“His Grace is Sufficient”
October 4, 2020
HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)) (822)
It is only by God’s Grace that any of us are here this morning. It is through His powerful, wonderful, Prevenient Grace that we are called to Him by Him and for Him in the first place. You didn’t seek God out, no matter how much you think you did. He started the process. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6:65 (NIV)) (756) He knew us in our mother’s wombs and has loved us since the first spark of life entered into us. King David said we are fearfully and wonderfully made I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14 (NIV)). (445)
It is only by the Grace of God that I get to stand before you as a preacher of the Gospel of Christ. I would not pretend that it is by anything that is a part of me that I could do this. Paul’s teachings on Grace, to me, are some of the most profound and meaningful teachings in God’s Word. They clearly give us the depths of God’s Word and Love that we need daily in our lives. We are going to look at some of those teachings and see if we can find some of that depth that we may not have plumbed as of yet.
Perhaps you heard, as I did growing up, that “Pain and suffering come from the devil. Since God wants His servants well and free of pain, healing and happiness are of the Lord.” That sounds great. The problem is, it’s neither true nor biblical. The devil is not always the one responsible for the pain and suffering in our lives. You may be surprised to know that there are times when pain comes as part of God’s sovereign plan to prepare us as useful servants. He knows what is best for us in light of what He’s doing in us.
I’m not so sure that God points His finger at someone and causes pain, but there may be times when He allows it. There’s a chasm between Causing and Allowing. Think of Job, Satan could not touch Job until God removed the restrictions, “the hedge” surrounding Job. At that point God Allowed Job to be subjected to Satan’s attacks. God Allowed it… He did not Cause it.
There are so many fronts on which I could approach this subject, Sufficient Grace. Today I want to talk about His Grace manifesting in our lives on a day to day basis.
During His ministry Paul experienced remarkable events and trials. Let me give you one account of Paul’s trials and tribulations. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NIV)) (822) As you read them, you need to realize that this is not everything bad that happened to Paul, but only a brief account. Think about it, when our air conditioning goes out in the house we go crazy. Trying to sleep at night as we toss and turn and sweat. However, we don’t get beaten and shipwrecked.
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (822) Paul tells us of a great blessing he received. I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know — God knows. 3 And I know that this man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)
He was called up into heaven for a visit and some instruction. About something like this he might have boasted in the wrong way, as many of us might. But, to make sure that he didn’t God gave Paul “a thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble. As great a minister as Paul was he always remained humble and gave Jesus Christ the Glory for everything he did, and rightfully so.
The “thorn” has been discussed down through the ages by theologians, lay people and scholars. There have been many different “thorns” suggested, but there is no definitive answer as to what it was. Some have said it was migraine headaches or extremely poor eyesight. In Paul’s later letters that he penned himself, the writing grows larger and larger, maybe lending credence to the eyesight problem, or even migraine headaches. Either could give the same results.
Paul tells us that God’s Grace is sufficient for his life; and it is for ours, also. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV) (822) Paul is always quick to talk about the Grace of God in his life. Now, let’s look at some of the blessings we have received through the Grace of God in our lives.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 NIV) (798) Here Paul is telling us that we have gained access to God’s Grace through Faith. It is in this Grace that we now stand. Imagine God filling our sanctuary with His Grace, and He puts you down right in the middle of it. It’s all around you, above, below, left, right, behind you and in front of you. Imagine yourself in that Grace “bubble” as you walk out the door. It surrounds you as you drive down the road. That is the way it actually is! You are surrounded by God’s Grace all the time, and there is no escaping it. (King David said:) Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139:7-19 (NIV)) (445)
And what is it that has placed us in this position? “Grace, grace, God’s Grace that will pardon and cleanse within”  and nothing else. God’s Grace keeps us in His Grace. Do you remember the short meanings of Mercy and Grace? Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. Paul knew he didn’t receive what he deserved and did receive what he didn’t deserve. Look at Ephesians 2:1-9 and see how it applies to us. As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:1-9 (NIV) (825)
We were saved by Faith, through God’s Grace, because of His great Love for us. God’s Grace flows from God’s love for us. He decided to bless us through His Grace because of His Love. Our Faith grows to a point of Salvation and God’s Justifying Grace saves us from our sin. And delivers us to the Grace in which we now stand. Paul knew this Mercy and Grace well and knew well how they worked.
Saul had set out to destroy the Body of Christ, but through God’s Mercy Saul wasn’t devoured by fire, he was saved through Grace, and given a second chance he didn’t deserve. Paul knew this very well. Look at how the Letter to the Romans begins Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1-6 (NIV)) (795)
Paul knows that he received God’s Grace to become an Apostle so that he could spread the message of the Gospel of Christ. And through that message every one of us sits here in and by God’s Grace. We are surrounded by God’s Grace, surrounded by God’s Love. It lives in every one of the people sitting by you, it lives in you.
Bostwick UMC 10/4/20
 Swindoll, Charles R.. Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit (Great Lives Series) . Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition, Location 1709
 United Methodist Hymnal p 365
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