Isn’t It Good Enough For God That I Try To Be Good?

       Years ago, after a series of meetings had finished, the famous 19th century evangelist Billy Sunday was helping some workmen take down the tent in which he had earlier conducted a series of evangelistic services.  Suddenly a young man who had been in attendance the night before came up to Sunday and asked him earnestly, “What must I do to be saved?”   The evangelist replied, “You’re too late,” and kept on working.   “Please don’t say that,” exclaimed the young man, “I want salvation; I would do anything…go anywhere to find it.”    “I can’t help it,” Sunday replied.  “You’re too late; for your salvation was completed many years ago by Jesus Christ, and it’s a finished work.  You can’t do anything to merit salvation…..just believe in what Jesus has already done for you.  It God’s free gift to you, through faith.”   Billy Sunday’s answer is as true (and Biblical) today as it was then.  You can’t purchase your salvation, or secure it through sincerity or work for it as though it’s a commodity you can earn by being good or doing enough good things.   Through His perfect life, sacrificial death, and bodily resurrection Jesus has already done (and won, and bought and paid for) it all for all of us.  Salvation is a free gift from God for Jesus’ sake, through faith in Him.

       As we continue our early summer sermon/service series today  on “Questions God’s People (and others) Ask,” we’ll be examining God’s Word in order to answer a question which is often asked by many people today….and which is usually answered incorrectly:   “Isn’t It Good Enough For God  That I Try To Be Good?”   

            While many want to answer that Question with a “Yes,” in His Word God gives us the unequivocal answer “No.”  As we’ll see in our Scripture lessons God graciously directs us away from the false security of a “fantasy salvation” based on good works (which can never be done well enough), to the real security of a certain salvation which is God’s free gift to us — apart from good works — solely through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. 

            In our First Lesson  the apostle Paul rebukes the Galatian church for drifting from the central truth of the Gospel (salvation by grace through faith alone) and leaning instead toward a false Gospel that taught a salvation by works and ritual…a false Gospel that could cost them their place in heaven. 

            In our Epistle Lesson for today, the evangelist James talks about the importance of

good works in the believer’s life…..not as a condition for salvation, but as a consequence (or the fruit/evidence of) already being saved.    Believers will put their faith into action (and so “to work”) as a grateful response to God for His gifts of forgiveness and salvation to us. 

            Today’s Gospel Lesson is the familiar account of the Pharisee and the Publican.   The former trusted in his works, certain that God would be pleased with him based on his legalistic performance;   how mistaken he was!   The latter humbled himself before the Lord and simply begged for mercy from God to cover up his sins.   Jesus finishes the parable by pointing out that  the Publican (tax collector), who trusted in God’s mercy and not in his own merits, was the one who went home justified. 

            Our Children’s Lesson will focus on how our salvation is “free” for us because Jesus paid the price in full for us.  

            Finally, our Sermon, based on Ephesians 2:8-9,  will tie together the truths of our Scripture lessons as we ask and answer the question (with a “No”):  “Isn’t It Good Enough For God  That I Try To Be Good?



Prayer Upon Entering Church  –  Heavenly Father, You showed Your grace by bringing me to faith in Christ through the work of Your Holy Spirit, and then by giving me the blessing of being called Your child.  Though what I offer You today is so small, compared to all You have done for me, please accept my humble offerings of praise and thanksgiving, as well as my gifts.  Also, Lord, help me gladly hear and take to heart the Good News of salvation from sin for me and all people through faith in Your Son, my Savior.  Renew and invigorate me with Your Holy Spirit today and every day, that I might live a confident life of faith and love to Your glory,  and that I might share, by all possible means, at every opportunity, the same Good News of salvation through Christ which has filled my life with peace and purpose.  Amen.



Scripture quotations in this worship flyer, unless otherwise noted,  are taken from the EVANGELICAL HERITAGE VERSION of the Bible.  Copyright 2019

 by the Warburg Project.   All rights reserved



Pre-service prayer

Pre-worship music                                                                                                                                       


Let Us Praise The Lord


Welcoming and Introduction to Today’s Worship   (Pastor)


after which, at the Pastor’s invitation, the Congregation will rise for


The Invocation


Pastor     We begin this service in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the

                       Holy Spirit   Amen.



The Opening Prayer                                                                                                              (in Unison)


O Lord,    our Maker,    Redeemer,    and Comforter,   +   we are assembled in Your presence  to hear Your Word   +    and to offer You our praise and worship.      +    We pray that You would open our hearts    +   by means of Your Holy Spirit    +    so that through the preaching of Your Word   +   we may be taught to repent of our sins,    +   to believe on Jesus in life and in death,    +    and to grow day by day in grace and godliness.    +   Hear us now, for Jesus’s sake.    +   Amen.



after which the Congregation may be seated for


The Opening Hymn                                                             “Lord Jesus Christ, Be Present Now”


1 Lord Jesus Christ, be present now,   our hearts in true devotion bow,

Your Spirit send with grace divine,   and let Your truth within us shine.


2 Unseal our lips to sing Your praise,   our souls to You in worship raise,

make strong our faith, increase our light,    that we may know Your name aright.


3 Until we join the hosts that cry,   “Holy are You, O Lord Most High!”

And in the light of that blest place   fore’er behold You face to face.


4 Glory to God the Father, Son,   and Holy Spirit, Three in One!

To You, O blessed Trinity,   be praise throughout eternity!    Amen.


After which the Congregation will rise as



We Confess Our Sins to the Lord


     Pastor –   The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.                   


     Congregation           And also with you.


     Pastor –   God invites us to come into His presence and worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness.


Almighty God, Heavenly Father, we have violated Your holy will through our                  

sinful actions, in our failure to do what You righteously expect from us, with our wicked words, and by our evil thoughts and desires.



  • We come, O Lord, to Your altar to confess our sins. +   We beg for Your mercy, + though we do not deserve it.   +   Hear our prayer.    +  Grant us the forgiveness of all our sins, for Jesus’ sake.


Just as I am without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me,

And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,  O Lamb of God, I come, I come.



  • Our sins are many….inexcusable, yet inevitable given our weakness and dullness. We have sworn falsely and used Your name to curse, rather than to bless others and to praise You.   We have not worshiped You as faithfully as we ought.  We have not listened to Your Word as we should.  Too often we have conformed our lives – not to Your perfect will – but to the norms and dictates of this sinful world.    At times we have lived as though we were “god” instead of humbly submitting everything that we are and have to You, O Lord.


Just as I am, though tossed about  With many a conflict, many a doubt,

Fightings and fears within, without,  O Lamb of God, I come, I come.




  • We have acted spitefully toward friends and strangers. We have fought with our family.  We have been impatient with each other, and even with You, O Lord.  We have sought superiority over others at work, in the home, at school, and in the church.   We have preferred materialism more than we have pursued our spiritual growth.   We have committed the very evils that we have self-righteously – and You have properly – condemned.


Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind,

Yea, all I need, in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.




  • We have passed by and ignored those who have been in genuine need. We have thought too highly of ourselves and too little of others.      Though converted by the Gospel’s power, we have been reluctant and indifferent to bring the Good News to others.    We have not readily forgiven those who have sinned against us.    We have not loved You and others as You have commanded us to do.




  • Forgive us all our sins, +  those known and unknown to us,   + according to the mercy of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.     +   Pour Your grace upon us, +    that we might know the peace which surpasses all understanding, + and that we might share eternal life with Christ, our Lord.


Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,   Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe,    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


     Congregation          Almighty and most merciful God,   +   We acknowledge and confess   +    that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed;    +    That we have

not loved You with all our heart and soul,   +   and with all our mind and strength;   +    and that we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.   +   We ask You, O God, + to be forgiving of what we have been,   + to help us to amend what we are,   +   and – in Your mercy – to direct what we shall be,   +   so that the love of what is righteous in Your sight   +    might always be in our hearts,   +     that we may always walk blamelessly in Your commandments,   +   and faithfully follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ to the very end.   +   Amen.  


     Pastor                        Upon this, your voluntary confession, and in accordance with the responsibilities entrusted to me as a called and ordained servant of the

Living  Word, I assure you that God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven you all your sins.   By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt and condemnation forever.   You are His own dear child –  an heir of everlasting life through faith in Christ.   May God now give you the strength of faith to live according to His will.   Go in His grace and peace.   Amen.



Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us


     Pastor            For all that we need in life, Lord God, hear our prayer.   We pray for the wisdom to use everything You have made with God-pleasing responsibility, gratitude and joy:


     Congregation          Lord, have mercy upon us!


     Pastor            We pray for the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from Your love:


     Congregation          Christ, have mercy upon us!


     Pastor            We pray for the courage to stand firm against the assaults of Satan and every evil:


     Congregation          Lord, have mercy upon us, as we place our trust in You.


     Pastor            Merciful God, Maker and Preserver of life, uphold us by Your power and keep us always in Your gracious care.


     Congregation                      Amen.


After which the Congregation will be seated



Feed Us, Lord


The First Lesson                                                                                                       Galatians 3:1-14


O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I just want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?


3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now trying to reach the goal by the flesh? 4 Did you experience so many things for nothing, if it were indeed for nothing? 5 So then, does the One Who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the law? Or does He do it by your believing what you hear— 6 in the same way as Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”?

7 Understand, then, that those who believe are the children of Abraham. 8 Foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, Scripture proclaimed the Gospel in advance to Abraham, saying, “In you, all nations will be blessed.” 9 So then, those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.


     10 In fact, those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written,            

“Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law.” 11 Clearly no one is declared righteous before God by the law, because “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law does not say “by faith.” Instead it says, “The one who does these things will live by them.”


13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. As it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that we would receive the promised Spirit through faith.



            The Epistle Lesson                                                                                                James 2:14-26


14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but has no works? Such “faith” cannot save him, can it? 15 If a brother or sister needs clothes and lacks daily food 16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but does not give them what their body needs, what good is it? 17 So also, such “faith,” if it is alone and has no works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works.


19 You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that—and shudder! 20 But do you want proof, you mindless person, that such “faith” without works is dead?  21 Wasn’t Abraham our father shown to be righteous by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by his works his faith was shown to be complete. 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” He was also called God’s friend.  24 You see that a person is shown to be righteous by works and not by faith alone.


25 In the same way also, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous by works when she welcomed the spies and sent them out another way? 26 For just as the body without breath is dead, so also faith without works is dead.


after which, the Congregation will rise for



The Gospel Lesson                                                                                                  Luke 18:9-14


9 Jesus told this parable to certain people who trusted in themselves (that they were righteous) and looked down on others: 10 “Two men went up to the temple courts to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of all my income.’


13 “However the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even lift his eyes up to heaven, but was beating his chest and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’


14 “I tell you, this man went home justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”



     The Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.   And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;  Born of the virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;  Was crucified, dead, and buried;  He descended into hell;  The third day He rose again from the dead;  He ascended into heaven;  And sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;  The resurrection of the body;  And the life everlasting.  Amen.



After which the Congregation will be seated


            The Children’s Lesson                                                                                     Romans 3:23-24


All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 24 and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,


“It’s Free for Us…..Because Jesus Paid the Price”



            The Sermon Hymn                                              “Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice”



Dear Christians, one and all, rejoice,   With exultation springing,

And with united heart and voice   And holy rapture singing,

Proclaim the wonders God has done,   How His right arm the vict’ry won,

How dearly it has cost Him!  


My own good works availed me naught,   No merit they attaining;

My will against God’s judgment fought,   No hope for me remaining.

My fears increased till sheer despair   Left naught but death to be my share;

And hell to be my sentence.


God spoke to His beloved Son:   “Tis time to have compassion.

Then go, bright Jewel of My crown,   And bring mankind salvation.

From sin and sorrow set them free;   Slay bitter death for them that they

May live with You forever.”


The Son obeyed His Father’s will,   Was born of virgin mother;

And God’s good pleasure to fulfill,   He came to be my brother.

No garb of pomp, or pow’r He wore;   A servant’s form, like mine, He bore

To lead the devil captive.


“What I on earth have lived and taught   Be all your life and teaching;

So shall the kingdom’s work be wrought   And honored in your preaching.

Take care that no one’s man-made laws   Should e’er destroy the Gospel’s cause.

This final word I leave you.”    Amen.


after which the Congregation will remain seated for


     The Pre-Sermon Greeting


Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer!   Amen.



            Sermon Text                                                                                                        Ephesians 2:8-9


8 Indeed, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.


Isn’t My Being Good, Good Enough for God?



The Post-Sermon Blessing


May the God of peace, Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, now equip you with everything good for doing His will!  Amen.



Lord, Receive our Offerings and Prayers


Because we aren’t able to pass an offering plate today during today’s worship

service those in attendance may leave their offerings in the offering plates

by the exit door at the close of our service today.

For those watching today’s service, we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:  

1) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to the church address

(415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) You can go online to our website (

and use the giving option there.



The Prayers of the Church                   


Lord God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier:   We humbly come before Your throne of grace,   + asking for Your blessings upon the Church at large,  our congregation,  and each one of us.  Fill us with thankful hearts for every gift, opportunity, and challenge that You provide.  


Merciful God, though we do not deserve them,   continue to grant us our daily bread  and all of our other needs of body and spirit.     Instill in us, as Your people, a genuine hunger and thirst for Your righteousness.   Allow us to continue to properly read, learn, and inwardly digest Your holy, true and mighty Word –  that our hearts and minds might remain firmly focused on You  as the true God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit –    and that we might be eternally sustained   in this one, true, saving Christian faith.


Grant us all a strong faith especially in those times when we face temptation and doubt, so that we might trust in You with unwavering confidence.    Guard us from the wiles of the Devil,   the ways of this wicked world,  and our own sinful nature.    Preserve us from all forms of selfish love and sinful ambition.   


We pray also for every nation and their respective residents.    Particularly do we seek Your mercy for people in our country, who are struggling with the effects and losses associated with the Corna virus pandemic.  Calm also the social distress that seems to be escalating across our country, that the rule of law and good order might be re-established here and that our citizens might be protected from all harm and danger.


For all those in harm’s way  –  especially those serving in our military and in our country’s law-enforcement agencies  –   Almighty God we pray that You would continue to send Your protective angels   +    to guard both the defenseless and those who defend others.    Enable them to fix their eyes and hearts on You, Lord,     trusting in You day by day  for healing, relief, strength, and hope.


Continue to comfort and support all those who are sick:   those who suffer chronic disease or pain, each shut-in, and all those in nursing homes or hospitals.   Particularly do we pray for brother Bill Krizsan, as he continues to recover from a recent operation and as he anticipates chemotherapy treatments for bladder cancer.   And, according to Your will, bless Bill with better health, with a cure from his cancer, and with the strength to recover from this latest health challenge in his life….. according to Your good and gracious will. 


Thank you also, Lord, for allowing Cynthia and Duane Pansegrau (Monday)   and George and Laura Layton (Friday), to celebrate their wedding anniversaries this week.   We praise you for the love for each other their fills their hearts and homes, inspired by Your greater love for them (and us) in Christ.   Thank You for the examples of marital love and faithfulness to each other, and to You, that they live before us.    Continue to bless them with health and happiness now and for years to come, until You grant them the blessing we all look forward to…..the blessing of being part of Your family of redeemed souls in heaven.


Also gracious God bless our Grace Lutheran Academy and Pre-school as we begin a new school year this coming Wednesday.   Provide peace, joy and harmony among our students, parents and staff this year.    Allow both their general instruction and especially the education our students receive in Your Word to grow their minds, hearts and faith.   Use the challenges that we will inevitably face to bring us closer together and particularly closer to You for guidance and success.   Bring us more students and families to serve in the weeks and months ahead.   And never let us forget, Lord, (and forgive us if we do), that this school belongs to You, and that our efforts in it are not work, but ministry before You and for the benefit of the souls we are privileged to serve with your Word of truth.


In addition, we ask that you would bless Sadie Hahn as she leaves her parents and us here in Northwest Arkansas to begin a new school year at Nebraska Lutheran High School.  Keep Sadie safe as she travels.  Allow this school year to be a success for her in every way – academically, socially, physically, and especially Spiritually.    May she find joy in whatever lies ahead this year for her, confident that You are always with her to guard, guide and bless her.


Lord God, work powerfully through Your Spirit in the hearts of those who do not yet believe, that none might perish eternally, but instead will be brought to that land flowing with milk and honey—heaven itself.


That we might personally share in extending Your kingdom,   grant each of us such a faith  that we will boldly and confidently confess You through our lives and with our voices as the only true God,  upon Whom – alone – our everlasting salvation depends.    For all other things unspoken and hidden in our hearts,  we pray that You, O Lord, would give Your gracious and wise attention to our necessities and desires,   conforming all our hopes and needs to Your perfect will.  Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.   In His name we offer this prayer and continue now, by praying:


Our Father, Who art  in heaven,   Hallowed be Thy name;    Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;    Give us this day our daily bread;  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us;    And lead us not into temptation;   But deliver us from evil;  For Thine is the Kingdom  and the power    and the glory    forever and ever.  Amen.


Now Dismiss Us, Lord


     Benediction –         Brothers and sisters, now go in peace.   Live in harmony with one another.   And Serve the Lord in gladness.


The LORD bless you and keep you.

The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

The LORD look upon you with favor, and grant you His peace.    Amen.



The Closing Hymn                                                                      “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ

                                                                                                                     sung to the melody of Edelweiss



Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ

Ev’ry morning You greet me

Through the day, on my way;

You are with me to keep me.

Here in this world may I live for Thee

Live for Thee forever.

Take my life, fill my life,

Use my life, dear Lord Jesus.


Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,

As a Babe so lowly

Came to die, crucified,

Rose on the third day to live again,

Live again, forever.

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,

Master, King, and Redeemer.


Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,

Friend and Savior Who loves me;

You are mine, I am Thine,

Keep me always beside Thee.

All of my days, I will sing Your praise,

Sing Your praise forever.

Take my life, fill my life,

Use my life, dear Lord Jesus.


Silent Prayer


Post-service music






Last Week at Grace Lutheran Church          Worship Attendance: 52          Communed: 46

Sunday Bible Class:   24          Tuesday Bible Class: 18

Budgetary  Offerings: $3839        School Fund: $11


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today           Morning Worship,  at 9:30 a.m.

“30 minute Bible Class,” begins 5 minutes after close of today’s service

     Tuesday       Morning Bible Class, 10:30 to 11:30 (in church and over the phone)

     Wednesday Opening Day of the New School Year for Grace Lutheran Academy

     Sunday         Morning Worship  9:30 a.m.  with the Lord’s Supper

                             Bible Class, after worship (30 minutes)


This Week’s Birthdays and Anniversary     Aug 10 – Duane and Cynthia Pansegrau

Aug 10 – Gressa Hoyord;   Aug 12 – Joseph Benedict;   Aug 13 – Diane Pfortmiller;

Aug 14 – George and Laura Layton;     Aug 15 – Larry and Cindy Ryan


Serving Us Next Sunday                         Elders:   John Johnson, Steve Stone, Tim Pfortmiller

Ushers: Tim Huebner, Pat Quinlan, Kelvin Johannes, Taylor Ashley                                          

Altar Guild: Tammy Schwartz