Grace is defined by the Random House Dictionary a number of ways, with the third definition closest to the Biblical one: favor or goodwill. W.E. Vineâ€™s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines the Greek karis as â€œthat which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard.â€
Theologians describe it as unmerited favor.
I say it is God blessing me in ways I do not deserve.
I think we can all agree we love Godâ€™s grace.
Why does God bless us with such grace? Simply, to do His will.
â€œAnd God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.â€ (2 Corinthians 9:8)
The Apostle Paul possibly knew more than any man who ever lived of the sufficiency of Christâ€™s grace. He experienced it on the Damascus Road when Jesus saved him. He also experienced it and heard of its sufficiency from Jesus Himself later in Paulâ€™s ministry:
â€œAnd lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, â€˜My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.â€™ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christâ€™s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.â€ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
I remember the exact moment when this passageâ€™s power broke through to me. I was on a military exercise and we had to ride the bus 30 minutes from our billeting to where the exercise building was located. I had just read this chapter and the Holy Spirit allowed a heavenly revelation to dawn upon me. The only time in the Bible that Jesus said His strength would be perfect, that is complete, in me, is in my weakness. So what does this mean?
It means that when I am tempted to do what is contrary to Godâ€™s Word to the point of failure, Jesus is there to help me through. Our pastor reminded us this past weekend of one of the myths about the Bible. You know those: â€œGod helps those who help themselves; Cleanliness is next to godliness.â€ By the way, those were written by Benjamin Franklin in â€œPoor Richardâ€™s Almanac.â€
Another myth about the Bible is that is says â€œGod will never give us more than we can handle.â€ Now for those of you with the NTFV Bible (New Touchy-Feely Version) who are looking for â€œYour Best Life Nowâ€ may be stunned by this, but it is true. At best it is a poor recital of this verse:
â€œNo temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.â€ (1 Corinthians 10:13)
What the Apostle Paul is saying is when we are tempted (or better yet tested, our faith that is), it is common to man. But when we face such testing, our God is faithful to not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome because He provides us a way to escape from it and to bear it.
Now that is a lot different than not being giving more than we can handle. The difference is we can still allow temptation to overcome us if we succumb to it instead of relying on Christâ€™s grace to see us through. â€œMy grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.â€
See the difference?
And this is the true meaning of one of the most famous verses in the Bible:
â€œI can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.â€ (Philippians 4:13)
You could easily replace the verb â€œdoâ€ with â€œfaceâ€ or â€œovercome.â€
Dear friend, what are you facing today? Does it seem insurmountable? Are you overwhelmed by events?
Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? He will not only forgive your sins, but He will pour out abounding grace upon your life.
You see, that abounding grace overcomes the penalty of sin.
But also, Christ gives you abundant spiritual power to overcome the power of sin.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright Â© 2012 David Jeffers