"I appreciate your bringing these verses to our attention, Eric," his teacher responded. "These texts speak of a reward, but a reward of grace, not of merit.
"A reward of merit is a payment for something I have earned, that I deserve. When a person performs good works. this is not the case, however.
"The only reason a person can perform a good work is because God planted spiritual life in him by grace and graciously maintains and strengthens his new nature in sanctification. Therefore the ability, desire, and strengthening to perform a good work is all from God's grace. In addition, God is not required to reward a person's good work; therefore when He does so, this, too, is grace.
"To explain your texts, then, Eric. Yes, there is a reward for doing good works, but it is a gracious reward. God is graciously rewarding (because He is not obliged to) that which He has graciously worked in the person (His regenerating and sanctifying work)."
Why is a reward of merit impossible for fallen man to earn? Why can a reward of grace be man's only hope?
Father's birthday is approaching. Everyone in the family is going shopping to purchase a gift for him. He gives two dollars to his four-year-old daughter, so she, too, can buy him something.
After all the presents are opened, Father thanks everyone for the gifts given to him, also his youngest daughter. "Thank you very much, Sally, for the nice present you bought me," he tells her as he picks her up and gives her a warm hug.
When God's children return "gifts of good works" unto God, why is His rewarding them a reward of grace, not of merit?
When, by grace, the believer may walk the way of sanctification, then good works of love to God and others, and the fruits of the Spirit's work - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5 :22-23), all evidence themselves in the person's life.
Why is Sally's reward a reward of grace, not of merit? Why is the believer's reward for his works a reward of grace, and not of merit?