The Sufficiency of God’s Grace
A man stood up in a meeting and facing the preacher who had spoken about the sufficiency of God’s grace, said: “You can talk like that about Christ—that He is dear to you, that He helps you—but if your wife were dead as my wife is, and you had some babies crying for their mother who would never come back, you could not say what you are saying.” A little later the preacher lost his wife in an accident. After others had conducted the funeral service, he stood by the casket, looked down into the face of the silent wife and mother of his children and said, “The other day when I was preaching, a man said I could not say Christ was sufficient if my wife were dead and my children were crying for their mother If that man is here, I want to tell him that Christ is sufficient. My heart is broken, my heart is crushed, my heart is bleeding, but there is a song in my heart, and Christ put it there. And if that man is here, I tell him though you are gone and my children are motherless, Christ comforts me today.” That man was there, and down the aisle he came and stood beside the casket and said, “Truly, if Christ can help in a time like this, I surrender to Him.” – taken from illustrations (grace), studylight.org
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Corinthians 9:8).
What do we mean by grace? There have been many definitions over the decades and centuries. The most common definition is “God’s unmerited favor.” This means what though? God’s grace is His enabling to accomplish what man cannot on his own attain. With that in mind, let’s consider three aspects of God’s grace to mankind.
Many commentators have divided the different aspects of God’s grace into three categories so we will stay within these three categories.
The Bible speaks to the unsaved and announces that there is grace to be saved. This is shown clearly in Ephesians 2:8-9. “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.”
This passage is a beautiful picture of salvation.
The Greek word for grace is charis. In classical Greek charis meant “a favor freely done, without claim or expectation or return.” The ancient Greeks used charis as a favor that was always bestowed on a FRIEND, never an enemy.
Albert Barnes in his commentary on Romans 1 gives a great description of grace.
Grace—This word properly means “favor.” It is very often used in the New Testament, and is employed in the sense of benignity or benevolence; felicity, or a prosperous state of affairs; the Christian religion, as the highest expression of the benevolence or favor of God; the happiness which Christianity confers on its friends in this and the future life; the apostolic office; charity, or alms; thanksgiving; joy, or pleasure; and the benefits produced on the Christian’s heart and life by religion—the grace of meekness, patience, charity, etc. “In this place, and in similar places in the beginning of the apostolic epistles, it seems to be a word including all those blessings that are applicable to Christians in common; denoting an ardent wish that all the mercies and favors of God for time and eternity, blended under the general name grace, may be conferred on them. It is to be understood as connected with a word implying invocation. I pray, or I desire, that grace, etc. may be conferred on you. It is the customary form of salutation in nearly all the apostolic epistles; (I Corinthians 1:3; II Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; I Thessalonians 1:1; II Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 1:3).
So, as we come to Ephesians 2, this word grace goes farther than what the citizens would understand in Paul’s time. For it was understood that a citizen should extend favor to his friends and help those that were close to him. However, God gave His Son for His ENEMIES, and Jesus died for His ENEMIES—a thing unheard of before. So, biblically speaking, saving grace may be defined as “the action whereby God freely gives to unworthy, willing recipients that which they do not deserve.”
Another way that God gives grace is for sustaining trials and tribulations. Notice the text in II Corinthians 12:7-9. “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
There has been much debate about the “thorn in the flesh” that Paul had in his life. We could spend time discussing this point, but that is not the point of this passage. The point is that Paul went to the Lord to get rid of this “thorn.” God told him, “NO!” Paul then says, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Many expositors believe that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a painful eye disease that plagued him in the latter years of his life. But instead of God taking this trial away, God’s answer to Paul was this: “My grace is sufficient for thee, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities…” This is God’s “sustaining grace.”
God’s sustaining grace may be defined as “the power and strength to persevere and overcome trials and difficulties.”
The third way that we see grace used in the Bible is what some call sanctifying or empowering grace. We find this shown to us in I Corinthians 15:10 where it says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
The empowering grace is in essence the power to perform or do God’s will for one’s life as a believer. Notice that the apostle Paul says in the verse, “yet not I.” He is indicating that he was not able to do this work. In other passages, Paul claims to be the “least of all saints” and the “chief of sinners.” How can this lowly, undeserving person accomplish something for God? God’s grace provides the wherewithal to do that which mere human strength cannot. Sanctifying grace in this aspect may be defined as “the desire, will, and power to do God’s will.”
Paul says in Philippians 2:13. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” It should be our desire to do God’s will in our lives. It is not self-help, self-will or self-motivation that will accomplish His will in our lives. It is the grace or empowering of God in our lives. Again, grace is the empowering or the ability to do that which is impossible in man’s strength. It is impossible for us to stand against temptation; it is impossible to stay pure in an evil day; it is impossible to rear godly children. However, in God’s grace, we can accomplish these things.
These Scriptures teach that God operates in us, and it is through His grace that we function in the Christian life if we let Him.
- God commands us to LOVE HIM; He then gives us the grace to love Him—that is, the will, power and desire to love Him.
- He commands us to SERVE HIM; He then gives us the grace to serve Him.
- He commands us to LIVE HOLY BEFORE GOD— He then gives us the grace to be holy.
- He commands us to LOVE ONE ANOTHER— He then gives us the grace to love one another.
Conclusion: Picture a table set with delicious food. Hungry people are gathered around it. God has prepared the food. It is free. If there are some who sit at this table and do not taste the food, it is their own fault. To be in the midst of plenty and to go hungry is certainly unreasonable behavior. Yet that is what is happening all the time. God’s bounty is not taken advantage of. God provides spiritual food, but He will not force it on any one man. He must reach out and partake of it. – taken from illustrations (grace), studylight.org.
Ask not for grace to avoid the trials that God has for you. Ask not for grace to get out of the work that God has for you. Instead ask for God’s grace to enable you to do that which in our flesh is impossible. May all flesh glory in God’s amazing grace. Grace that saves, sustains, and sanctifies the believer.