by Bruce Hanson


Fifty years ago I read a book by William Schnell titled Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave, the story of a man who had spent his life in the Jehovah’s Witnesses before becoming a Christian later in life. What struck me was his account of his elderly mother’s passing. She had been hospitalized for a non-life threatening illness, but Schnell was convinced that she willed herself to die, fearing that she would not go to heaven because she could not do the things the Watchtower told her she must.

In the Wednesday Men’s Study, we are looking at Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace. I decided to reread it and was stopped dead by a story he told.

Yancey loves March Madness, college basketball at its finest; Yancey’s one sports-related vice. As he watched, he saw a young man at the free throw line; game on the line; the championship. He was in agony. Make the shots; they win; he becomes a hero. Miss, and his failure would haunt him for the rest of his life. Yancey was called to the phone and failed to see the shots. When he returned, the young man was on his teammates’ shoulders; Total Joy! Then Yancey said this, which grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Those two freeze-frames — the same kid crouching at the free throw line and then celebrating on his friends’ shoulders — came to symbolize for me the difference between ungrace and grace.

The world runs by ungrace. Everything depends on what I do. I have to make the shot.

Jesus’ kingdom calls us to another way, one that depends not on our performance but his own. We do not have to achieve but merely follow. He has already earned for us the costly victory of God’s acceptance.


I titled this post as I did because it represents the quandary you and I find ourselves in. Paul expresses it most succinctly.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:21-24


There it is, the truth we know but wish to avoid. Like William Schnell’s mom, we feel we aren’t worthy. We doubt that God could possibly love us. Satan suggests we throw in the towel. But Paul begins the next chapter with this.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2


By Grace you are saved!!



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