Why don’t our works work? . . . God simply won’t allow anyone to make Him a debtor. . . . In other words, God will not permit a man to believe that He owes him salvation in exchange for his rule-keeping. Salvation must be by grace alone–the free gift of God. No matter what kind of rule-keeping you involve yourself in, whether religious ceremonies and rites, or deeds of charity and sacrifice, God cannot be made to owe you salvation in return. Salvation is not God’s obligation; it is His gift. . . . God will never reward the effort you exert to save yourself. He will not let you make the cross a meaningless act. He will not obligate Himself to save you because you do what you believe are good works.
– Jim Elliff