Augustine understanding of grace and salvation
Grace, according to the understanding of Augustine of Hippo, is the link between the creation of commands by God and the human obedience to such commands. The beliefs of Augustine on the issue of grace are based on the gospel of St. John, the first chapter’s sixteenth verse. According to Augustine of hippo, commonly referred to as St. Augustine, there is an exceptionally close relationship between God’s grace and salvation. While Augustine describes salvation as the conversion of the fallen human being, he explains that such salvation does not come out of the free will of human beings; instead, such free will must be coupled with the grace of God, in order to achieve free will. Apparently, St. Augustine implies that, while the power of God works through human beings, such power does not take away the free will of the people. He therefore explains grace as the ability to do god. He explains that such ability comes from the power or the grace of God. He further explains that it is through doing such good deeds that human beings will be able to rise from the fallen state. This paper seeks to explain, in more detail, St. Augustine’s view of grace and salvation.
In his confessions, St. Augustine quotes the sixteenth doggerel of the first section of the gospel of John. The chapter, which discusses the issue of grace for grace attempts to explain how working with the grace of God can yield happiness to the individual. Worth noting is the actuality that according to Augustine, the objective functions of all human beings is, definitely, to be blissful. Augustine further explains that such happiness can only be achieved through doing well and accepting that God is the giver of joy and happiness. Augustine further explains that human effort, without the grace of God, is a pointless effort as it cannot yield happiness and if it does, such happiness will be short-lived. Augustine of Hippo explains that grace that brings salvation is achieved through God’s will to give the human race joy that is sovereign. Additionally, Augustine understands that such grace brings about the will of a person to be converted from the fallen state to a new state where Jesus Christ is viewed as the sole savior.
Augustine, in his fourth century literally works, explained that grace can be described as God’s deliberate efforts to changes the heart of man so that the entire human race could desire His glory above everything. This is where the link between salvation and grace, in the view of Augustine, comes in. the essence is that God’s grace drives people into accepting conversion in such a way that they wish for the kingdom of God. In other words, explains Augustine, salvation is initiated by God through his sovereign powers. The fourth century theologian believes that God desires to have man converted back to the great being he was at the point of creation. Augustine bases this on the fact that man was created in the image of God. This, according to Augustine is to say that man was perfect until sin imprisoned him in a bad state, which God endeavors to pull him out of. God endeavors to save man out of the prison of sin through giving him the gift of grace. The gift of grace is described as something on which the salvation of humans depends.
In his confessions, Augustine notes that once he was converted, he began to ask God for the strength and ability to obey His commands. This is to say that besides creating the commands, God gives human beings the ability or strength to obey such rules and commands. Basically, the argument Augustine puts across is the fact that humans cannot willingly obey God. There has to be the intervention of the grace of God Almighty. Such intervention should give the human race the power to control their free will in such a style that it is inclined to the will of God. Clearly, then, grace, which is the power of God over the will of man is the link between God’s institution of commands and human beings’ will to accept and obey such commands. Augustine believes than free will leads to the establishment of behavior. And such behavior makes man lose control of his intent.
The works of the apostles, most prominently the epistles of St. Paul were inspired by the grace of God. It is for this very point that, according to St. Augustine, the early churches, such as the church of Corinth was founded on, and always preached the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Such faiths as the catholic faith borrowed from the early apostolic church and are, hence, based on the grace of God. Their main belief is the fact that human salvation, a concept on which the protestant churches understand differently, is rooted in the will of God. As such, such salvation is motivated and initiated by God through his grace. St. Augustine as well understands grace as the foundation of the historical orthodox doctrines of God’s power and sovereignty.
When Augustine analyzes salvation, he begins from the point of creation, and he does it in three different stages. The first phase is the point of creation. The second and the third points are the fall of man and the redemption respectively. According to Saint Augustine, man was created in the identical image of the Almighty. This is to say that since the Creator is deemed perfect, the man was as well perfect at the time of creation. The theologian goes ahead to explain how such perfect nature got eroded by free will. Again, here, Augustine refers to the first chapter of the first book of the Bible. He argues that man was given free will at that he could act in whichever way deemed fit. As such, he acted without the influence of either God or any being superior to man. Since the free will of man was not at all regulated, explains Augustine, the human being, Adam developed a routine conduct referred to as behavior. Such behavior caused man to lose control of his understanding of what God expected of him. As such, he fell. Man, explains Augustine, fell into a prison of sin and could not easily manage to get himself out of the pit without the grace of God.
It is at this point that St. Augustine comes to the third phase, which is redemption or salvation. Salvation, according to Augustine, refers to the efforts and intention by God to have man get out of the prison of sin. According to Augustine, then, man needs some supreme intervention so as to get out of the prison of sin, a condition that Augustine of Hippo describes as sickness. Going back to Augustine’s explanation of the temptation to sin, it is worth noting that man was perfect at first before the issue of free will. The Creator gave Adam the ability to decide what he really wanted to do in the pious Garden of Eden. As man explored his environment, he developed a habit. It is this habit that led man into sinning. Augustine explains habit as the primary cause of sin in the world. Habit was formed where there was absence of the grace of God. Free will, according to Augustine, cannot align the ways of man towards the paths of salvation. Instead, habit will tend to push man deeper into sin, making him lose the sense of purity.
Grace is explained by Augustine as the driving force towards salvation, conversion or redemption. The major reason as to why Augustine describes redemption as the work and will of God is because upon redemption, God forgives all converts, a situation most Christians refer to as the washing away of sins. Therefore, God initiates the process and idea of salvation, so that He can redeem his lost creation and have it enjoy the highest happiness, which is eternity. Augustine, in explaining sin, he refers to it as sickness to imply that sinful people have lost the perfection that was accorded to them during creation. Apparently, sick people are not at all perfect, at least in the physical sense. It therefore needs healing from a higher being. Such healing is the redemption that comes from the grace of the Almighty God.
According to Augustine, salvation, which is brought about by the grace of God, requires the obedience of man. Such obedience is as well motivated by the grace of God. Considering that the grace of God is a reflection of the will and power of the supreme authority of God, man will always subordinate free will to the grace of God. While man has free will, the will of God is more advanced to the will and desires of man. It is for this reason the, according to Augustine, Jesus, who came in the shape of a normal human being, had to subordinate his will to have his father do away with the death, to the father’s will. Augustine describes Jesus as being the center of salvation. Augustine notes that, according to Jesus, nobody can go to his father, except through Him. This is to say that salvation can only come through God’s grace and God’s son, Jesus Christ.
St. Augustine of Hippo emphasizes the fact that Jesus is central to salvation through observing that the death of Jesus Christ was meant to save the sinners from dying. The sentence that Jesus served by dying on the cross, explains Augustine, is the sentence that sinners were to be subjected to in the event that they refused or remained reluctant to do the will of God. From the foregoing, it is quite apparent that, according to Saint Augustine of Hippo, there is a very close relationship between salvation and grace. The relationship is founded in the fact that grace is the demonstration of the will of The Creator to have man redeemed. Through such power, God enables people to do good things. It is through doing such good deeds that man can be saved from the illness of sin.