Sufficient Grace Part 3

While studying sufficient grace, an interesting question has arisen. In the following verses, was Paul simply bitching and complaining, or was he genuinely looking for answers to a problem?

2 Corinthians 12:7-9
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I learned something about these verses this morning that I didn't know. It's so basic and fundamental that I simply can't believe I've never seen it before. The grace of God was sufficient for Paul, and it's sufficient for us too, but what exactly is grace referring to here?

Until now, for some reason or other, I've simply assumed that the grace of God was part of his charming personality, you know, an adjective describing God's nature. God is gracious, yes, and grace is part of his personality, but the grace of God is also used as a noun in reference to the gift of holy spirit which we received by the grace of God.

Romans 5:15
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

By God's grace we received the gift, but the gift itself is also referred to as the grace of God.

1 Corinthians 1:4
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

2 Corinthians 6:1
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

When we are born again, we don't literally receive that part of God's personality which is gracious, that would be absurd. His personality is his own, and part of his nature is to be gracious. We don't receive that part of God, we receive his gift which he gives us by his grace. These two verses therefore are using the grace of God as nouns in reference to the gift of holy spirit.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Grace here isn't referring to a bit of God's personality and nature being sufficient for us, it's referring to the gift of holy spirit. It is the gift of holy spirit that makes us sufficient. When we are in situations that seem overpowering, the gift of holy spirit, God's grace is sufficient to overcome them. That's what Paul learned, and that's why when he allowed the power of Christ to rest on him by energising that gift he was never whipped again. Here's an example of that.

Acts 22:24-29
The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou a Roman? He said, Yea.

And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born.

Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him: and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

This is the Administration of the Age of Grace. Hey, God's been gracious since Genesis. He was gracious in the Patriarchal Administration, he was gracious in the Law Administration, and he was gracious in the Christ Administration. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, he never changes, so why are those administrations not referred to as administrations of grace? It's because there was no gift of holy spirit. Grace therefore, when used in an administrational context is a noun that refers to the gift of holy spirit freely available to men today.

The grace of God is used both as an adjective to describe God's nature, and as a noun for the gift of holy spirit. The context in which it is used determines its meaning.

When Paul besought the Lord three times for a solution, he was told he already had the solution.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul didn't learn that God's charming personality was sufficient for him, he learned that the power in the Christ in him was sufficient for him. From that moment on, he energised the gift of holy spirit and let the power of Christ rest on him. That's why from then on he gloried in his infirmities. He knew he could overcome anything with the power in the gift of holy spirit. Well, so can we, and it's high time we energised the Christ in us and started living as children of the living God.

Paul couldn't have been complaining when he asked three times for a solution to his problems, because complaining doesn't bring answers, it brings consequences.

Psalm 77:1-4
I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

The psalmist describes here what happened when he bitched and complained. His spirit, his soul, his entire being was overwhelmed. He was so troubled, he couldn't even speak. Life swamped him and he sank into a morass of despondency. That's what happens when you bitch and complain.

Bitching and complaining carry consequences. If you bitch and complain, you will be overwhelmed, your life will be so dreary you won't even want to talk to anyone. What do we do instead of bitching and complaining? No need to guess, the word tells us.

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

If we think the word, we will have plenty to be thankful for. If we rein in our thoughts, if we keep our minds in the word, if we refuse to allow our thoughts to bitch and complain, we will avoid being overwhelmed. Let's go back to that psalm.

Psalm 77:5,6
I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

This guy who was so troubled he couldn't speak remembered when he once sang in the night, when he had songs in his heart. He spent long hours soul searching, but that didn't help, all it did was make him question his beliefs about God.

Psalm 77:7-9
Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?

Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?

Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

Bitching and complaining is not the way to go. Eventually the psalmist realised that and made the conscious decision to drag his thoughts back to the word.

Psalm 77:10-15
And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High
.

I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?

Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.

Bitching and complaining leads to being overwhelmed, it leads to being so troubled you can't even speak. That in turn leads to soul searching, which in turn leads you to question God in your heart and be tempted to hurl accusations in his face. It's a downward spiral that can break your integrity. The only way out of that swamp is to bring your thoughts back to the word.

2 Corinthians 12:7,8
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Most handle these verses by teaching that Paul bitched and complained, and that God told him to shut up and put up with it. How is that being more than a conqueror?

Romans 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Either we're more than conquerors through tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and sword, or we're not. God isn't the issue here, it's how we think, it's what we do with our minds.

Understanding this difference between complaining and talking things over with God is important. One will produce workable solutions while the other will overwhelm our souls and make us so troubled we can't speak.

Paul was getting beaten up and whipped everywhere he went, he asked for solutions and he was given the answer to his prayers. God's grace, the Christ in him was sufficient for him. From that time on, he was never whipped again. That's being a super conqueror, that's being sufficient in God's grace.

One day God gave Samuel an assignment. However, Samuel was a little unsure about how to do it, and rightly so.

1 Samuel 16:1-3
And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.

And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the LORD said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.

And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.

Saul knew that the kingdom was going to be taken from him and given to someone else.

1 Samuel 15:26-29
And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.

And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.

And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.

Saul also knew that for any new king to come along, Samuel would first have to anoint him with oil because that was how things were done.

1 Samuel 10:1
Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his [Saul's] head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?

1 Samuel 10:24
And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him [Saul] whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.

Samuel had anointed Saul as king. Samuel had also told Saul God had chosen another man to replace him and that the kingdom would be taken from him. Saul wasn't too pleased about that, so he had Samuel watched. Samuel knew he was being watched, and he also knew if he attempted to anoint another king, Saul would know about it and have him killed. So, Samuel had a problem with his assignment. He didn't know how to carry it out without being killed. Rather than bitch and complain, however, he went to God searching for a solution. Going to God searching for solutions to problems is not bitching and complaining.

Philippians 4:6,7
Be careful [full of care, anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Having your hearts and minds guarded by the peace of God is a little different to being overwhelmed and so troubled you can't even speak. When you have problems, which we all do, going to God for solutions is the way to go. Bitching and complaining is not the way to go. When you've finished bitching and complaining, the problems are still there, only now you're so troubled you don't even want to talk to anyone and you'll find yourself beginning to doubt your beliefs in God. Rather than bitching and complaining, talk things over with God and he will give you the solutions you need to overcome your problems. That's what Paul did. That's what Samuel did.

God didn't tell Paul to shut up and quit complaining, he gave him the solution to his problem. God didn't tell Samuel to shut up and quit complaining, he gave him the solution to his problem.

1 Samuel 16:13
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him [David] in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

I know from personal experience how easy it is to bitch and complain sometimes. Even now, while putting this teaching together, this is an issue for me. I spent the last 10 years looking after my father. I lived with him through his old age, made his meals, cleaned his house, took care of his car, did his garden, washed and changed his bed, hung out his laundry, took care of his prescriptions, and I even saved his life on a number of occasions. I was there when he had a heart attack. Off he went to hospital, had stents put in, and he was fine again. During those years I had to call paramedics on a number of occasions and they saved his life more than once.

When my father eventually died, he left his house to me. It was his house, and he gave it to me. He even signed a letter to that effect, telling the rest of the family I was to get his house. After his burial, his signed letter giving me the house was invalidated in the courts, and my wonderful sister is currently trying to steal my house from me. My future is uncertain. I can assure you, I have plenty to bitch and complain about, and I've done it. Guess what? My spirit was overwhelmed and I was so troubled I couldn't even speak. Trust me, the word is the truth.

Is God's grace sufficient for me? Yes, it is. Instead of bitching and complaining, I'm now energising the gift of holy spirit and believing for solutions. Look, the devil is the god of this world, and all he does is steal, kill and destroy. Jesus Christ came that we might have life and that we might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

As the thief, the devil will see to it that our children are bullied at school, and our women wind up in shit relationships and marriages that break their hearts. He will do everything he can to fuck our lives up, and he's good at it. The world is a shit place because it's run by a shit god and greedy men who lick his arse, so get used to it. The solution isn't to look at our problems and bitch and complain about them, it's to keep our thoughts on God. We are to go to God for solutions and when we do, we will have our answers. Now read this next verse with this understanding.

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

See, being sufficient in all things isn't dependent on God doing everything for us, it's dependent on us energising the gift of holy spirit. The kind of life we live isn't up to God, it's up to us. We determine the quality of our lives, not God.

Do we want to be superconquerors or not? Do we want to live the more abundant life or not? If so, it's time we quit crying our eyes out and bitching about life, go to the word for our answers and start kicking the shit out of our problems as children of the living God.

Chapter 10 - Then