Tuesday, December 26, 2017

By his sustaining grace

Although human repentance is an essential aspect in the process of reconciliation, the book of Joel makes it clear that the process is initiated by God. The prophet underlines though that human repentance does not guarantee divine forgiveness. Yhwh cannot be coerced into a favorable response (Joel 2:14; cf. Amos 5:15, Jonah 3:9). Achtemeier notes:

Repentance is not a meritorious work that compels God to accept us. When we have done all that is required of us, we are still unworthy servants (see Luke 17:10), and the truly repentant know that they have no goodness of their own to claim, but depend solely on the mercy of God. As the saying goes, the true saint is one who knows that he or she is a sinner.[Achtemeier, “Joel,” 319–20]
The reality is that the covenant relationship, at anytime in the history of the people of God, has been preserved by God. From the beginning, Israel, Judaism, and Christianity have been forgiven and are restored communities (cf. Gen 8:21, Exod 34:9, Luke 15:11–24). There was a covenant and a new covenant, but only because it has been graciously initiated and maintained from God’s side.—Standing in the Breach pages 470–71

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