Grace For Salvation, Service and Strength
Such was the Apostle Paul’s epitome of Christian life and service. Grace towards him. Grace on him. Grace with him.
Grace has been defined as “Unmerited free favour.” And it is this towards its objects who merited only judgment. Another has said of it, “Grace is the love of God working in the presence of evil.” Both were true in the apostle’s case.
Knowing all that we were in our sinful state and desperate need, God has come out in righteous grace.
The earlier verses of the chapter tell of the gospel—the-same gospel—which Paul calls “the gospel of the grace of God.” He, as Saul of Tarsus, was the full expression of what that
GRACE FOR SALVATION
in its exceeding abundance is able to do. As a proud, insolent, overbearing persecutor of Christ in His saints, he was met on the road to Damascus. Converted and commissioned there he became a pattern of what the grace of God could accomplish. From the lowest depths of evil to the heights of apostleship and testimony he was raised. Thus he rejoiced in being what the grace of God had made him. And so it is with Christians in all the centuries.
John Newton, the erstwhile “African Blasphemer,” was plucked as a brand from the burning. From the vilest degeneracy, from the very gutter of moral guilt he was lifted to the position of Christian poet and preacher and pastor. The grace of God reached even to him.
GRACE FOR SERVICE.
The same grace that cleared the sinner, Saul, commissioned him for the service of his Saviour. This grace, or free favour, for service was bestowed upon him and it was “not in vain,” he “laboured more abundantly than” all others. He spent his life in telling the story of salvation and in ministering to the needs of the saints whom he had sought to exterminate. In this instance it was grace for apostleship and distinct service of important character.
With us today this is not the case. And, yet grace for service has been bestowed upon each one—“To every man,” his work has been committed, and each of us should see to it that this grace is “not in vain.”
Privilege it is for each of us to carry the light of God in this world—by the word of mouth—by the tract—by the distribution of the Scriptures and in other ways to pass on to others what has been communicated to us.
Seek, then, the Master’s presence and learn from Him what form of service He would have you engage in. Then go on and “make full proof of” your ministry. Do not leave the work for others. You have your niche, fill it. You have your mission, perform it. You have your service, fulfil it.
The words of the apostle to Archippus, echo down the years to us, “Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it” (Col. 4:17). Those words were written for you and for me, as well as for Archippus.
Finally we find
GRACE FOR STRENGTH
in our verse. “Yet not I but the grace of God which was with me.” It was not his own power which enabled him to serve so continuously and eventually to lay down his life in martyrdom. It was the constant, unchanging supply of the grace of God. So we hear of Paul declaring what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by him. He was but an instrument in the hand of God for His service.
What can a set of carpenters’ tools do as they lie in the bag? Nothing. But what can a competent carpenter do through them? So our God chooses to pick up this one and that one for varied forms of service for the carrying out of His gracious purposes of grace.
It is for us to be ready for His use—“prepared unto every good work.”
Let us remember
1. That it is “the true grace of God in which we stand” (1 Pet. 5.12).
2. That to “Every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7).
3. He “giveth more grace” day by day for the fulfilling of His will (Jas. 4:5).
In the strength He affords we may be efficient servants while we wait for the hour when the topstone of glory shall be placed with shoutings of “Grace, grace unto it.”