I have learned several things lately ... about myself, about my God. But I wanted to share one thing in particular that grabbed me at the end of last week. I am on the chapter simply titled: Grace. We've talked about God's miraculous saving grace, but on Friday the topic turned to his wonderful sanctifying grace. I desperately need that sanctification that only comes through HIS grace.
Nancy writes in the study:
As Christians, we recognize that we are saved by God's grace alone, totally apart from our own effort or ability. However, many Christians mistakenly think that once they're saved. it's up to them to live the Christian life - that they can somehow be sanctified by their own effort and ability. So they struggle and strive to become "good Christians," failing to realize that they cannot live the Christian life apart from God's grace, any more than they can be saved apart from God's grace.I know this quote is about me. I immediately knew (as the Holy Spirit spoke to me) when I read that quote that I have been struggling and striving. And looking back I knew that wasn't right, but I never applied the truth to my own life. It's as if a light bulb came on in my heart. I absolutely cannot live the abundant life that Jesus promised apart from God's grace any more than I can enter God's kingdom apart from Him.
I am so guilty of many times thinking that living the abundant, Spirit-filled life is just way too hard and that it can't be done by everyone. I have long thought, deep down in my heart, that it's only possible for a select few who have it all together. John Piper said:
Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.
Grace is power. Wow. I have so much more that I could go on about from my study the other day. But I really wanted to focus on the following:
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.That's 2 Corinthians 9:8. And in this passage Paul is exhorting the Corinthians about the grace of giving. But I find it interesting that in this verse Paul uses the words ALL and EVERY. He not just talking about one good work here (giving), he's talking about ALL good works. I know I have already written so much in this post, but do you mind if I dig in a little here?
God is able. Able is translated from the Greek dunatos. It means mighty, powerful, strong. It comes from the Greek word dunamai, which means "to have power". We get our word dynamite from this Greek word. The dictionary says the word able means "having the necessary power." The necessary power. God is able ... He has the necessary power. I need that because I don't have the necessary power on my own!
What is it that God is able to do? To make all grace abound to you and me. All grace. What does all mean? The Greek word here is pas and it means ... ALL! Ha! By the way, did you know that the Greek word charis (which is translated as "grace") comes from the Greek word chairo? Chairo means "to rejoice exceedingly, to be glad, to thrive." I find that extremely interesting! Next is the word abound. Before I even look it up it speaks to me. But let's look it up anyway :) . Abound comes from the Greek word perisseuo which means to exceed, to overflow. It comes from the Greek word perissos which means abundant. Wow. The dictionary says that abound means to be fully supplied, to occur or exist in great quantity.
So ... God has the necessary power to make all grace (His benefits, favor, loving-kindness that enable us to rejoice and to thrive) be fully supplied and to overflow to you and me.
That truth is awesome in and of itself! But when I see it along with the second half of the verse, well I just want to burst with excitement! Oh how I need Him!
The next part of the verse says "so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." Of course, all means all ;), but what about sufficiency? That's from the Greek word autarkeia and it means - get this - "a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed." The dictionary defines it simply as enough. Now, I have read some people expound on this verse and say that it means "self-sufficiency", but I truly do not believe that is the intent. Self-sufficiency ... are you kidding? That's what gets us into all kinds of trouble! That's what has gotten me in the mess I am in! No, I truly believe that God's intention is for us to find our sufficiency in Him, so there is no thought in our minds that we need anything or anyone else but Him. He is simply enough!
And what about "in all things at all times"? Wow. Do you need God's grace in all things at all times? I do! Oh wait ... there's that abound word again: "... so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work ...". Abound. I like that word. Remember what it means? To exceed, to overflow, to be fully supplied, in great quantity. What will abound? Every good work. In this passage good comes from the Greek word agathos which means, well, good. And work comes from the Greek ergon, and that means "that which one undertakes to do."
So let me see if I can sum it up. God has the necessary power to make all grace (His benefits, favor, loving-kindness that enable us to rejoice and to thrive) be fully supplied and to overflow to you and me so that we have enough of what we need at all times and in all things so that we will be fully supplied and overflowing in every good thing that we undertake to do.
Are you still with me? Is that awesome? Is God wonderful? I need to know this truth. I need to apply this truth. I need to live in it. Every good thing that I undertake to do, God is able to supply all that I need to accomplish it. Oh that I would walk in this truth! Oh how I need him! Oh how He loves us!