Saturday, December 5, 2009

1 Corinthians 15:10

12/5/09

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.- 1Corinthians 15:10

I have been studying 1 Corinthians for a few days. This verse in Chapter 15, I read this morning and it really spoke to me.
First, "by the grace of God I am what I am". I have heard it said(Spurgeon I think) that the Christian life is all of grace. This fact is so lost on us so very often. The Puritans got it and maybe that is why I love them so. Edwards taught so passionately that the only reason you are not engulfed in the fires of hell this very moment is because of God's grace. The only reason I don't wake up with a chronic pain, the only reason I have a family, the only reason I can read and write, the only reason I have a roof and a shirt, the only reason I have food in the kitchen, the only reason I have air to breath, the only reason I don't have cancer or AIDS, the only reason I have faith, the only reason I am saved, the only reason I love Jesus is because of grace. "But by the grace of God I am, what I am".

Second, "His grace toward me was not in vain." This text haunts me. This text looks me in the face and says "You have experienced so much grace, will it be in vain? Will all of the grace God has shown you end up for naught? Will you be like Judas and have experienced so much of Jesus and turn from Him? Will you be like the Jews who spent their life experiencing God's grace and deny/ignore/crucify the very Messiah you were looking for? Will God's grace towards me be in vain? I believe this is the "fear and trembling" Paul spoke of when he spoke of "work out your own salvation in fear and trembling".

Third(or 2nd(b) maybe), "On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them". Paul says "On the contrary". He says, "Nope, the grace shown to me was not in vain" The grace shown to me will not end up fruitless, the grace shown to me will not end up for nothing--it is not in vain. And the cool thing is how he knows. "I worked harder than any of them". Paul says that God's grace shown to Him will eventually lead to glorification and he knows it for a fact because he has worked harder than any of the others. At first glance this seems like Paul teaching that he has earned his salvation, his grace. This is why you do not glance at Paul, or Scripture. This is why you gaze at Paul. This is why you stare at Scripture. All the Apostle is teaching here is the fact that God's grace is proven present by how he lives out his life. Paul says "I know God has shown me grace because I can see it flowing out of me in my everyday life. Good works pour out of me because God has shown me grace-and if they didn't then that would surely mean that all the grace I had experienced had been in vain because I had not experienced saving grace. You know how I know all this, the very good works I am doing have been prepared for me and it is really just God doing them through me. The indwelling Holy Spirit is administering grace to others through me and that is how I know He is in me. And if I did not see the Holy Spirit working through me, then I would sincerely question whether He was in me."

The Christian life is all of grace. Salvation is by grace. Faith is given by grace. The new birth is by grace. And the evidence of salvation is the outflowing of the indwelling Holy Spirit who works through you, by grace. We cannot work our way to God-but we cannot be His and not do as He does. And it is all by grace.