Who needs grace?


“I believe [this] is the way most Christians live the Christian life. We act as if God’s grace only makes up what our good works lack. We believe God’s blessings are at least partially earned by our obedience and our spiritual disciplines.

We know we are saved by grace, but we think we must live by our spiritual ‘sweat.’

So who needs grace?

All of us, the saint as well as the sinner. The most conscientious, dutiful, hardworking Christian needs God’s grace as much as the most dissolute, hard-living sinner. All of us need the same grace.

The sinner does not need more grace than the saint, nor does the immature and undisciplined believer need more than the godly, zealous missionary.

We all need the same amount of grace because the ‘currency’ of our good works is debased and worthless before God.”

– Jerry Bridges
Transforming Grace

Transforming-Grace_Jerry Bridges

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Every day in October I’m sharing a short quote on grace from a favorite book.

31 Quotes of Grace 2014_LisaNotes

15 thoughts on “Who needs grace?

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I agree that we all need grace, and in the same amount, but the last sentence really sticks in my craw.

    If, to God, the sacrifice of Fr. Maximillian Kolbe (as an example) is debased and worthless…that would be so totally at odds with both the implicit and explicit message of the Gospel and NT as to be unrecognizable.

    There is not a causal link between ‘needing grace’ and ‘all good works are debased and worthless’; it’s a misapprehension of the Pauline comparison of his opinion of himself to the reality of God.

    Otherwise, how could Paul have said “I have fought the good fight”? It’s internally inconsistent.

    As for needing grace…I can’t take a full breath this morning, so I need a LOT. And some prayers.This is kind of scary.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What comes to my mind is Isaiah 64:6–that our righteous acts are like filthy rags. It doesn’t mean we don’t do some good things, and especially so with the Lord’s help. But if you add up all the “good” things we can ever do, strip out all our impure motives, we’re not left with much on our own, especially in comparison with Perfection Himself. I also think about Max Lucado’s analogy of being able to jump high enough to reach the moon. Even the person who can has a great vertical leap is still nowhere near close enough to make it to the moon.

      Still, perhaps that last line comes on a bit strong–I do see what you’re saying–but without grace, we’re nothing.

      Praying for lots of grace on you today as you struggle for deep breaths this morning. 🙁 I’m so sorry. I don’t know what to say because it makes me very sad, except that I will be praying for you, brother, and for your wife. Keep us posted on how you’re doing when you’re able.

      1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        Thanks for the prayers. Today is not easy.

        I think that it’s more a matter of ‘kind’ than ‘distance’, and therein, I think, lies the comparison. Thinking that our good efforts get us grace through their quality or scope is something like a man, filled with unrequited love, thinking that running a 3:30 mile will win him the love of the woman of his dreams.

        The athletic achievement is fine and laudable, but it’s an effort that can never succeed in and of itself; it’s like shaking hands, with only one person participating.

        God’s grace is what makes the mortal immortal; it’s the sculptor bringing the statues to life. It’s not a judgement on what we do, any more than the beauty of an unanimated statue is worthless. It’s simply different, and even if it’s technically perfect – there’s a plateau beyond with it can’t rise.It has to be lifted the rest of the way.

  2. Barbara H.

    Amen. Good works out of love and appreciation and even obedience to God are one thing, but they can never work as “currency” (I like that application) to merit salvation or grace. And we can’t do them without grace – kind of like a child buying a present for her father with money she first had to ask the father for.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like the currency analogy too because I can relate to it so easily. It’s hard to break out of that mentality sometimes, but I’m glad it’s not about what we can pay!

  3. Dianna

    One of my MOST FAVORITE reads of the year, so far, Lisa! I am also learning that generally speaking when I find that I am “working” as if my living out my salvation depended on it, that I am not extending grace to those around me either. Those are the times I find myself being the most critical/judgmental.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you love this book as much as I do, Dianna! You make a good point: when we’re working for points ourselves, we’re likely to be demanding them from others too. But when we’re accepting grace, we’re more likely to be giving it as well.

  4. Jerralea

    I’m loving this discussion! The sentence that really leaped out at me was “We know we are saved by grace, but we think we must live by our spiritual ‘sweat.’” Amen, that’s been me so often. What is it with we humans that we want to earn “brownie points” with God? I guess it is because deep down we know we aren’t worthy of grace, we just aren’t lovable, so why would God love us, But He does! That is the greatest mystery of the ages …

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right on top of it, Jerralea. We know intrinsically that we’re not worth his grace, so we keep trying to earn it. We are silly creatures, yes? ha. Definitely a mystery of the ages! He IS love. That’s what I just cannot fathom but am so thankful for.

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