Tom Wright says “no.” Grace, he says, does reach down to us where we are but that same grace, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, is transformative; God’s grace doesn’t accept but transform. But, he does come back agree: “God accepts us were we are, but God does not intend to leave us where we are.” (548). What do you think of this comment of his on Romans 6:15-23? Is the idea potentially dangerous to discipleship?
Many of us have known pockets of the Christian world where there was a major distinction between, say, salvation and discipleship or between justification and sanctification. Some of us, no doubt, were exposed to the idea that if you were saved you could actually do anything you wanted because you were eternally secure.
Wright’s comment above attacks that notion.
I have in my own life reflected on this some, and have often wondered the best way to deal with it. I see two major approaches: first, preach discipleship harder — rail away on the weakness of individual Christians today and highlight those weaknesses by showing just how committed Jesus wanted us to be. I would say I followed this approach from the time I read Bonhoeffer as a sophomore in college until I began teaching college students when it dawned on me that such an approach might get the whole notion of gospel and law mixed up. So, the second approach is to speak of God’s embracing grace, of the gospel of God, and of the power of God’s Spirit.
It would be unwise to choose between these, but I will offer this: If it is God’s grace that transforms, focus on God’s grace, God’s Spirit, and the gospel as the power of God for all of us in every way imaginable.