I am by training and profession a statistician, so relationships intrigue me. One of the key measures in statistics is correlation. Either with numbers or just in our minds, most humans try to find relationships between things.
One of the things that a correlation measure can’t do is indicate causality. For example, we know that in the early ages of life, there is a correlation between age and height. The correlation, however, does not tell us what the causality is or if there is any causality at all. Do we grow taller as we age, or do we age as we grow taller? Or are both caused by something else?
Well, for this example common sense tells us that the growth is attributed to aging more than aging is caused by growth, so we have some logical idea of causality.
Now, let’s look at the correlational relationship between deeds and grace. Paul tells us clearly that we are saved by grace, not by our deeds. Yet some people have this totally turned around. Let’s take for example Don Corleone, The God Father. Overall his deeds, according to the books and movies, were pretty dastardly. But he tried to make up for it via other deeds, like donations to the church. Perhaps the good Don thought that these good deeds would outbalance the bad and earn him a bit of God’s grace. He had the causality arrow of correlation pointed the wrong way. Many do exactly that, try to play catch-up via deeds. According to the Bible, that probably won’t work out so well in the long term, the very long term!
But on the other hand if we are saved by the gift of grace why would there be any correlation between grace and good deeds? If we’re saved by grace, why mess with good deeds?
This is where causality comes in. When we truly and fully accept Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts. We are changed. Good deeds are not an obligation, a “have to” to earn respect or anything else. We preform good deeds simply for their own merit. They are “caused” by the Spirit operating within us, BECAUSE we have been given grace.
Correlationally speaking, deeds -> grace is an illusion. Grace -> good deeds is truth.
See, there is value in statistics!
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