision) but if you do not believe in double predestination, there is a human contribution involved.

The meaning of ‘grace’ in this context seems to be that Jesus made the hard work, payed the price, so you do not have to earn salvation by living a sinless life - grace is a gift, not a salary. However, it is not pushed on you while you sleep, it is an open door with a call to come in through the door, for free. In this, it includes the contribution of the human as an acceptance of the gift offered by God.

Although this seems to be a fairly obvious case, the childhood time teaching about grace without any human contribution, not even acceptance, sometimes give a distant echo in my mind. This makes me sometimes think if I could be wrong and open to the possibility that I have interpreted the teaching of the biblical scriptures in a wrong way. For this reason, I am interested of passages that seem to refute my claim.

By the way, I have a similar kind of attitude towards my other interpretations. I acknowledge that my current interpretations are perhaps not the whole truth and therefore, I am open to correction if someone can show where my interpretations are misunderstandings.


I repeat, you won’t find any. Especially in Paul who is more concerned with faith v Works.

Paul claims that grace is attained by faith, but even that is adding to Grace.
Is accepting a form of works? Is beleiving a form of works?
I guess there would be a diverse opinion erring on the no.

I would generally concur. Grace by definition is free and without caveat.

And that is the whole point. Grace as such is never the centre of an argument it is always on the peripheral. IOW No one in scripture either thought it necessary to understand Grace, or, assumed it was fully understood, or, were not prepared to claim universal grace

the nearest is In Titus 2 11For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

It says what I want but in all honesty it is not what the scripture is talking about.

You could easily claim that Scripture puts acceptance as a proviso for receiving the grace of forgiveness.

Therefore it becomes an individual understanding, based on our understanding of grace itself and the scope of the Passion in terms of who it was/is for, and who it can be applied to.

There is no doubt that you need to accept and believe the forgiveness to make it real for yourself. The question is

Did Christ die for the sins of the world?


Did Christ die so that we can receive forgiveness through faith in Him.

Paul would seem to favour the latter

But can we disagree with Paul? (I have a feeling that I know the answer from certain members here)


Yes. I am a methodological naturalist in that sense. But the difference is that science is based on causes and effects which are measurable (with procedures independent of what we want or believe). This is not the case when it comes to grace or other spiritual matters.

But logical coherence between cause and effect? Yes. That is the difference between reality and a dreamworld.

Yes. Forgiveness is given freely because Christianity isn’t about God tormenting people because of what they have done. Christian salvation about the destructive nature of sin itself. Sin creates hell not God. Forgiveness is given freely to help us to let go of sin. But too much cheap forgiveness sends the wrong message because no amount of forgiveness can keep sin from destroying us.

Reducing “salvation and grace is a gift” to simply “forgiveness is a gift” trivializes the whole message. To say that “salvation cannot be earned” is no more than the simple fact that forgiveness cannot be earned, really misses the point. The real meaning is that the removal of our self-destructive habits requires the work of God. But this is not to say that it is done by some easy and painless divine magic. It is a work in our lives (and beyond) that is going to be long, difficult and painful. We are talking about changing who we are – who we have made ourselves to be by our own choices (choices which blind and cripple us). That can only happen by making new choices and God has to teach us those new choices. It is more difficult than it sounds, for these new choices have to rebuild the sight/awareness and abilities we have thrown away.

Why do you say that? I certainly don’t think so.

Assurance is entitlement. That is indulgence not forgiveness.

Forgiveness by itself is meaningless.

Salvation is transformation not forgiveness.

Not everyone is aware that they need it, but yeah, everyone needs it.

Obviously we need to, because if we don’t, there are consequences. God does not need anything (or ‘God does not need anything’) but he does have desires. He desires his children to love him back. He does have requirements for us however, not that our fulfillment of them will earn us anything.

There are two kinds of grace. So you are correct regarding the first kind, common grace – if we don’t recognize it, we don’t know that we have it. We cannot not have it and no, it certainly does not need validation. But knowing that we have it, we can be thankful. (God doesn’t owe us anything – tragedies are tragic and I weep over them, but that’s life, unfortunately to sound callous and blasé.)

That we’re still here is evidence of that there is such a thing. :slightly_smiling_face: The alternative is maybe vaporization?

If it were not for God’s patience and love through the work of Christ, wanting to adopt more into his family, the earth would have been a cinder long ago. God doesn’t owe us anything.

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
Lamentations 3:22


They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:23

Hence the famous hymn.


Paul was just a human as any of us. When he tells something as his own opinion, we can disagree.

The question becomes more difficult when Paul writes something as the will of God. Paul was sent by Jesus and shared the understanding of many other key followers of that time. The ecumenical meetings confirmed that the writings were authoritative.

We can of course disagree with Paul even in the matters that he wrote as the will of God but if we disagree with what the apostles of Jesus told and the universal church confirmed, we are on very thin ice. We do not anymore have the support of scriptures or tradition. What we believe becomes just our own opinion.


(Now we are not talking about common grace, but ‘special grace’.)

No, that grace is not attained by by faith. What is attained by faith is the awareness of it. Awareness of a gift is not adding to it nor ‘a form of works’.

One can see the results of a cause without necessarily knowing the how, however. (‘How how’ – the language is fun… and strange too. ; - )

No dreamworlds involved.

If you mean the councils, those are at the tail end of the process. The canonization of the scriptures began with every local congregation asking what was suitable to be read during worship. This started off with the letters of Paul as the churches he wrote to shared copies with other churches, then other writings as they became available. When Christians traveled, they would often carry letters introducing them to other churches, and those letters of introduction came to contain lists of what their church read in worship and asking what other churches did, and when the lists differed copies of what was on one list and not on the other were exchanged and the different churches made their own judgments. When groups of local churches gathered they would all compare lists, and when there was agreement they would state what was read in their churches, not just one church but the whole group.
This process worked its way upward, resulting in unanimous agreement concerning nineteen of the documents in our New Testaments long before anything but local and some slightly broader councils got involved. When broader councils did get involved, they just continued the process, noting what was read (in worship) in their churches. So when Athanasius and other patriarchs and then regional councils got involved they were just announcing the consensus among all their churches.
That’s what makes the canon catholic: the decisions arose “from the whole”, ἐκ καθολικῃ (ek ka-thol-lik-kay), they weren’t decreed top-down but grew from the bottom up.


Indeed that’s the reason for the scriptures: it gives an objective source that can’t just be changed on a whim, a source that is authoritative and not mere opinion. Plus it is authoritative not because it matches some human standard but because the Holy Spirit speaking through all the churches endorsed it.


I would disagree. If you are feeling guilty forgiveness is everything

Salvation involves a destination. Saved from what? Judgment?

Forgiveness negates judgment and without judgment there can be no reward or punishment.

So it depends on what you are emphasising:

Heaven and Hell (eternal life)
Guilt and the consequences of sin.

If there is no sin then there are no consequences from it.

Can you have both?

If Heaven is the reward for believing in Jesus then yes.

If heaven is the reward for having no sin, then no

This sort of changes the Christian message.

Are we proclaiming the forgiveness of sins?
Are we proclaiming a faith in Christ Jesus as the means of that forgiveness

It would appear that the result can mean either all go to heaven or only those who believe in Christ Jesus.

I wonder which one would reflect a universal God and which would reflect one who can ignore 75% of His creation?


Yeah, it’s a bit of an odd statement to say that grace is “attained” by anything at all. Grace is received not by any act of taking but by surrender, by a cessation of rebellion. Faith isn’t about making a judgment and “accepting” grace, it’s about dropping our weapons, dropping to our knees, and allowing God to fill our empty hands with His gift.


[NASB 20] Philipians 2:12-13: " So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure."

Make that “forgiveness feels like everything”.
But forgiveness, as Martin Luther noted, is not alone, for where there is forgiveness there is “life, health, and salvation”, there is transformation from an “old man” to a new one. In the west this tends to be called sanctification; in the east it is divinization – but in both it is being transformed into the image of Christ.


Hey, everybody cheer! @RichardG and @Dale agree on something! :tada: :balloon::grin:

It’s also hard to repent and ask for forgiveness if there’s no sorrow. It’s not all just a head trip (although emotional easy-believism is a thing).

There are (at least) two “causes” of grace: the source from which grace springs, and the means through which it is applied to us. That source is the Cross, and that means is faith.

And yet faith is not a cause in the ordinary sense, because faith is not an instrument by which we reach out and grasp something, it is rather a surrender of all attempts at grasping, a submission to the will of God regardless of what His plan(s) for us may be. It is not something we generate, it is rather something God gives when we let go – and thus faith itself is the result of grace.


That would be the Pietist position for certain, but I don’t think it is totally correct. I have seen people repent not due to any sorrow but due to recognizing the results of what they had done and revulsion at their actions. In those cases sorrow came later more as a fruit of repentance rather than a cause.

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Yes, thanks for that.