Periodically our resident clown stops clowning around and reminds us that we are saved. He gets irritating when he presumes to tell us who is and who isn’t saved; when he matures in the Lord he’ll find he’s better off leaving that judgment to the only Just Judge; He and He alone knows who will be saved. He’ll also find that thinking that you are once saved, always saved, is a bit presumptuous too. But he has a point all the same. The Blood of the Lamb is shed for us all, and though all will not embrace the Lord, all have the chance. That mad and bad idea that God makes some of us for eternal damnation is a most damnable idea itself. What Father makes a child for hell? It is the child who will, as man or woman, reject the Father and embrace hell. I’ve a suspicion, but it’s no more, that heaven and hell are the same place, and that those who reject God and his love experience heaven as hell; they bring it on themselves and to the last, God leaves open the way. The way is narrow, but many are saved as well as lost, and we’re better not speculating on such high things. I find it hard enough to keep my eyes on the finishing line (though I’m near enough to it, God knows), and that’s my main job – as well as helping others know the Lord Jesus.
Our recent disagreements about annulment and the like are part of the wider divide between the Protestant and the Catholic world. I can see why my Catholic friends might think I am preaching cheap Grace when I say that those who embrace Jesus are covered by his blood – where’s the justice in a fellow who has been wrong all his life being able to come to God just the way a fellow who has been serving him all the days of his life? I tell you where, in God. The God who told us that the worker who comes at the last gets the same as the worker who came at the first hour; the God who tells us the Prodigal and the adulterous woman are forgiven. No one who truly embraces the Lord gets cheap Grace, because if they are real in their faith the know the price with which they were bought, and they kneel in amazement before the Lord in thanks and humility. They are not going to go off and so it again – that’s like a Protestant supposing that Confession is a cheap way out – just say sorry and you get let off. It isn’t so. If we are in Christ and He in us, there is sorrow, there is pain, there is penitence.
That’s why, though, some of us get a bit indignant about things like Canon Law and Indulgences and the rest of it. Yes, I can see the argument that you need a system of justice, but most societies have one and we abide by it. Among the brethren we sit down and we work it out. Christ didn’t say go to the lawyers, and if the Church got so big and complex it needs them, it ought to think why and what it could do to be more like the early Church.
There is one mediator – Jesus Christ the righteous. I take my case to him direct. I know some take it to him through a priest or a saint, and that was how they used to do things in the kingdoms of old, when the Queen Mother or the nobles were men and women you lobbied. But Our King is humble, He sits with the sinners whom he came to save. He exalts the little child and the women, those who were outcast. Those whose faith takes them in the direction of intercessions, fine, as with those whose faith does not.
In the end we come to him as we can, as he draws us. if he does not draw us we cannot come. His arms are out for us all, and for me, all who embrace him, however they do, as the saved. I hope we all persevere together, in faith, and meet in the sweet by and by.