Enabling Grace of God (1)

Every child of God is saved by the grace of God (Eph 2: 8-9), and God is going to take delight in the ages to come in the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7). There are two good definitions of this grace: “God’s riches at Christ’s expense,” and “God’s favor toward those who deserve the opposite.” These two definitions fit many of the occurrences of the word “grace.”

Now I want to write about the enabling grace of God. The same grace of God that saved us is “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12, KJV). When Barnabas had come to Antioch, “and had seen the grace of God, he was glad”(Acts 11:23, KJV). He saw what the grace of God had done in the changed lives of the Christians at Antioch. The enabling grace of God is a supernatural supply of strength from God.

Grace in Trial

Peter wrote his first epistle especially to help suffering saints. Grace is 10 times in 1 Peter, more than in any other epistle after Ephesians. Every child of God is welcome at the throne of grace. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16, KJV).

At one time there were only two books (besides the Bible) that might be found in a Christian’s home, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Fox’s Book of Martyrs. Some saints have thought that they could never have enough grace to become a martyr, but God only gives grace when we need it: “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut 33:25, KJV).

I had the privilege of being in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Jones in Girard, Ohio. Mrs. Jones had told a neighbor that, if a criminal came to her house with a gun, she would faint. One day three criminals trying to escape realized the police were closing in and drove up the Jones’ driveway. The home was soon surrounded by police officers and others. The youngest member of the gang guarded Mr. & Mrs. Jones. Some hours later they surrendered. All the time that they were in captivity Mrs. Jones didn’t faint, but she and her husband were preaching the gospel to them. When the people learned what the Joneses had gone through, they were amazed that they did so well.

Grace in Sacrificial Giving

There are four examples of giving in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. The actual giving of those in Macedonia was a real encouragement for others to give (2Cor 8:1-5). Paul wanted the Corinthians to know of “the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2Cor 8: 1-2, KJV). There are two other examples that should affect our giving; the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s unspeakable gift (2Cor 8:9; 2Cor 9:15).

The late brother Clifford Hope (missionary to St. Kitt’s) was in Hardwick, Vermont for a Lord’s Day. He told me he laid aside a certain percentage of his weekly pay for the Lord, and out of it, he gave to the assembly collections. One time he had some left over and he asked the Lord what he should do with it. Into his mind came a brother in business. At first, he thought, “He doesn’t need it; he is doing well in business.” But the more he prayed about it, the more the Lord impressed him that he should give it to this brother. So he put some paper money in an envelope, went to the brother’s home, slipped the envelope underneath the door, rang the doorbell, and ran away.

A short time later, the Lord allowed him to learn why he had exercised him to do that. That brother came over to him and said, “Brother Hope, I had an unusual experience I would like to share with you. Before I got saved, I borrowed money from as many people as I could, and I never intended to pay any of them back if I could get away with it. Once I got saved, I knew that was wrong so I’ve been trying to pay off those old debts.

“A couple of weeks ago I was coming home with my week’s pay in my pocket when I met a man from whom I had borrowed money and never paid it back. I went across the street and paid him what I owed him. The man almost broke down in tears. He said ‘I gave up hope a long time ago that I’d ever see that money again!’ I told him unless God saved me and changed my life, you never would have seen it again. But ever since the Lord saved me, I’ve been trying to pay off these old debts. And I told him how God saved me.

“When I got home I told my wife what had happened. There was rent money due that day. We counted up all our money and found we had just enough money for the rent, but no money for food till next payday.” (Most of us could do without food for a week, but it wouldn’t be easy to have their two small children crying for hunger!)

His wife said, “Well, we’re saved now. Our heavenly Father will take care of us.” That satisfied him, so he paid the landlady and told her, “that’s the last money we’ve got till next payday.” The landlady knew that they didn’t have a refrigerator to store food so she asked, “What are you going to do for food till next payday?” He told her what his wife said. The landlady said, “What do you think God is going to do? Do you think He’s going to open up heaven and send you food straight down from heaven?”

That stunned him. He went back to his wife and told her what the unsaved landlady said. “Brother Hope, we just got down on our knees at the divan and told the Lord we would need money for food between now and next payday, and we committed ourselves to our heavenly Father’s care. We just got up off our knees and the doorbell rang. I went to the door and there was no one there. I looked down and there was an envelope with just enough money in it to keep us going until next payday.” Brother Hope never told him who put it there; but he said, “that strengthened my faith. If God could make me give that brother that money when I didn’t think he needed it, He could take care of me in the St. Kitt’s of the West Indies.”