A Store of Merit

Ellet J. Waggoner

The Present Truth : February 1, 1894

In Roman Catholic theology, the works of some—called saints—have been more than was required and these supererogatory works constitute a store of merit from which the church draws for those who have been deficient, to release from purgatory or grant indulgences. Of course such a doctrine could originate only with those who expected to earn salvation by their good works. This being the case, the man who could do an exceptional amount of goodness, more than others who are earning eternal life, would have more merit than is really required.
To fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. Anyone who can do more than this does more than is required. But it took nothing less than the Divine life of Christ to meet the demands of the law. Unless one has more than this to give, he can do more than is required. The law of God is His own way, His own character, and therefore the Lord requires of us nothing less than His own perfection and goodness.
Further, only one who is good can do good works. “There is none good but one, that is God” (Matt. 19:17). Then we can work not the slightest good. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done,” thank the Lord, “but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5).

There is a store of merit, of good works for those who are deficient—and all have “come short of the glory of God.” Christ of God is made unto us, first of all, wisdom, and righteousness—right doing. Not works stored up by mortal men have we to draw upon, but by faith in Him we have the treasures of His merits counted unto us for righteousness. Our works are wrought in Him. “Oh how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men” (Ps. 31:19)! Wrought for us, but also wrought in us by His own power.