Winning With the Gift of Grace

GRACE WINS

Back in the sixties, I remember a slogan that was used quite often to express the intention to eradicate the plight of poor people. It was called, “The War on Poverty.” The aim was for government to do all it could to defeat social problems through welfare programs and the like.

The Apostle Paul didn’t use the words, “War on Poverty” but he did speak of a kind of war that involved the grace of God and the battle against spiritual poverty:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 New International Version, NIV)

These verses show that God’s grace or divine favor is a conquering grace. When God gave his gift of grace through Jesus, his Son, he gave us the privilege of overcoming sin. From a spiritual standpoint, we are able to win the war against the devastation of sin if we’ve accepted the gift of salvation in Christ. This puts us in a very unique position.

Battle lines have been drawn if we are enlisted as a soldier for Christ. But these are no ordinary battle lines and a soldier in Christ is no ordinary soldier. For a soldier in Christ is not armed with conventional weapons that maim and destroy human lives. Instead, we are equipped with a divine weapon—the weapon of grace. Have you ever thought of his grace as a weapon?

It’s like this: God’s grace is so powerful and awesome that it breaks down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. It annihilates rebellious ideas and constructively teaches us to obey Christ. We call this “spiritual warfare” between the forces of good versus the forces of evil.

This warfare is far more real and genuine than “may the force be with you” as in the Star Wars movies. In contrast to the grace of God, the force is a farce in Star Wars. If you truly want to win against the force of evil and be on the force of good, you need to accept the gift of God’s grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8, English Standard Version, ESV).

We must understand the seriousness of winning this struggle between good and evil through God’s grace. Consider, for example, how war actually starts. James put his finger on it when he wrote, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?,” (James 4:1, New Living Translation, NLT). An evil desire leads to conflict that leads to violence that leads to war that leads to destruction. Every war in history can be traced to lusts and passions that violate God’s laws (Read James 4:.2-3; 2 Timothy 2:23; 1 Pet. 2:11.). And you find the same pattern when there is family conflict and personal conflict, as well.

Ironically, the war we wage as Christians actually results in victory over our conflicts, not destruction. It is the good fight, the fight of faith, (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). This victory brings peace for God’s grace is sufficient for overcoming those conflicts.

In Romans 8:37-39 Paul says,

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). Notice, “…we overwhelmingly conquer” because it is “…through him who loved us.” His gracious love makes it possible for us to make our victory over conflicts decisive and final.

This is the same thought Paul presented to the Corinthian believers. God’s grace is sufficient, for he says,

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong, (2 Cor. 12:7-10, NASB).

The word for “sufficient” in this passage means “more than enough.” God’s grace provides more than enough power to cope with our “thorns in the flesh.” This phrase is an idiom that means anything that is annoying or causing you trouble. Whatever those “thorns” turn out to be for you, God’s grace provides more than enough power to cope with them. How is this possible? According to Paul, the Lord said that his power was made perfect in weakness. Why? Because the weaker we are, the more we must rely on God’s strength to carry us through our conflict. Ergo, the more we acknowledges our weaknesses, the stronger we become through the power of God’s grace. It’s all we need.

One time there was a young man who worked as a teacher and preacher who faced a tragedy in his life. One of his dear children died suddenly while the family was vacationing at the seaside.

Returning from the funeral, the stricken father knelt in his study, pleading with God to make his grace sufficient in this hour of sorrow. But his heart seemed unresponsive in prayer or to a word of Scripture. All seemed dark and numb.

Finally, he looked at the text that had long hung over the mantelpiece in the room, and for the first time he noticed that one word was in all capital letters: The word IS, as the sentence stated, “My grace IS sufficient for thee.”

The minister cried, “Lord, forgive me. I have been asking Thee to make Thy grace sufficient for me, and all the time Thou hast been saying to me, ‘My grace IS sufficient.’ I thank Thee for sufficient grace, and I appropriate it now.” God’s grace is already earmarked for us; it already IS sufficient for us. That’s what makes it so amazing.

Yes, grace wins every time, just as this song says: http://youtu.be/9JXl1czvh7g

Karl Barth said, “Grace must first find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.” God’s Son was born so that God could fill us full of his grace and truth. Such a gift provides victory. Such a gift provides peace on earth as well as peace in our lives. Such a gift provides freedom and the hope of eternal life in God’s coming Kingdom. Such a gift is why we can sing Joy to the World:

http://youtu.be/bqjzpWYFJfc

Have a Blessed Christmas!
And Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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