While we were on vacation recently, I heard a song by Alan Jackson playing on the radio. One line in particular caught my attention. In the song Where I’m From, Jackson states that he/they are “workin’ hard to get to heaven.” I don’t know if anyone was listening, but I said out loud, “One thing is sure; you don’t understand the gospel.”
The gospel isn’t about our “workin’ hard.” It’s really about God’s “workin’ hard” for us. Or to put it another way: I do not work hard to get to heaven, I work hard because I am going to heaven. I do not labor to earn my heavenly citizenship. I labor because I already possess heavenly citizenship. Yep–you may have guessed it–I am a protestant. I am a child of the reformation, and I appreciate the reformers’ stress that salvation is sola gratia–by grace alone.
I came across this quote from theologian John Frame recently: “Grace is not like a box of candy that you can send back if you don’t want it. Grace is divine favor, an attitude of God’s own heart. We cannot stop him from loving us, if he chooses to do so. Nor can we stop him from giving us blessings of salvation: regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, glorification. His purpose in us will certainly be fulfilled, Phil. 1:6, Eph. 1:11.” (www.monergism.org).
God gives. We receive. It isn’t much more complicated than that.