Here the grand paradox between a free gift and the eternal cost is presented. Salvation is free for us. We contribute absolutely nothing to the gift of our salvation. Shank points out that Jesus tells the woman at the well that if she knew who Jesus was she would ask of him for a drink and that the last call of the Bible is that whosoever will can drink freely of the water of life (Rev 22:17). Shank then asks the important question, “Does salvation, then, cost nothing?” His answer, “Indeed, nothing in all the universe has cost so much.” Yes salvation is free for us but it cost God the greatest price ever conceived.
In explaining the cost Shank makes a statement that I am a bit uneasy about. He says, “the acceptance of an identification with humanity so complete that He must forever remain the Son of man—a circumstance from which there can be no retreat in all eternity to come.” I’m sure he isn’t saying that Jesus will always be in the same form as he was on this earth. Rather I think he is alluding to such passages like 1st Corinthians 15:23-28 where Christ is seen as turning the Kingdom over to God and being in subjection to God the Father. The idea is that the function the Son accepted as subordinate to the Father will last for all of eternity. I understand the point but I think there is some other things to take into consideration.
- Jesus was God, is God, and always will be God. Therefore, his will is always in line with the Father’s will.
- This gets into the more complex topic of God & time. The scheme of redemption was worked out before the foundation of the world and therefore it was a present reality in God’s mind before the world began. But what does that even mean? I do not believe we will ever completely understand how God can exist outside of time and yet in time at the same time. Furthermore, is there a separate aspect of time from our space-time continuum? Therefore, I am a bit hesitant to make statements about how things will be in eternity.
- We do know that Jesus has the same glory now and forever more that he had before the incarnation (John 17:5).
There are some things we do know that it cost God. Shank points out two major ones.
(1) Jesus had to obey to the point of death on the cross
(2) the Holy Spirit has an “agelong ministry of patiently wooing the stubborn hearts of sinful men…”
I would also add that:
(3) the Father had to endure the pain of pouring out His wrath upon another person of the God-head
(4) the eternal memory in the Son’s mind of the pain of humanity and the punishment of the cross.
Even though the gift of salvation is free to us it still, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “bids us to come and die.” Shank rightly points out the separation modern preaching has created between accepting Jesus as your Savior and on the other hand as your Lord. There is a cost to discipleship that we must count as Luke writes in his Gospel 14:25-35. Shank puts it this way, “He who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” said also, “take my yoke upon you.” We cannot find rest for our souls in Him unless we take His yoke upon us.” If we are going to preach the whole Gospel then we must stress both sides of the coin; salvation is a free gift but it calls us to a definite change of our entire being that involves the whole man, our affections and intentions. The same Jesus who told the thief on the cross that by his confession he would be in paradise also told the rich young ruler to sell all he had in order to be a disciple.