Pristine Grace

He Who Does the Work Gets the Glory
by John Pedersen
He Who Does the Work Gets the Glory

     The Bible calls moral virtue the fruit of the Spirit. I take this to mean that true moral virtue, as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc., when found in our experience, is ascribed to God, to His Spirit.

     It is a simple point, but a point that gets stuck like a bone in the throat of every Pharisee: God gets all the glory in salvation. Self righteous people cannot stand this; indeed, they hate this above everything else, because it attacks what makes them who they are. It indicts the thing dearest to them over everything else.

     To be sure, the expression, "God gets all the glory" is a popular phrase with religionists. The rub comes in the explanation, the accounting, the meaning of the expression.

     When a Pharisee says "God gets all the glory", he means he could never have attained such stratospheric heights of sanctification without God's help and "enabling grace".  In this way "God gets all the glory" is understood in the same manner the famous actor, applauded by his fawning fans, gives all the glory to his mother, his acting coach, and his lover as he receives the Oscar. Having done so, he brings it home and puts it on display.

     In contrast, when a Christian says, "God gets all the glory", he means it in the plainest, simplest sense:

     He who does the work gets the glory.

     The Christian confesses what is foolishness to the natural mind, and a sore offense to religionists the world over: My Christian life is a miracle whereby God, by His Son, works in me. Any good thing in my experience I ascribe to Christ, because I live by faith in Him Who loves me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

     The Christian describes his life as the Bible does: working out his own salvation with "fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). This "fear and trembling" is not fear God is going to "get you" if you "mess up". It is not terror of the prospect of divine retribution if you fail to do your Christian duty or maintain assiduous devotion to keeping His moral commands.

     This "fear and trembling" is reverential awe, trembling respect and wonder in view of this: Christ has done it all. He lived His sinless life of perfect obedience for you, and fully pleased God on your behalf. He met every demand of justice against your sin cursed life by having your sins charged to His account and paying, with his sinless, holy blood, the price demanded for those sins in full.

     So the Christian describes his experience. In thankfulness, he works out his own salvation. He strives, wills, chooses, says "no" to ungodliness, seeking, though inconsistently and imperfectly, to do what is good, ascribing all to God's working:

"...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13.

     With this, the one believing the gospel is called "Antinomian", and accused of teaching some strange doctrine that he somehow ceases to exist and becomes nothing more than a cipher through which Christ lives, a "shell" as it were, with no identity, no existence whatsoever, and when he insists that God does it ALL, he leaves open a door of sinful license, a cloak, a "cover" for his sin.

     For the Pharisee, the only way the Christian life will be a true success is if he is the key player, the one who brings it off, with lots of help from his biggest fan.

     For the Christian, the only way his life will demonstrate true moral virtue is if he is out of the picture altogether, and Christ lives in him.

     The Christian glorifies God. The Pharisee glorifies himself.