Monday, May 1, 2006

The Sufficiency of Grace

Can you believe it? I actually used to think God’s grace was a part of the Christian life! I thought of it as one of those many topics in the Christian life like obedience, good works, wisdom, devotion, ministry, forgiveness, holiness, giving, discipleship, and so on and so forth. Grace, to me, was a subject worth visiting now and then, especially when I’d messed up pretty bad. But I no longer think of grace as a “part” of the Christian life.

Rather than one topic of many, I believe grace is the ESSENCE of the whole Christian life! Do we really think we’re adequate to live any moment of our life in Christ apart from grace? I love reminding others (and being reminded myself) that we’re saved and “justified freely” by His grace. I have no problem sitting and soaking in that good news for hours on end! But what if the application of grace went even farther than forgiveness and knowing we’ll go to heaven? In the past I’ve been thankful for God’s grace, but it was basically kept “on the shelf” until I thought I needed it (when I sinned). The Bible does more than simply hint at a complete necessity for grace in the 24/7 living of the Christian life.

For example, when it comes to spiritual gifts Paul tells us that we’re each gifted differently “according to the grace given us.” In speaking of his own spiritual growth and ministry Paul writes, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain, but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” Elsewhere he testifies, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.”

Was Paul saying, “I put forth my best effort and grace covered the rest?” To me it seems more like, “Every single thing I did was solely the result of grace working in me.” “This is our boast,” he affirms, “our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace.” Paul’s boast in his accomplishments wasn’t really a boast in his accomplishments! It was a testimony to the power of grace. His devotion to his call, his understanding of the gospel, his abundant labor in the Lord, his servanthood, his persistence, his humility, his… you name it, wasn’t sustained for a moment by his own strength, striving or abilities.

Rather than a “strong Christian,” I see Paul reckoning himself as a weak person with complete dependence upon grace. Can you relate? I can! Paul even went so far as to say “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” The more we yield to grace, the more Paul’s additional testimony and confession of “when I am weak, then I am strong” makes sense! Words like these demonstrate the 180 degree turnaround from his former trust in his fleshly strengths that he recalls (and deems as DUNG!) in Philippians 3. Trying to stir up the flesh in order to make a good outward showing was off limits to Paul. All arrows point inwardly to the Spirit of God who dwells in us and to His grace that powerfully works in us. Paul’s exhortations for the body of Christ are infused with phrases like “according to the Spirit,” “by the power of the Spirit,” “through Christ,” “Christ in you” and countless mentions of grace. What else, besides yielding to grace, can enable us with power for Christian living!

I’ve sometimes been known as the “grace” guy. There goes Joel with that grace stuff again! I guess I just can’t see how the Christian life can bear any fruit apart from full submission to the grace of God. To do Kingdom work, I believe we must all be “grace” people! By His grace, God embellishes us with His own beauty. His life is inextricably woven into ours. His grace is the source of our life, our being and ultimately our actions. This is something we can rest in. As we take the focus off ourselves and turn to trusting in His grace we can be assured that rather than passivity our lives will be fully animated by Him – in His way and in His timing! The Lord Himself described the fullness of the power of His grace: “Sufficient.”

(Verses quoted: Rom 3:24, Rom 12:6, 1 Cor 15:10, Eph 3:7, 2 Cor 1:12, 2 Cor 12:9-10)


  1. Thanks for stopping by, PTB! This particular article is among my favorites, because it takes the emphasis off of "us" and onto the grace of God as our sufficiency.

  2. An answer to what I have been seeking understanding of from the Lord; " The Grace of God. The Lord lead me here. Blessings!