In John Piper’s second edition of Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist he shares this story:
Supposing I come home to my wife on our wedding anniversary with a big bunch of red roses. When she opens the door flinging her arms around me and thanks me for the gift, I could make one of two responses . If I say to her, ‘I had to buy these for you – it is my duty. At Wedding Anniversaries these are the things husbands are supposed to do’ she would probably not be very impressed! If however, I respond by saying ‘Darling I love you, and it gives me great pleasure to give you flowers’ she will not turn to me and say: ‘How selfish you are talking about YOUR pleasure’. But rather will respond positively seeing that the pleasure I gain from giving her flowers dignifies both the act and the action!
Piper gives a challenging and liberating message that God wants us to serve him, not out of obligation but out of joy and passion. I hope this might explain why Evangelicals are so enamored with the idea of salvation by grace alone.
In our teaching, a man’s works can not bring him salvation. Only the perfect sacrifice of Christ is enough. No amount of work will add or subtract to what is already perfectly given. Since our works are meaningless toward our salvation there must be some other reason we perform them. It can be out of obligation and duty or it can be out of love and passion for the God’s Kingdom.
Merely doing good works out of duty doesn’t express gratitude to God the same way doing them out of love does. Since we aren’t earning our salvation, we can be confident that leaving something out will not affect our eternal status. We don’t have a check-list to fulfill on our road to heaven. This gives us great freedom to serve out of our own gifts and passions. We serve out of joy and delight. With gratitude we build God’s kingdom because of the what it has done for us. Never are our works an effort to prove we deserve God’s love, instead they are an effort to prove that we love God.
I hope this helps explain why we lhold the idea of salvation by grace alone so dearly.