No Brownie Points

God… has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  2 Timothy 1:8b

Hi friends,

I don’t know about you but getting and living this grace stuff with God is difficult when at the same time I live a quid pro quo kind of life everywhere else.

Let me explain: I’m coaching basketball now and if a player doesn’t make it to the practice before a game, if he is a starter, he won’t start the next game.

In other words, he has to perform in order to get what he desires, starting in the game. Quid pro quo – an exchange of goods or services, where one transfer is contingent upon the other. It’s how the world works.

You can probably think of hundreds of other examples from your daily life too

Heck, it's how we train our kids!

So…is anyone else having trouble with this or am I the only one? Hey I'm just being honest here. 

There is a book called Holiness By Grace written by Bryan Chapell. This author observes how the idea that our good works will not earn salvation runs counter to our natural way of thinking.

“You got that right Bryan.”

He tells a joke about a guy who dies and faces Peter at the gates of heaven. (I hate these kinds of jokes. Anyway here goes…)

Peter says, “Here’s how this works. You need a hundred points to make it into heaven. You tell me all the good things you’ve done, and I’ll tell you how many points they’re worth.”

The guy says, “OK, I was married to the same woman for fifty years and never strayed, not even in my heart.”

“Great!” says Peter. “That’s worth three points.”

“Three points? Well,” the man continues, “I attended church my whole life and gave offerings and volunteered!”

“Awesome!” says Peter. “One point.”

The guy’s starting to panic now as he blurts out, “Hey, I helped open a shelter for the homeless and I fed hundreds of needy people every Thanksgiving!”

“Right, that’s two more points,” says Peter.

“TWO POINTS!?!” cries the man, “At this rate the only way I’ll ever make it to heaven is by the grace of God!”

“Congratulations,” Peter says with a twinkle in his eye, “Come right on in.”

The Bible says that God is no one’s debtor (Romans 11:35).

He is God; He doesn’t owe anybody anything. Therefore, it’s illogical to think that God owes me salvation because of my good works. It can only be by grace.

But this can be hard to take!

Even the famous reformer Martin Luther wrote:

The heart is always ready to boast of itself before God and say, “After all, I     have preached so long and lived so well and done so much, surely He will take this into account.” …But it cannot be done. With men you may boast, but when you come to God, leave all that boasting at home and appeal from justice to grace. …But let anybody try this and he will see… how exceedingly hard it is.… I myself have been preaching… [the message of grace] for almost twenty years and I still feel the old clinging dirt of wanting to deal so with God that… He will have to give me His grace in exchange for my holiness. And I still cannot get it into my head that I should surrender myself completely to sheer grace; yet this is what I should and must do.

Wow, Martin! That was awesome.

As Bryan Chapell points out, the hymn writer of the old song Rock of Ages got it right:

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to Thy cross I cling;
naked, come to Thee for dress;
helpless, look to Thee for grace;
foul, I to the Fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

Now, a couple of question to think about.

Why do our good works not make God love us more?

If that’s true, then why do good works?

Let me tell you, you can spend a lot of hours talking about these questions, and you should. Find a friend, sit down and pour a nice glass of whatever it is you like to drink, and engage in some deep talk about God. (Nod to D)


Make the lyrics of Rock of Ages quoted above into your prayer today.

Grace ~ Peace,

Pastor Jeff