Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

It's Not About My Failures. In Fact . . .
It's Not About My Performance At All!

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 14 April 2009

"God’s promises are never affected by our failures.
He can use us at any age."
~ Michael Youssef
from Leading the Way.


It' s interesting. . . When I read a quote like this, my mind immediately begins functioning in the realm of performance. After all, the very definition of "failure" implies performance . . . .

I'm thinking of all the different "religious" activities that Believers can perform in the various stages of life using their gifts, talents, resources. . .

At age eighteen:
God's Word tells us,
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. . . " (I Timothy 4:12)
. . . We use our youthful energy and excitement to engage in spiritual activities and programs that we know will advance His Kingdom. Regardless of our failures, God uses our performance. We are in His favor.

At age forty:
God's Word tell us,
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. . . " (Matthew 28:19)
. . . We use our education to instruct others and we tithe regularly, knowing that our money will help advance His Kingdom. Regardless of our failures, God uses our performance. We are in His favor.

At age seventy:
God' Word tells us that our
“age should speak; advanced years should teach wisdom.” (Job 32:7)
. . .We use our lifetime of education and wisdom to witness to everyone we meet and we pray hard, knowing that our works will help advance His Kingdom. Regardless of our failure, God uses our performance. We are in His favor.

However, from God's perspective (and what He tells us in His Word), our performance at any age is irrelevant. Probably laughable in His eyes -- if not pitied.

Why do we do this? Why does my own thinking go immediately towards the idea of performance?

An excerpt from The Journal of John Woolman (1720-1772) answers the question:

"But many others, having their religion chiefly by education and not being enough acquainted with that cross which crucifies to the world, do manifest a temper distinguishable from that of an entire trust in God."

Most of us are legalistic by nature, we innately think so much performance by us earns much favor and blessing from God. After all, this is how society works. Is the Christian life any different?

Peter had this attitude when he said to Jesus in Matthew 19:27, "We have left everything to follow you. Therefore what shall we have?" Peter had already added up his merit points, and he wanted to know how much reward they would buy. Jesus answer to him was, "many who are first will be last, and the last first."

Galatians 3:3 tells us this:

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now
trying to attain your goal through human effort?"

Ephesians 2:8-10 teaches us this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
it is the gift of God. . . "


"God's promises are never affected by our failures." Absolutely! But if we base His promises on performance -- regardless of our success or failure rate -- His promises can never ring true in our lives. Ever!

"He can use us at any age." Absolutely! But God uses us based on our readiness to accept His Grace -- Not our readiness to perform.

Do you understand grace?

A professor at a Christian college in Missouri once gave his students a penetrating, unforgettable picture of grace. A student from his class wrote this in an e-mail:

In the spring of 2002, I left work early so I could have some uninterrupted study time before my final exam in the Youth Ministry class at Hannibal-LaGrange college in Missouri. When I got to class, everybody was doing their last-minute studying. The teacher came in and said he would review with us before the test. Most of his review came right from the study guide, but there were some things he was reviewing that I had never heard. When questioned about it, he said they were in the book and we were responsible for everything in the book. We couldn't argue with that.

Finally it was time to take the test.

"Leave them face down on the desk until everyone has one, and I'll tell you to start," our professor, Dr. Tom Hufty, instructed.

When we turned them over, to my astonishment every answer on the test was filled it. My name was even written on the exam in red ink. The bottom of the last page said: "This is the end of the exam. The reason you passed the test is because the creator of the test took it for you.All the work you did in preparation for this test did not help you get the A. You have just experienced . . . Grace."

Dr. Hufty then went around the room and asked each student individually, "What is your grade? Do you deserve the grade you are receiving? How much did all your studying for this exam help you achieve your final grade?"

Then he said, "Some things you learn from lectures, some things you learn from research, but some things you can only learn from experience. You've just experienced grace. One hundred years from now, if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, your name will be written down in a book, and you will have had nothing to do with writing it there. That will be the ultimate grace experience."


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"God’s promises are never affected by our failures.
He can use us at any age."
~ Michael Youssef

"God uses us based on our readiness to accept His Grace
-- Not our readiness to perform."

~Esthermay Bentley-Goossen


© 2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife



This installment of InOtherWords is hosted today by Karen on her blog, In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus.

19 comments:

Rachel said...

Once again you have written an amazing post regarding the dangers of legalism and brought everything 'round to grace. Loved the illustration of your professor. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Barbara said...

AMAZING illustration of grace!

I have visited a few of the other In Other Words blogs and I always love the truth of Scripture that each one brings to the surface. Have to say I'm partial to your lesson on grace vs. works. :)
This really is an amazing thing you ladies do on Tuesdays.

sara said...

I really enjoyed this illustration. You have given me some things to chew on today...

Susan said...

Oh wow, this was soooooooooooo good!!

As usual I devour your posts!

Loved that illustration too.

Hope you are doing well Estherrmay, I've missed chatting with you!

Have you made it back to Infowars?

Blessings my sweet friend♥

PS Just got this quote in my email today, kinda goes along with your thoughts;


"The devil never tempts us with more success than when he tempts us with a sight of our own good actions." Thomas Wilson

kalopoieo said...

You state a profound truth when you write: "Most of us are legalistic by nature, we innately think so much performance by us earns much favor and blessing from God. After all, this is how society works. Is the Christian life any different?"

Our churches today desire so badly to reflect the world in every aspect that we've also taken on this "works/performance" mentality of the world right along with everything else. To preach simple biblical salvation by grace makes one "legalistic" or worse yet "old-school."

Good thoughts here.
I've read that grace illustration from Hannibal-LaGrange College before. A gifted professor is Dr. Hufty.

Laurie Ann said...

The lesson of grace leaves me tearful. I used to think alot about performance. Now...not so much. Excellent post, Esthermay!

iowachic said...

Why is grace so hard for people to understand? And why are we "old school" for teaching it? My brother is a pastor who recently moved from the Alabama to Wisconsin to pastor a new church. He shares how frustrating it is to deal with the Lutheran and Catholic background there in the northern United States where they don't teach grace at all! How will people be saved? It saddens my heart so much.
In my own life used to think I had to perform for my church leaders and my children and my husband and in-laws. It makes me tired and sick now to realize that those people are not the final judge yet I worked so hard to impress them. They didn't die for me either! "It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God"

Patricia said...

I read this, soaking it up until I got to the story of Grace...then I read with chills running up and down my arms. Wonderful!!! Thank you, wise friend.

Kate said...

You cannot argue with grace. You cannot argue the preaching of Salvation through the cross BY GRACE. I'm still wiping away tears from reading that professors lesson. This was awesome!

Rachel M. said...

Thank you for this post! Your illustration made me tear up a bit. Keep up the good work!

TRUTHSHARER said...

Truly a profound post here!

It reminded me of a simple truth: Our knowledge of Jesus Christ is the difference of 18 inches [the distance from our head to our heart]. It will be a sad day for those who knew [of] Him in their heads - but never experienced Him in the recesses of their rendered hearts!

GRACE - Oh the wonder and awe of His pure GRACE!

Looking Upward and Choosing JOY,
Stephanie
[Kneeling in Prayer]

Marsha said...

Oh Esthermay! I loved the illustration for grace! I must remember this one. Just excellent.
Loved this post.

Blessings to you!

Karen said...

I like your point about its not about our failures but our performances. Well said. Thanks for sharing today I enjoyed it.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Love the Dr. Hufty story.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I whole-heartedly agree! Wonderful post! And the Scriptures you chose to accompany each thought are perfect.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I whole-heartedly agree! Wonderful post! And the Scriptures you chose to accompany each thought are perfect.

Michelle Bentham said...

Grace... It's a good thing that God lavishes upon us. We are swimming in the grace of His love and scarcely recognize its benefit in this life.

Thanks for an amazing, yet again, post.

love you.

(My Tuesday post is not IOW... but you may find it debatable.)

Denise said...

Awesome as always dear one.

Kathy S. said...

Oh, that amazing stuff that is so hard for us performance~based people to wrap our puny little minds around...Only by grace!

I love the test illustration.

I was thinking about this quote today: "Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."

Perhaps it should be changed to "by Christ"

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