When we find ourselves facing an unfamiliar deep forest separating us from our destination, we don’t seek the advice of a student of forest paths. We’re not interested in learning how paths are made, or what constitutes a direct rather than a circuitous path.
We seek a guide, someone who is familiar with the destination, and knows the way or ways through the forest to arrive there.
It’s a mistake to think of the gospel of grace as a moral theory, a theory about the paths of life. It does not invite intellectual assent; it invites obedience, with or without assent. It doesn’t offer to edify, it offers to convince; it’s a promise, not an argument. The promise is that you will see, not that you will be confirmed in your beliefs.
A person being led through the far border of the forest and who suddenly sees the city in front of him is reaping the harvest of his obedience to the guide, not of his own perspicuity. The gospel of grace isn’t a theory, it’s a guide to life through the uncanny forest of the world.
But like any guide, it’s only of service to those who acknowledge the problem the forest presents.