Stuck in the Mud

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
Romans 9:16
I often remember the time a national children’s ministry used our church facilities for one of their regional conferences. I thought I would pass out when I heard and read their promotional materials. ‘Come learn from the experts’, they proudly boasted. I guess they actually felt responsible for the supposed success their ministry had generated. So much for the glory of God. It’s terrifying how quickly Christians can move over from grace into some sort of system of works. We started by faith, we have to finish by grace through faith. Martin Luther understood the message of mercy and grace. Check out his thoughts on this important truth.
“Even with extreme effort, learning to depend on God’s mercy is difficult— We are so rooted in our habits, and our hearts are so used to it, that we can’t stop thinking this way: “If I have lived a holy life and done great and many works, then God will be merciful to me.” It’s extraordinarily difficult to change our thinking and clearly distinguish between faith and love. Even if we already have faith, the mud still sticks and clings to us. We keep wanting to brag, “I have preached so long, have lived so well, and have done so much. Surely God will take note of that.” We want to bargain with God. We want him to look at our lives and change the judgment seat into the mercy seat because of what we have done. But nothing will come of this. You may be able to tell other people, “I have tried to do good to everyone. Where I have fallen short, I will try to make it up.” But when you come before God, leave such bragging at home. Remember that you are appealing for grace, not justice.”
Every Christian leader has struggled with the temptation to take credit for all that the Lord has done. The Lord told Paul that he had received a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, because of the revelations he had received from the Lord. The Lord did not want Paul to slip out of grace into works. He wanted Paul to stay totally dependent on God’s grace. What was God’s answer to Paul when he asked the Lord to remove the thorn? “My grace is sufficient for you”.

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