When We Have Nothing Left But God, We Discover That God Is Enough

We would all come up short if measured by the law. But God’s grace gives us new life and new opportunities.

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness…'” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NASB)

You are a Child of GodPaul relays a message he received from God in this passage. When Paul asked God to take away ‘a thorn in his flesh,’ God lovingly denied his request. Why? Because it made Paul weak. Why would God want this for one of his faithful servants? Because it made him powerful.

How can someone be weak and powerful at the same time? Our passage contains the answer and grace is the key. In fact, grace is all that is needed – grace alone is sufficient. Let’s see how grace makes the weakness/power formula work. As you read on, watch for the key elements below. You’ll see them along the way. 

Grace                                                Weakness
Access                                              Power
Control

 

It all starts with grace. If you look at a bible dictionary, you’ll see grace defined as unmerited benevolence or favor. God offers each of us His gift of grace, His unmerited benevolence and favor in spite of our sins. He can do this because of what Christ did by dying on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins. At the point where God’s offer of grace meets our willful acceptance of it, God gives us a new heart in which His Holy Spirit dwells. We then have access to the very power and nature of God and we don’t even have to go looking for it, it resides in us.

This sets up a conflict. A conflict between the world, unavoidably mired in sin, and God. In the world, power is determined by how much control you have. If you have more control over other people than they have over you, you have power. If you control more money than others, you have power. Conversely, if you have given control, voluntarily or involuntarily, to others you are weak. If you control less money than others, you are weak, and so on.

In God’s system, the more you attempt to control things yourself the more you close off access to the Spirit’s power. On the other hand, the more you relinquish control to God’s Holy Spirit, to guide you, to inspire you, to act through you, the more power you have. And not just any power. The power that created the entire universe, that healed the sick through Jesus’ touch, that raised Jesus from the dead, that’s the power we’re talking about here! So, the weaker you become in the world’s eyes, the more power you actually attain.

Now yielding control is something most of us would say is very hard for us. But we fool ourselves! We yield control all the time without even realizing it. When we need to get to the 14th floor of our office building, instead of maintaining control ourselves and trudging up the stairs, we turn over control to an elevator. Instead of walking across the country to visit loved ones living far away, we turn over control to a pilot and a jet aircraft. We are actually quite good at giving up control when it is to our benefit to do so. And what could benefit us more than the very power of God?!

So, is God’s grace sufficient? Yes! Abundantly so! That’s the truth.

When you accept My gift of grace, you will gain access to My power. You will be able to give up control to the My Spirit, for I will dwell in you. As you do this, My power will be perfected in you. You will appear weak to the world, but you will have more power than anything in the world. My grace is all you need to make this happen!

That’s the YouTruth. God’s Grace Is Sufficient For You.

*Photo(s)/Resource(s): Dan Buckhout
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Being Good Does Not Save You!

I have always wondered why people insist that Christianity is about being good. That all decent, good people are going heaven. Hence our salvation would be based on works or our behavior. But the Bible is telling us the polar opposite:

You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Eph.2: 8-10)

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is a gift. Faith is a gift. Grace is a gift. Jesus is a gift. It’s all God’s work from start to finish. Even the idea is God’s. Our role is to receive these gifts and believe. Like Lewis Sperry Chafer has stated “Anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to Heaven. Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, who are His enemies, can go to Heaven.”

However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law. (Gal. 2: 16)

We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Not by being good and doing good. That will come later, when the Holy Spirit works in and through us. God has planned great things for us to do when we are inspired and empowered by the Spirit. Those works are fruit of the Spirit and we will always be just vessels of God’s grace. But those works don’t save us, only faith in Jesus does.

I died to the Law through the Law, so that I could live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. I don’t ignore the grace of God, because if we become righteous through the Law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Gal. 2: 19-21)

In defense of Grace, Amazing Grace, saving grace. There is a distinction between good people and people who use good to further their own status. Good people show up all over the place – and it’s not helpful to raise questions about their integrity, motives or spiritual status. Grace Alone has made for lots of lazy Christians who talk the faith but hardly live the faith – but that’s okay, because they’re saved by grace (Paul deals with this in Romans).

This is a distinction based upon a misreading of Paul, filtered through Luther – sadly, we end up reading Jesus and the Old Testament through Paul, rather than the other way around. We need to read Jesus in the light of the Old Testament, and Paul in the light of Jesus. We’re still stuck in the old Reformation paradigms, which are of value, but limited value, not absolute.

The doctrine of grace, as noted here, can make us spoilsports – we see good, as the Pharisees did, and reject it, because it “lacks” the verbal or whatever-witness we expect.  Where there’s good, there’s God! Where there’s God, there’s good. God constantly creates good in all sorts of places so that the “elect” don’t get uppity (see latter half of Genesis 12 where Pharaoh lectures Abram on ethics and morals). Christians have often used this idea in a one-upmanship style – that we have the “true and right” understanding, and while the framers of the doctrine intended a great humility, in the souls of some, it’s the doctrine that has come to mean more than the grace, and thus the pride of knowing the doctrine rather than grace.

We have been co-crucified with Christ. When we receive God’s grace, we are saved through our faith in Jesus. Then it is not us but Christ doing those good deeds. We can only boast in the cross. We can only brag about God’s grace. And even that is free for all.

If we say that Christianity is about being good and all the good people are going to heaven, we are making the crucifixion unnecessary. We are ignoring God’s grace, downgrading the power and meaning of the blood of Christ. Lord, have mercy!

 

 

*Resource: Mari-Anna Stålnacke