Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Abounding Grace

In 2 Cor 9:8 Paul writes:

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

The Bible gives us the promise that God will provide everything we need for the Christian life. Many Christadelphians think of life as a struggle as we struggle against sin and our own fallen human nature. There is an emphasis on Romans 7 and Paul's description of his internal struggle which he experienced before he came to know the freedom from sin in Christ (which he describes in chapter 8). In fact, in some Christadelphian meetings much is made about the Romans 7 struggle and the Romans 8 victory is glossed over, or sometimes even ignored (I remember hearing about a Bible study in Adelaide on Romans which was in two parts: part 1 was Romans 1-7, and part 2 was Romans 9-16. Chapter 8 was left out entirely!)

But God promises victory over sin and the weaknesses of human nature:

- "To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 24-25)

- "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:13)

- "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)

- "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." (Eph 3:16-17)

Here is one of my favourites. Notice how Paul emphasises the enormous power that is available to us by using almost every possible synonym for "power" or "strength":

- "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms" (Eph 1:18-20).

The Amplified Bible uses these words in v. 19 "the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power". Paul is not simply saying that God is powerful: he is telling us that we can experience this power through His grace which abounds in us!

Life does not need to be a struggle against ourselves when we become Christians. We do not need to work for our salvation and overcome sin and temptation alone. God promises to give us every spiritual resource that we need in order to live a life of victory and fullness. I was not taught this when I became a Christadelphian, and I did not hear about this for many years. When I discovered this truth my life changed.

I learned that life is not a probation for the Kingdom. We are not here to be tested so that God can decide at the Judgment Seat whether or not we are "acceptable". Jesus said "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). God wants to give us the kingdom as a gift! That's grace! God wants you and me in His kingdom and will do absolutely everything He can - He will "exert" Himself and use His mighty strength - to make sure we enter it with exceeding joy.

No comments: