Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Sufficient Grace – 27 April 2016, Anno Domini
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)
I believe that there are many Christians today who confute faith for grace. Without the Grace of God, there would be no faith – for faith is a gift of God’s Grace. True belief and faith is a creation in our hearts by the Grace of God and His Holy Spirit working to draw us near. Since grace is a free gift, the disposition of the heart of man cannot act on its own to draw near to God – it must first be drawn there by grace. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (Romans 5:15) The Tenth of our Thirty Nine Articles of Religion of the Reformation Church of England bear this biblical truth out in its doctrinal statement: The condition of Man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing (preceding or drawing) us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
The great Reformer, Martin Luther, made the grace of God the centerpiece of his work – Bondage of the Will – as posited by the 8th & 9th verses of Chapter Two of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (and many other biblical references): For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9) So you believe you did a good deed in coming to the Lord? Without grace drawing you there, you could not have approached.
The subject of Grace is one of the two profound aspects of the Holy Bible along with the Law of God. Without God’s Moral Law there could be no grace for there would be no sin. And, to the Arminians among us, what is sin but the transgression of God’s Law. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4) To deny that God’s Law is morally binding on the Christian is to deny the grace made available by Christ in redeeming us by means of that very Law.
It would take more than Martin Luther’s great book to inform us of all of the aspects of Grace, In fact, it would take sixty-six books that we have in the Holy Bible. This devotion cannot cover but a tiny range in meaning of grace, so we will confine our commentary on the sufficiency of grace to the Christian only.
As a believer in Christ, you should know that the grace of God is always and forever sufficient for you in every condition of life. It is, as well, sufficient at the moment of the sleep of Death that separates the Elect from the Heavenly Paradise of God. Death is an open door to the Elect, and prison bars for the wicked.
How is grace sufficient for us?
1) When we are weak and life’s challenges seem insurmountable, we have a Friend to whom we can appeal. In the words of that lovely old hymn by the German hymn-writer, Edmund Lorenze, Are you weary, are you heavy hearted? Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus. Are you grieving over joys departed? Tell it to Jesus alone. Jesus will not always remove the challenges, but He will make us able to overcome them. Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. (Isaiah 40:28-29)
2) Are we tossed about on a sea of cares, lost and without a Star to guide us? We have that Bright & Morning Star to set our course to. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. (Matt 18:11)
If we are lost, Christ has already sent a search for us.
3) Are you sickly and wasting away in illness and misery? Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:14-16 (KJV) Having been drawn to Jesus by just a little knowledge of who He was, the woman taken with an issue of blood was healed by the little spark of faith granted to her by the grace of God. (see Matt 9:20)
4) Are you desperately poor? There is no greater poverty than that of the soul. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Rev 3:18) That gold tried in the fire is the Word of God. Whoever buys the Word of God by means of the faith granted by grace shall be rich indeed. Not only outwardly rich, but inward so. Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. (Prov 23:23) What is the receipt of our purchase? It is a thorough and continuing study of the Word of God in His Holy Book.
5) Are we blind to the Light of God’s Word? anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As we have said before, there are many walking about today who are dead (Eph 2). There are also many who have eyes to see and ears to hear but see and hear not. Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (Mark 8:18) (see also Ps 115:5, 135:16, Matt 13:15) If God has planted that spark of faith in our hearts by grace, our understanding will rise to the knowledge of what God’s Word means to us, and our eyes will be opened as surely as those two on the road to Emmaus at the breaking of the bread. (Matt 9:30)
6) Do we suffer an inordinate fear over the troubles of life or of our loved ones? Remember Jairus whose little daughter lay dying? And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. (Mark 5:22-23) But, alas, it seems Jairus had tarried too long in finding Jesus for as Jesus was speaking, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? Mark 5:35 But may I kindly remind the reader that it is never too late to seek the mercy and grace of Jesus! The compassionate eyes of our Lord caught the desperate sorrow in the eyes of Jairus. 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. Mark 5:36 (KJV) We all know the end of that story. The tears of sorrow for Jairus may have been for one night, but joy came in the morning when Jesus spoke to the twelve year old daughter of Jairus, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. (Mark 5:41)
7) Are you hungry? Our Lord Jesus Christ can feed you with an abundance that exceeds your hunger: And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. (John 6:11-12) But from which appetite does your hunger arise? From a hunger for things of the world, or of Heaven? He will always provide for our wants (needs) in this life, but a greater provision will He make for our blessings in glory.
8) So your heart is filled with sorrow? He will come to you and turn your tears of sorrow to tears of joy just as He did for Mary Magdalene at the Garden Tomb. (see John 20) 1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. . . . . I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:1-3,18)
9) So the road ahead is marred by the fog of doubt and perplexity? The Lord has equipped us with an amazing array of faculties to guide the ship of our souls in every kind of storm, but the greatest compass we can own is that of a good conscience, duly informed by the Word of God. It is that still, small voice that came to Elijah by the mountain rock. (1 Kings 19:12) Please remember that the great stones and floods of life remain to the Christian as to the heathen, but we have that Voice behind quietly whispering to us. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:20-21)
We have discussed only a meager portion of the ways in which God’s Grace is sufficient unto us. His grace is so very abundant and broad that our ships can never traverse the fullness of that vast Sea of Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; but isn’t it a great joy to sail that Sea in faith?