Friday, 4 February 2011

A Work of Sovereign Grace

A Work of Sovereign Grace

“Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them…” (Rom 12:6-8 AMP)

In the previous Truth for the Journey we looked at the difference between being called and appointed. Today we are going to be looking at the “grace” needed for that “appointment.” Chiefly looking at the life of Paul the Apostle, we see that he too needed grace to do what He was appointed to do. So to begin with the most important fact to remember is that the “call-of-God” is actually a working of His “sovereign-grace” (sovereign – because it is His choice to make and His alone!) In other words, God does not always call the most likely or the most naturally talented! In fact His choosing is rarely ever popular and all mystery concerning His “calling” or “election,” can only be answered within the very heart of God! (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29).

However as our opening scripture sates and as the NIV continues it says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).

A major weakness concerning our “gift-discernment” tends to have been our lack of understanding concerning the “responsibility” that is involved in our election. In this respect then, natural talents don’t add up to much when answering the specific “call of God!” This is where stewardship comes into it, as we see Paul mentioning here in 1 Peter 4: 10 “As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God's many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favour].” Granted this is a bit of a mouthful in the Amplified and is perhaps better when more simply put, as here in the Authorised Version, “…as every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (KJV).

Nevertheless we see in both these respected versions of the bible the use of the word “steward.” God has simply called us to be “good-stewards” of His grace (authority and ability). Notice we are not stewards of just “anything” - but specifically of His “grace.” To help us define this word “steward” a little better, let me say the following: the biblical doctrine of stewardship defines a man’s relationship to God. It identifies God as owner and man as manager. God makes man His “co-worker” in “administering” all aspects of our life. The apostle Paul explains it best by saying, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor 3:9). This helps us to better evaluate our position in this life.

In essence then, stewardship defines our purpose in this world - as assigned to us by God himself. It is our divinely given opportunity to join with God in His worldwide and eternal redemptive movement (Matt 28:19-20). In truth stewardship is not God “taking” something from us; rather it is His method of bestowing His richest gifts upon His people.

In addition to this, I suggest that the following words best describe this concept of “stewardship” as seen in scripture: manager, foreman, guardian, governor, procurator and administrator (see Gal 4:1-2 AMP). In fact we see this more contemporary word of “manager” specifically in the “God’s Word Translation” of the Bible where it says, “Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others” (1 Peter 4:10). Clearly then, our faithfulness in managing God’s affairs exceeds the traditional boundaries of just managing finances correctly or faithfully paying our tithes and offerings! Paul likens his own calling to that of an “administrator” or “steward” of God’s grace. He viewed God like the master of a great household who wisely administrated His affairs through Paul - an obedient servant of Jesus Christ (see Eph 3:2 & 1 Cor 9:17).

To continue with our focus on “grace” however it is important to notice how often this word “grace” is actually used by Paul in the scriptures: “…the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus” (Rom 15:15); “They recognised the grace given to me” (Gal 2:9); “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me…” (Eph 3:7); “Assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace (His unmerited favour) that was entrusted to me [to dispense to you] for your benefit” (Eph 3:2 AMP).

I believe that Paul constantly referred to “the-grace-given-to-me,” simply because he was overcome by the fact that God had not only put “grace” into his life, but more specifically “a-grace” into his life. There is a difference! And the specific “grace” that God had given to Paul literally controlled and directed his entire life. We see this clearly in Romans 12:3 where he says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you…”

Incidentally - speaking by the grace God had given to him – did not refer to a special eloquence of speech! No! But something far more potent – which was the very “authority” of God! Gracious speech had nothing to do with it; but the “authority-by-which-he-spoke” was the key. The grace of God (refers also to the gift of God) which was given to Paul for his life and ministry – that also warranted him the authority he needed to administrate on God’s behalf. Therefore grace can quite simply be seen as the “authority” and the “ability” of God in our lives. Given to us to benefit others and to “manage” God’s affairs on His behalf...

Finally, this was Paul’s motivation. He knew what the grace was. He identified the grace within his own life. He understood that he was both called “by-grace” and called “into-grace.” The authority and the ability of God were with him, to achieve God’s purpose through him. And it is with this in mind that we must also refer this to our own lives. The grace of God and the gift of God go hand in hand. His authority and His ability work together. Continually through scripture we witness this as the words “gift” and “grace” are always closely linked throughout the New Testament, as seen in the following scriptures:

• Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms (1 Pet 4:10).

• To each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it (Eph 4:7).

• And gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will (Heb 2:4).

• Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (1 Cor 12:7).

• There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit (1 Cor 12:4).

In closing most of the spiritual “gifts” are for the Body and this is why they can be referred to as the Body gifts. Examples of these are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. However while there are general gifts for the Body, there are also specifically gifted individuals to the Body (See 1 Corinthians 12: 27-31, or Ephesians 4:7-13). In other words there are callings and gifting and then there are specific “offices” that hold a specific governing authority and ability. All as God wills it according to His Master plan and His glory!

In the next “Truth for the Journey” we will continue our look into the proper function of grace. I trust you will be back here with me shortly - to complete this journey together.

Father I thank You that You have equipped Your Body well. We have Your authority and we have Your ability to do what You have called us to do. Father continue to equip my life, teach me Your ways that I may always be found faithfully serving You. Let my life fit within Your purposes and plans. Help me constantly yield myself to You, in and through Jesus Name. Amen.

Father I am assured and know that [You being a partner in my labour] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for me who loves You and is called according to [Your] design and purpose. I am confident in Your ability in me. I rest in Your authority and power. I lean not upon my own understanding. I trust Your ways in and through my life. I understand that Your purposes don’t just benefit me, but others also. My life is at Your disposal. I am available for You to use as You will. Hallelujah! (Rom 8:28)


Motto: ‘God Chooses, then the Spirit Tests, but You Must Respond!’

Copyright 2011 © Alan Pateman Ministries


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