Romans 9:16 (ESV) … “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
This fallacy remains as strong as ever—people still think good intentions are the key to unlock the door to eternal life. By the time they get to try the lock, they will find that their key does not fit. Others imagine that their efforts are building an invisible ladder to heaven made up of service, family, position, reputation, good work, and desire, although none of these rungs will support a feather. People are so busy trying to reach God that they completely miss the truth that God has already reached down to them. We cannot earn God’s mercy—if we could, it would not be mercy.
Barton, B. B., Veerman, D., & Wilson, N. S. (1992). Romans (p. 184). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.