Quotations Theological Reflections

God Completes Salvation

Karl Rahner, �He Is the One Who Started It� [from Biblical Homilies]

[Speaking of Philippians 1:6-11] We are all the work that God the Father has begun in his grace through Christ Jesus in the Holy Spirit. He has begun the good work in us, we have not. But he has begun it through our freedom, and it is always questionable, as it were�it is always the one great all-embracing question, comprehending time and eternity�whether the work that has been begun will be brought to completion.
And when the apostle asks this question, when he asks whether what he has begun with words and tears, with penance, anguish, and all the power of his apostolic work and suffering will really be brought to completion or whether it will run down and atrophy�when he asks whether these men and women who have now made a start will one day enter into the glory of divine light as children of the light, asks with fear and trembling because no one is certain of his salvation�then he lifts up his eyes to God, his heart is filled with confidence, and he says: I am sure that God, who has begun this work, will bring it to completion.
And we too may say this, frail and helpless as we are, we whose Christianity is always running down and atrophying, we whom the stream of daily life is always threatening to swallow up, extinguishing whatever light and power, life and glory have begun to emerge in our Christianity. Instead of studying ourselves we ought to say: he who has begun this work�and it is not we who have begun it, not we in our weakness, even in our freedom�God, in the glorious power of his grace, will bring it to completion. And that is our bold assurance, our splendid sovereign confidence. He says: it is right for me to feel thus about you all, because, he says�and here something entirely personal and genuinely human comes into the power and grandeur of God’s work�because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Now if only Rahner would take our “splendid sovereign confidence” and move it into the realm of personal, subjective assurance in line with the Westminster Confession.

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