Boats and Grace


Maybe you have seen, read, or heard the illustration of a row boat used to explain the relationship between grace, works, and faith.  In this classic illustration the oars are labeled faith and works and the boat is named grace. You pull evenly with faith and works. You efforts keep you going in the right direction while grace keeps you afloat. There is a lot to like in that illustration.

A similar illustration is one of a submarine in the Rich Mullins’ song “Faith without works is like a song you can’t sing, its about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.”

Somewhere, sometime I heard a sermon on faith, works, and grace that used a different seaworthy vessel to illustrate their interdependence. The late Terry Hannah, was the preacher where I served as youth minister in Niceville, Florida. We had some avid boaters in the congregation and many of them preferred sailboats. Knowing this, Bro. Hannah used a sailboat instead of the tradition of a row boat. His illustration has stayed with me for over a quarter of a century.

Grace is the wind that powers the craft. Grace always moves toward heaven.

The sails are Faith which catch the wind.

It takes Work to set the sails to catch the wind.

What do you think about this illustration?


One thought on “Boats and Grace

  1. Helpful illustration. I also love a good nautical analogy. But I wouldn’t want to separate grace from our faith and our working so much. In my not so humble opinion, grace is not just in the wind but the ultimate reality behind both our faith and working. That shouldn’ make us lazy but make us able to say with Paul, “I worked harder than any of them, yet it was not I, but the grace of God within me.”

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