Summary: A sermon based loosely on Luke 17:7-10 on extra credit, extra merit, going above and beyond the call of duty, to earn our salvation (Outline and material adapted from Dr. Jack Cottrell)
Extra credit is an academic concept, particularly used in American schools. Students are offered the opportunity to undertake extra work in addition to their mandatory school work. Many times extra credit can be used as a way to allow a student to improve his or her grade after weak performance earlier in a course. Does God allow extra credit?
A. Many assume that if we do something wrong, we can do something right to make up for it.
B. In many religions this concept is the key to salvation from sin.
1. This is the “balance scale” approach to salvation.
It assumes that there is such a thing as EXTRA MERIT or extra credit – that extra good deeds can make up for sin.
Under such a system the assumption is that it is actually possible for anyone to go “above and beyond the call of duty”. By doing more than we have to, we are earning extra credit that can atone for our sins.
Illustrate this: As creatures made by God we each have a “bank account” in heaven, in which we are required at all times to keep a certain level of good works, merits or credits. We can keep our account at the required level by obeying all the commands of the Creator. Every time we obey a command, we are making regular, required deposits into our account. However, every time we sin, our account falls below the required level; our account is “in arrears,” and we are subject to serious penalty. What can we do? Extra credits or merits to the rescue! The idea here is that by doing some good work that is not our duty or obligation to do, we are making extra deposits into our account. This enables us to catch up or make up for the losses from our sins, so that our balance is acceptable again.
3. This would mean that in serving God we can actually go “above and beyond the call of duty.”
Thesis: Let’s talk about extra credit from the Bible.
I. Jesus teaches that there is no such thing as extra credits. As already read in Luke 17:7-10. As the NKJV translates v. 10, “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
What is Jesus teaching here?
A. As God’s creatures we already owe God every good deed, every act of obedience that we can possibly do. This is our DEBT to the Creator. James 4:17: Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
B. A Perfect life is our DUTY. Matthew 5:48: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
C. Even if we were living a perfect life, we would have no “profit,” nothing EXTRA.
D. What is the main implication of this teaching? We CAN NEVER DO SOMETHING EXTRA TO MAKE UP FOR our SINS.
E. Why not? Because every good thing we can possible do is already required of us. This is the debt of obedience that we owe to God.
F. When we do NOT do some good thing that we are supposed to do, i.e., when we SIN, this is like getting behind in the payment of our debt of obedience. This now becomes the debt of sin.
G. Once we get behind, we can never catch up. Why not? Because we will never have any EXTRA works (works not already owed to God) to apply to our sin-debt.
Every good thing we can do is already owed to God as our creature-debt. We cannot use what is required to pay one debt, to pay off another debt.
Here’s an illustration: Think of a young man (named Davon?) who has fallen head over heels for a beautiful young woman (named Crystal?). He is thoroughly smiten. He asks the young lady to marry him. She wants to marry him too, but she knows how desperate he is and decides to take advantage of the situation. Thus she prepares a prenuptial agreement in which the young man agrees to assign every possession he now owns and every possession he will ever own to his bride. Every penny he will ever earn, inherit, find, receive as a gift will automatically become hers. He readily agrees and signs the papers. All goes well for a while, until one day the young wife confronts her husband. “I have discovered that for the last two years, you have secretly been holding back two dollars per week just so you can buy an occasional donut. Let’s see, two dollars per week for 104 weeks, that means you owe me $208!” The young man goes into a panic. “Please, please! I’m sorry! I don’t know what came over me! Don’t do anything drastic. I will pay you back!” Now, here is where the wife proves to be quite a bit sharper than her husband. When he utters this promise, “I will pay it all back”, she just looks at him and asks, “What with?” In shock he now sees the horrible truth: he will never have any money with which to pay her back, because everything he will ever own already belongs to her! He will owe her this $208 forever.