If He Is Pleased To Give Them A Reward

The Work of the Holy Spirit I thought this was a decent illustration on the topic of grace, sanctification, good works, and reward.

“An awkward schoolboy has to make a speech before a strange audience. It is a difficult task, and he does not even know how to begin. All his own efforts are useless. Then his father calls him and says: ‘If you commit this little speech which I have prepared, and recite it without missing a word, it will be a success.’ And the boy obeys. There is nothing of himself — it is all his father’s work; he merely believes that what his father has prepared for him is good. And in this confidence he goes before the strange audience, delivers his father’s composition, and succeeds. However, the writing of the speech did not end the matter, and it could not be ended until the boy had done his part. When God has prepared the good work for us, the matter is not ended until we do what God has prepared for us.”

“Coming home the boy does not proudly ask a reward, but with gratitude he embraces his father for his love and faithfulness. Having obtained success, God’s children are profoundly thankful for their Father’s excellent help; and they acknowledge that they owe it all to Him. And if He is pleased to give them a reward, it is not because they have deserved it; for if it were a question of desert, the children would have to give everything to the Father! But it is merely a reward of love for the future support of their faith.”

Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1900), 501.

shane lems

3 Replies to “If He Is Pleased To Give Them A Reward”

  1. Berkhof said sanctification is a synergism (he used the word cooperation) which I thought this illustration conveyed. Berkhof was my first exposure to the ref’d faith and I love him, but if sanctification is of grace as the Westminster standards say, then it cannot possibly be a synergism. If it is of grace, it is by faith apart from the law and as such, monergistic. I think Calvin’s duplex gratia Dei unravels the mystery for us – the Gospel contains the promise of justifying and sanctifying grace. That is also the message of Gal. As Augustine said, God crowns his grace with further grace.


    1. Dante: thanks for the note. I’ve read a few different solid theologians on this point, and sometimes I think it is semantics or a matter of defining terms. So the confessions can say that God graciously works in us and sanctifies us by his Spirit, but we should also be “diligent” and “never stop striving” to grow in grace/obedience. Jerry Bridges’ term is “dependent responsibility:” we are completely dependent upon God and his Spirit for growth, but we are responsible to fight sin and do what is right (he defines it a bit better, but that’s a summary).
      Make sense?


      1. Yes, diligence, discipline… Titus 2 features discipline as a central virtue in godliness (and that is in the very ch. that ascribes godliness to grace, vv.11-14 as does the following ch., 3:4-7). And self-discipline in particular is something that I think can really go astray and become reliant on the flesh. But discipline as necessary in sanctification, absolutely – Scripture calls for it. I would only say that by these very imperatives (which I would call something like new covenant ethics and not “the law” which is always Mosaic and which we are not under), God mediates grace and brings about their fulfillment in us through our faith. So God grants what God commands. It is wonderfully mysterious and it is always through faith. As at conversion, *I* believed yet it was by grace (Acts 18:27); *I* repented yet it was only because God was pouring at grace upon me (Acts 11:18). God bless as always


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