Grace is neither an abstraction or universalism. Yet it is so radical that the religionist, holding fast to his ‘entitlement mentality’ will accuse grace of beings so.
The at-one-ment of God achieved in Jesus in which all humans have been reconciled in Christ is active and alive when we embrace it personally - so personally that Jesus said those who eat me will live because of me. By believing Jesus we are received into His life and His fellowship with heaven and each other.
REAL VERSUS HOLLOW UNION
We are no more one with God because we ate the bread and the wine than we one with our spouse because we have a marriage certificate. We are one with God because we live in the interwoveness that is ours instead of seeking union with God through the law. We are one with God because we are one with God.
The Lord’s Table is a sign and a reminder that we and Jesus are one. But we are one when we are living in this reality – not because we ate a wafer and quaffed a small cup of wine.
John 17 affirms that union with God and union with ourselves and each other is sourced in our union with God already accomplished. This is Christ’s appeal to us and His passion to see us flourish in the inheritance that flows from His cross and resurrection. When He appeals to us to come to Him He is inviting us to live in union with Himself and the trinity – a union He has forged for us.
Grace is radical but it is not universalism.
If universalism is not a ‘goer’ as regards salvation - universalism is not applicable to just any gospel that we adopt as our own. Jesus called these charades ‘tares’ and Paul called them ‘other gospels.’
You can’t just ‘make up’ a gospel and tell yourself, ‘This is my perspective.’ We are not at liberty to adopt a theological fantasy. Paul warns against ‘other gospels’ and Jesus cautions about false beliefs that grow false kingdoms that are called tares. Some of them have false christs.
Luke links the apostles teaching to the breaking of bread because in the new covenant Christ’s body is our life in the Spirit. This is the meaning of the Lord’s Table and of the words ‘Christ come in our flesh’. We have no need of the law here or of the abstruse culture of religious conformity because Christ is us. We live in the radical grace of Christ’s life, in its entirety because we eat Him.
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer’ Acts 2.42 NIV.
Torrance asserts, “The deposit of faith [known as the Gospel of the Kingdom] is to be understood as spanning two levels. On its primary level it is identical with the whole saving economy of the incarnate, crucified and risen Son of God. On its secondary level it is identical with the faithful reception and interpretation of the Gospel as under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit it took definitive form in the apostolic nucleus established by Christ for this very purpose, that is, in the apostolic foundation of the Church and thus in the New Testament Scriptures.” (1)
Jesus warned against false christs that emerge from ‘other gospels.’
Plainly a genuine gospel is the door to genuine inclusion in a genuine Body of Christ. A paddock of tares appears genuine but only on the surface. It has no immediately obvious features that undo the cross and reinstate the law, re-institute separateness from God and abolish the interwoveness with the trinity that is ours in believing the truth.
Truth has its own rewards - life without limit. (1) Torrance, Thomas F.. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 259). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.