Palimpsest: Your Own

Philippians 2:1-13


On Saturday, things began to get out of hand. Twenty-four letters to Harry found their way into the house, rolled up and hidden inside each of the two dozen eggs that their very confused milkman had handed Aunt Petunia through the living room window. While Uncle Vernon made furious telephone calls to the post office and the dairy trying to find someone to complain to, Aunt Petunia shredded the letters in her food processor. “Who on earth wants to talk to you this badly?” Dudley asked Harry in amazement. On Sunday morning, Uncle Vernon sat down at the breakfast table looking tired and rather ill, but happy. “No post on Sundays,” he reminded them cheerfully as he spread marmalade on his newspapers, “no *@# letters today -” Something came whizzing down the kitchen chimney as he spoke and caught him sharply on the back of the head. Next moment, thirty or forty letters came pelting out of the fireplace like bullets. The Dursleys ducked, but Harry leapt into the air trying to catch one—
- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

(John) Wesley likens the process of salvation to a house. Prevenient grace serves as the porch, justification as the door, and sanctification or holiness as the rooms of the house wherein we are called to dwell. We are now approaching the porch. Justification and sanctification describe both divine action and human response, but God’s action always comes first. Indeed, it begins prior to our being aware of it. This is the grace that “comes before” (pre-venio) we are conscious that God is seeking us out, using subtle, and not so subtle, nudges to awaken us to our true condition. Nowhere is the priority of grace more evident than here.—Theodore Runyan, The New Creation

No one answered. The noon-bell rang. Still no one spoke. Frodo glanced at all the faces, but they were not turned to him. All the Council sat with downcast eyes, as if in deep thought. A great dread fell on him, as if he was awaiting the pronouncement of some doom that he had long foreseen and vainly hoped might after all never be spoken. An overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace by Bilbo’s side in Rivendell filled all his heart. At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice. “I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring

Proceed we now to the Second point: If God worketh in you, then work out your own salvation. The original word rendered, work out, implies the doing a thing thoroughly. Your own; for you yourselves must do this, or it will be left undone forever. Your own salvation: Salvation begins with what is usually termed (and very properly) preventing grace; including the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first slight transient conviction of having sinned against him. All these imply some tendency toward life; some degree of salvation; the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart, quite insensible of God and the things of God. Salvation is carried on by convincing grace, usually in Scripture termed repentance; which brings a larger measure of self-knowledge, and a farther deliverance from the heart of stone. Afterwards we experience the proper Christian salvation; whereby, "through grace," we "are saved by faith;" consisting of those two grand branches, justification and sanctification. By justification we are saved from the guilt of sin, and restored to the favour of God; by sanctification we are saved from the power and root of sin, and restored to the image of God.
- John Wesley, Sermon #85 “Working Out Your Own Salvation”

· How have you experienced God’s invitation to you? Has it been subtle, or not so subtle? How long did you feel it before you responded?
· What has your response to God been like? If you have said “yes” what support did you have? How has it changed your life? Have you said “yes” more than once?
· Do you believe we are to work out our own salvation? Why?

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