If you desire to believe rightly and to possess Christ truly, then you must reject all works that you intend to place before and in the way of God. They are only stumbling blocks, leading you away from Christ and from God. Before God no works are acceptable but Christ’s own works. Let these plead for you before God, and do no other work before him than to believe that Christ is doing his works for you and is placing them before God in your behalf.

-Martin Luther


We’ve all surely heard the old joke about the religious man who climbed up onto his roof when a flood hit, praying for God to save him. A boat came by, and he waved them off—Save someone else, God will save me.  A helicopter came by—same thing. The flood waters rose higher, and he drowned.   When the religious man got to meet God, he demanded, Why didn’t you save me when I prayed?   God simply responded—I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter…

The help that God sent in Jesus Christ is all the help we need—for without him we can’t fight our way out of a wet paper bag spiritually.   Our chances of getting into heaven without the free gift of salvation in Christ are zilch—nada—nothing.  And when it comes to living the Christian life without the empowerment of God the same holds true—we don’t stand goldfishes chance in a pool filled with piranhas.

We can’t add a pennies worth to all the riches of heaven—anything we have to offer God was a gift in the first place.

 Jesus sensed that his disciples were having a hard time with this and said, ‘Does this throw you completely? What would happen if you saw the Son of Man ascending to where he came from? The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making. But some of you are resisting, refusing to have any part in this.’ (Jesus knew from the start that some weren’t going to risk themselves with him. He knew also who would betray him.) He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you earlier that no one is capable of coming to me on his own. You get to me only as a gift from the Father.’   (John 6:61-65, The Message Bible)

We have no chance of following Jesus without the grace God gives—namely, the power of the living Christ flowing and breathing through us.