2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, NASB
I had opportunity recently to teach about salvation to our church as part of our 8 week study of the basics of Christianity. In my preparation, I read the above passage. I know that I have read it many times before but this time the words “what is due” stopped me.
Every religion, other than Christianity, has a stated system of works that when performed results in eternal life. As biblical Christians we must acknowledge the error found in those beliefs.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. NASB
What stopped me at “what is due” is the thought that the belief of working for salvation is an arrogant belief. It is not just erroneous. It is a denial of the sufficiency of the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. It is a judgment of God’s grace and deciding that man needs to add to it for it to be enough.
I am assuming that at one time or another we have all worked for someone. At the end of the pay period we would receive compensation for the work we performed. We felt that we were due that pay because of the work we did. It was owed to us. In light of the verse above I have a picture of someone coming to God at the judgment saying, “You owe me, God!” I shudder to think anyone would dare be so bold. But that is what those that deny God’s grace and strive to earn salvation are doing. They are boldly declaring that their works are worth more than the atonement of Christ. Truly the Lord is patient.
2 Peter 3:9