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Kent Hughes told an old Middle Eastern story that shows the futility of salvation by works. A man was traveling on his donkey when he came upon a small fuzzy object lying in the road. He dismounted to look more closely and found a sparrow lying on its back with its scrawny legs thrust skyward. At first he thought the bird was dead, but close investigation proved it to be very much alive. The man asked the sparrow if he was all right. The sparrow replied, “Yes.” The man said, “What are you doing lying on your back with your legs pointed toward the sky?” The sparrow responded that he had heard a rumor that the sky was falling. The man replied, “You surely don’t think you’re going to hold the sky up with those two scrawny legs, do you?” The sparrow replied, “One does the best he can.” The little bird’s futile works were obvious. In the same way man’s condition is so desperate that his works are no more effective than a bird’s legs in the air trying to hold up the sky. No one will ever be saved by works.

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