The Cross is Not Proof of Our Worth But of God’s Grace

by Mike Ratliff

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Luke 18:13 ESV)

In our day it is not unusual to hear a man-centered version of the Gospel message that has everything turned around backward and is presented in such a way that is meant to appeal emotionally to unbelievers with a statement such as, “Christ’s crucifixion is proof of our worth to God!” The appeal is meant to show that if Christ was willing to go to Cross to save sinners like us then that proves we are of value to God. I have even heard one version of this that says that Jesus would have gone to that Cross even if it was for just one unrepentant sinner. Is that found anywhere in God’s Word? I have never found it. Instead, what I see clearly presented there is that all of us are undeserving sinners and even dead (Ephesians 2:1-3). Until God regenerated us, we are spiritual corpses, that is, without spiritual life. Therefore, grace that is not all grace is no grace. Grace that saves means that God has done everything; if He does not do everything, then it is not grace. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NA27)

For by grace you have saved through faith. And this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift; not of works, lest anyone should boast. (my personal translation of Ephesians 2:8-9 from the NA27 Greek text.)

The phrase, “And this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift,” translates, ”καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·” Many want to debate that this is God’s gift and part of it is not. Some want the grace and the salvation to come from God, but the faith to come from us. Let’s look at this passage with that reasoning part of the mind God gave us my brethren. In the first part of v8 Paul sums it up by saying that we are saved (σώζω) by grace (χάρις) through faith (πίστις). No one argues that. Would Paul then repeat the same thing by saying “grace is a gift of God,” or “salvation is a gift of God”? We don’t do that in English or any other language so why would Paul do that? Therefore, he is also making the point that faith is a gift (δῶρον) of God as well.

Paul tells us here that God makes our salvation a gift and not of a works whereby we do something to earn it so that no one may boast. God gets all the glory through the salvation of those whom He saves.

Now think back to the those horrible sermons we talked about earlier that try to manipulate people to make a decision for Christ using emotion and trying to show how important we are to God, et cetera. No my brethren, no one believes the Gospel and is saved or even responds to it until God gives them the power, the gift of faith, to believe.

This faith must be from God, for if we say that faith is of ourselves, then faith becomes a human work, as in partaking of a sacrament or just “being a good person.” Faith does not determine salvation; grace determines salvation. God has done it all. John MacArthur has said, “When we accept the finished work of Christ on our behalf, we act by the faith supplied by God’s grace.” Our faith comes as a gift from God’s grace.

Soli Deo Gloira!







18 thoughts on “The Cross is Not Proof of Our Worth But of God’s Grace

  1. Amen, brother! That saying about Christ would have died for just one sinner makes it sound like God is inept to do any great work of salvation if only one person would come to the cross. This is a mere by-product of the man-centered gospel as you said. It is this same line of thinking that if carried to its logical conclusion it would have been possible for Christ to have died totally in vain if no one came to the cross. BUT thank God for His grace that because no one COULD come to the cross, He bestowed mercy upon His sheep to save them from their sin and the wrath to come , and He fore-ordained this to happen before the foundation of the world. Soli Deo Gloria indeed!!


  2. Mike, I have heard the same type of man centered so-called gospel presentation:
    “For God so loved you that he would rather die than be without you.”
    Man is placed in a higher position and God is needful of man in this false gospel.


  3. When you place “value” upon the object of God’s redemptive love, you diminish God’s redemptive love and have applied “reason” to the cross. This philosophy (not theology) is spawned from the self esteem teaching and in fact is antichrist. The ears of the flesh cannot hear Paul when he cliams no good things abides within him.

    We were sinners, enemies, and dead in tresspasses and sins. It was not our worth that drew salvation’s plan; it was God’s unsearchable glory. Man continues to explore ways to glorify himself. But in the end, all true believers will bow in heaven before Him whose very being is the beginning and the end of all “value”. Even the word “value” indicates some form of measurement. God cannot be measured and His glory is infinite, eternal, and in the very moment that Christ breathed His last breath, God’s glory was not only not in jeapordy, but it shined with a brilliance that can only be understood through the Spirit.

    Instead of receiving God’s unspeakable gift with brokenness and worship, man continues to construct his own redemption which has man penciled in as a major contributor. But even this great apostasy will one day be woven in to God’s prophetic plan and will redound to His everlasting glory.

    “And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”


  4. Amen! This morning I saw a Dutch flyer with the ‘gospel’, butit was not the real gospel. It was the gospel you write about: “Christ’s crucifixion is proof of our worth to God!”. It is man-centered.

    I was not surprised because the church that wrote the flyer is a Word of Faith/prosperity church, influenced by Joseph Prince from Singapore.

    It is so sad to see the false gospel being presented as the real gospel.

    Last sunday I was allowed to speak about the deceiving gospels and I could warn the church for this false gospel that is spreading so fast.

    We have to go back to the Word of God, back to the true gospel, the gospel that is Christ-centered.


  5. The fact that He reveals Himself to me, a spiritually dead individual, who has no idea he even needs a Savior, and convicts me unto repentance for the sins I think are no sin, then lifts me up to believe in Him, when I only prior believed in myself and my ability…what was it I did? Nothing it is all and always His work! Amen brother.
    The easier, broader road reminds me of a movie I once saw where Burt Reynolds realized he was going to drown, so he cries out to God to “save him” that is to restore his former best life. As he realizes he isn’t going to drown immediately,his salvation request continues to be modified till he realizes he may have had a hand in saving himself, then he dismisses God, and his prior request…a perfect picture, from a worldly film of a man centered salvation!


  6. Amen Mickey! Yes, I think I remember that one and you are right. If you listen to guys like Rob Bell, they have the same concept as well. There is no understanding of the Justice of God in light of the sinfulness of man and how God pouring out His wrath is totally justified in light of His holiness and our total lack thereof. No, there concept is that salvation is “our right.” Well, not really and that is found no where in Scripture.


  7. The arrogance of man never ceases to amaze me.
    You are correct, there are many in the doctrines of grace movement that believe (and practice) that they were supernaturally moved by God to seek Him, but after that they keep themselves.
    You cannot have it both ways!

    It is all HIM.
    I am totally incapable of drawing, saving or keeping myself!


  8. Mike-

    I agree largely with what you are saying here, but I feel that you are stretching the Greek to reach your point. The TOUTO as a neuter, and not feminine, demonstrative refers to the idea in its entirety and not to the specific feminine antecedents of CHARITI and PISTEWS. It would be a stretch then to claim the faith as a gift extra the saving. Which is only to reiterate that TOUTO can’t refer to PISTEWS but must refer to phrase en totum: either TH GAR CHARITI ESTE SESWSMENOI DIA PISTEWS or at least SESWSMENOI DIA PISTEWS.

    Propter Sanguinem Agni,


  9. Robert, with all due respect, your argument has been proven by both Dr. James White and Dr J.D. Watson, very good Greek scholars, to be what is a stretch. This is an old argument and the gender of “this” in relation to grace and faith and salvation has long been proven to be irrelevant. In their well educated opinion the fact that it is neuter actually enforces how we have rendered this passage. Have a blessed day.


  10. Mike-

    I am still quite green in Greek, so I would appreciate it if you could point me somewhere that I could see the particular arguments on the use of TOUTO in this verse. I subscribe to B-Greek ( a collection of Greek scholars, if you are unfamiliar, and they don’t seem to share your perspective: that the matter is closed.

    Propter Sanguinem Agni,


  11. Rick Frueh…you always have good things to say but this post was outstanding…an excerpt…
    “Instead of receiving God’s unspeakable gift with brokenness and worship, man continues to construct his own redemption which has man penciled in as a major contributor. But even this great apostasy will one day be woven in to God’s prophetic plan and will redound to His everlasting glory.”

    while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…


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