I think so. First of all it is a great doctrine of the Reformed Faith that our salvation, meaning a relationship with God, is by GRACE ALONE through CHRIST ALONE. We cannot earn grace. But we can make the effort to cooperate with grace to make progress in our Christian life.

I think it’s what Paul meant when he wrote to the church in Philippi for the folks there to work hard on their salvation because God was at work in them to live for God’s will and pleasure. (See Philippians 2)

Make no mistake. God acts first in our lives while we are absolutely helpless to do anything for ourselves in the way of a relationship with God. This is all affected through the sacrifice of Christ for our sins.

If we though want to learn the scriptures to draw inspiration and direction in our lives from God we make the EFFORT to open the Bible and carefully read. These words will not come by placing the Bible under our pillow and waiting for the scriptures to somehow radiate into our minds.

If we need and want to forgive someone we first depend upon God’s grace that has forgiven us and then we make a determined effort to forgive the other perhaps in some small first steps moving to cooperate with God in God’s desire to pardon and free us and the other. And while we do so we will experience GRACE at work.

Like in sports, grace is the invitation to be on the team. Grace is making the cut. Effort is like practicing, sharpening the God-given skills and sometimes you discover just how great grace can be through efforts that you make.

Effort is the opening of the door for the Holy Spirit to affect God’s will in our lives.

Effort is making the decision to decline so much of the world’s invitation to conform and thus work towards allowing God to transform our minds through disciplines such as prayer, reading, fellowship in order that we can better know the will of God. (See Romans 12)

I think of Abraham called by God (grace) and then leaving his homeland (effort) to find out what God had willed for him. Sometimes we won’t know the full measure of God’s grace until we step into the abyss and abandon ourselves to our Lord. And if we find that we cannot make that effort, no worry. God’s grace is full of patience, understanding and another door WILL open.

By the way, I read that Ben didn’t originate that phrase but as a deist he perhaps did not understand the full effect of God’s saving grace in his life.

Heart Condition

A Tree and its Fruit– from Luke 6:44,45  “For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.  The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

Seems that if we get our hearts right with God, before the face of God, in this present moment then from inside of us, as it were, will good things come.

Meister Eckhart (a monk writing about 1300 A.D.) says that to God it matters little WHAT we do but what matters is the attitude of our hearts that leads us to our deeds. This is good news for those of us who feel like small contributors to the Kingdom life perhaps because of our circumstances or because we are so new to this life of faith.  Most people look on the external conditions but God looks on the heart even the heart that struggles to be faithful.

And let us not think that it is in outward performing of our deeds we somehow earn God’s love. No all our effort is to get our hearts in good condition and in the right place so that FROM such a heart good will naturally come to the glory and praise of our God. Amen