Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Human Merit

What is human merit when spoken of in a theological sense? How about Paul - what did Paul view as human merit? When Paul spoke of salvation by grace though faith and dispelled the notion that salvation could be obtained by human merit, what would Paul's audience have thought he was referring to? Is there a chance that amatuer theologians of today have a more complete definition and scope of what is included in human merit than the apostle Paul did?

What are your thoughts? Post your favorite Scripture on the subject if you want.


  • In my understanding of Paul's theses:

    Faith vs. Human Merit


    Faith <-------> Human Merit

    There is some confusion over merit hopping the fence and attaching itself to faith - or "personal response in faith."

    Somehow placing one's faith in Christ" is seen as meritorious.
    It seems that if we view man as responding to God in faith -apart from being regenerated first- then we are viewing salvation as by human merit.

    I am not sure what the name of this logical fallacy is, but it is a fallacy, of that I am sure.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/18/2008 11:17 AM  

  • I totally agree with your post and especially your comment, Rose. Hi, how in the world are you anyway. LOL

    Seriously, though, why can't we just sum up "human merit" as what the Son of man, as Jesus called himself, did to accomplish our salvation.

    By Blogger Kris, at 1/18/2008 11:40 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Kris, at 1/18/2008 11:41 AM  

  • I think we have a volitional responsibility that some people view as meritorious. Merit is something earned, something due. I'm with kris, somewhat. It's the work of Christ that merits salvation. This merit is the grounds for the imputed righteousness gifted to us through our belief in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. Belief, in and of itself, is not meritorious - it is not commendable. However, through the promise of God - the work of Christ that merits salvation is applied to whom it was intended for - sinners that believe in Him.

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at 1/18/2008 12:11 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Why is it that when we look at faith and trust in spiritual things, we lose our sense of understanding? Try to follow me on this....

    Is the belief in gravity meritorious? No...I don't give any merit to pilots or passengers who fly because they believe in gravity. We believe in gravity because we are told it is present and we have seen it's effects. We have tested gravity and found it to exist and therefore we put our trust in gravity. We trust it with our very lives everytime we fly. If we did not trust gravity, then each of us would be concerned that once we take off....we may never return to earth.

    We don't see gravity, but we have a level of faith in it's effect on our lives. Do we count it meritorious?

    We have never seen Christ. We did not witness his Crucificion or his Ressurection...yet we believe, and trust in Him with our very lives...and our eternal lives. We can see the effect of Christ in the lives of those who claim Him as Savior and be believe. Is that meritorious on our part? No!!!!

    OK, I feel better now. :)


    By Blogger Kurt, at 1/18/2008 1:34 PM  

  • Good evening, Rose! I agree. It seems to me if you have come to a point to see the need to place your faith in Christ, you know that you have no merit of your own before God. I think both Calvinists and non-Calvinists would agree.

    By Blogger Missy, at 1/18/2008 7:53 PM  

  • Rose,

    I have not frequented here much. But I always find good thoughtful questions and Christlike responses from you and most of your blog commenters.

    To your question, it seems that those who see merit in faith/belief/trust misunderstand the biblical use of the words. If we emphasize that we are saved by grace through faith, which emphasizes that our forgiveness is rooted in God’s grace; no human merit is involved. This is true for someone who believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life.

    The reformed result of showing that human faith is meritorious is not in accord with the very concept of Grace.

    There is no coexistence between grace and 3 things:
    1. Any recognition of human obligation to attain Gods grace cannot coexist with grace. God must be free to exercise grace without the slightest limitations because of human sin. Man must be helped to see the "light" of the Gospel. See John 1:4-13. Grace would not be grace if the benefits were withheld because of human sin.
    2. There cannot be any recognition of human merit because grace cannot remain grace if by its benefits if there is created or imposed an obligation for repayment – grace is a gift. See Romans 6:23
    3. There cannot be any recognition of human merit – Ephesians 2:8-10

    These truths left me asking the same question about human merit. So how is God's grace accomplished? Here's my "current" understanding (I try always to be open and teachable with the scriptures):

    The theological term is effectual or special grace. It is said that it is the work of the Holy Spirit which effectively moves men and women to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. This definition has 6 ramifications:
    1. It (God's Grace) is effective, it will always accomplish its goal.
    2. It can not be resisted but it doesn’t exclude the human responsibility or requirement of/to believe(ing).
    3. It is a act of the Holy Spirit which moves men and women to believe (by removing the Satanic blindness in 2 Corinthians 4:4) so that no man or woman is saved against his will. Now special grace is what causes salvation to come to a man or a woman. But the work of the Holy Spirit in special grace is to work on his or her will to make him or her "willing" to believe such that no one is saved against his or her will.
    4. Grace works apart from the human will or volition, but generates effectively upon that will or volition so that it moves it without forcing it. That is the balance; the biblical balance between Gods Sovereignty and human will or volition.
    5. Is an instantaneous event at the moment of belief. Regeneration occurs at the point of persuasion that the gospel is true.
    6. It is preceded by common grace, man experiences common grace before effectual or special grace.

    Only in this way do I believe that we can say that there is no human merit and still keep the volitional side of the argument alive.



    By Blogger Jim, at 1/18/2008 8:08 PM  

  • Rose,

    How can I merit getting a quote in your "Quotes I Like" section??

    By Anonymous Quote Wannabe, at 1/18/2008 9:28 PM  

  • Hi Kris,
    Thanks for your comment. I am fine, thank you - except my family has been sick with one thing after another and it is getting very tiring. But thanks for asking. :~)
    Your thoughts on "human merit" are interesting - I had not thought of it in that way. Yes, Christ was human and He merited salvation. Good!

    Hi Jon,
    You and I see it the same way - we have a volitional part to paly here, but believing is not meritorious.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/21/2008 10:06 AM  

  • Hi Kurt!!
    Yes, it is strange. The Bible does teach that the HS lights the world to these truths through the Word of God. Believing them is not meritorious.

    Thanks for visiting! :~)
    Looking forward to that first post of yours.

    Hi Missy,
    What a perfect comment! So precise and so true! That is what we are talking about when we say human merit. I think the other way (that I mention in my post) is confusing categories or something erroneous like that. Maybe a logic buff can tell us.

    Hi! Thanks for your comment. Have I seen you comment on other blogs? There are a couple of Jims floating around and I am curious which one you are.

    Your thoughts are really interesting. I have to read them through again to make sure I grasp what you are saying. Thanks for participating. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/21/2008 10:14 AM  

  • Quote Wannabe,
    You are a funny man!!! :~) My face is now healed too. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/21/2008 10:15 AM  

  • Rose,

    Human merit for Paul was anything which one might rely upon for eternal life and justification that isn't Jesus Christ alone.

    Eternal life and the righteousness of God is attained only by means of faith, so that it can be by grace, and so that the promise can be sure.

    Righteousness is granted to faith!


    By Blogger Antonio, at 1/21/2008 7:56 PM  

  • Antonio,
    I agree! God bless.
    You got your old avatar back.
    I do love that book.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/22/2008 11:20 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    My blog and website are pretty easy to remember:


    Jim Johnson
    Highlands Ranch, CO

    By Blogger Jim, at 1/23/2008 12:41 AM  

  • Along the line Antonio brings up - I would say human merit is that which could be done to be recompensed with eternal life, which is nothing. Eternal life is a gift, given by God, received by those who believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Therefore, one who believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God yet has the misunderstanding that something in addition might merit salvation - is wrong yet their misunderstanding cannot negate the irrevocable life God has given them and they have received through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at 1/23/2008 9:44 AM  

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