A Brief Meditation for the Month

September 2022

One of the noticeable features throughout the writings of the apostle Paul is his emphasis on the Grace of God: God’s undeserved favour. In all his epistles, from Romans through to Philemon, whatever his reason for writing and whatever the nature of the contents, he begins desiring the recipients “Grace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” From personal experience, Paul knew every child of God requires God’s Grace continually, not just saving or justifying Grace, but Grace to persevere to the end of the believer’s life of spiritual warfare. Paul himself could testify, “by the grace of God I am what I am,” 1 Corinthians 15:10. The Grace of God had radically changed a man who acknowledged he had formerly been “a blasphemer, and a persecutor” of the Lord Jesus and his followers, 1 Timothy 1:13; Acts 9:5. It was this same Grace that moved the former slave-trader, John Newton, to pen his remarkable testimony: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” Every justified sinner is equally amazed at divine Grace: that, despite their utter un-deservedness and unworthiness, they are accepted by a Holy and Just God, free from all condemnation. Because they are accepted in the beloved Son of God, who atoned for their sin, they are free from all condemnation, Ephesians 1:6; Romans 8:1. However, although Christians are free from condemnation, they cannot expect a life free from conflict.

Real spiritual warfare is the shared experience of all Christians the world over. Even where they are not openly persecuted for their faith, they are required to engage in a titanic battle with the forces of spiritual darkness. Like the Ephesian believers, whom Paul urged to put on all the armour of God to overcome the devil’s wiles and withstand his attacks, Ephesians 6:11–18, every child of God must do the same. Without that God-provided protection, we all stand exposed to spiritual danger. Inescapable warfare, internally and externally, is the experience of all those who grow in Grace, who progress in the life of faith. One of the pivotal lessons learned by the apostle Paul in his experience was the sufficiency of divine Grace. The apostle candidly acknowledged to the believers in Corinth how earnestly he had prayed for relief from an afflicting thorn in the flesh and deliverance from Satan’s perpetual buffeting. However, he confessed his satisfaction and contentment with the answer he received to his prayer: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Upon this, his whole attitude changed. He then said he would gladly persevere and even “take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake,” 2 Corinthians 12:7–10. Whatever the apostle previously thought he needed, he learned this most valuable lesson: more than anything, he needed a constant supply of God’s Grace. What he needed, however, would come from a freely accessible inexhaustible source. We are reminded of this from the words in the epistle of James, “he giveth more grace,” James 4:6. The faithful, godly martyrs throughout history who were willing to lay down their lives for Christ received Grace to live for him, but when the time came, they were supplied with Grace to die for their Saviour. He gave them all the Grace they needed when they needed it. Amidst their suffering, He adorned them with the heavenly beauty of his all-sufficient Grace. Thomas Watson, the Puritan, put it well: “Grace sheds a glory and lustre upon the soul. As the diamond to the ring, so is Grace to the soul. A heart beautified with Grace hath the King of heaven’s picture hung in it.” Child of God, take heart—His Grace is sufficient.

G. G. Hutton.