On the theme of 'more than' I was at a bible study on discipleship last night (if you want to follow this at home you can download the material by following the 'Navigators' link on the 'Bible and teaching' page at http://www.westaucklandcc.net/ ) and one of the areas we were looking at was that of 'grace'. What a liberating concept - actually a reality, not just a concept! To be given something wonderful, something that no money can ever buy or no worldly position ever secrue - for free. Something we 'so don't deserve'..... One of the problems with this is that 'humanly' or 'rationally' it just seems too good to be true, too easy, so the enemy soon pops into the picture and begins to persuade you that it isn't true, it is 'too good' and you really need to do more to deserve it! But of course that really is what is 'so amazing about grace' - you don't and never will deserve it but God gives us stuff anyway. Grace is variously described as an 'unmerited gift' , 'divine favour' , 'undeserved blessing' and so on.
The bible creates what can only be described as a 'virtuous circle':
Ephesians 2:7-9 (New International Version)
.....in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 5:1-3 (New International Version)
Peace and Joy
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
So, we have gained access to grace through faith (Rom 5) but that very faith is itself a gift of God's grace (Eph 2).
We are given grace to have the faith to enter more deeply into grace - this grace in which we now stand.
Anyway, back to the study - it dawned on me as we read the bible that in His grace God has far more to give us :
a) than we understand
b) than we are ready to accept
(us not being ready doesn't mean we are waiting on God it means He is waiting on us!)
In other words God wants to give us far more than we receive and God wants to show us far more than we are prepared to see and God wants to move us far more quickly than we are often prepared to travel...... because He is gracious He will not force us, but let's not be fooled into thinking that somehow we are hanging around waiting for God...that is rarely if ever true. God is way out ahead, giving more, revealing more, calling us more urgently. I guess an analogy to the way we so often treat the grace of God is that of turning up at our own birthday party to find that our parents or loved ones have got us the most unexpected, lavish, 'over the top' gift and we can hardly believe it, so rather than accept it, be grateful for it, enjoy it to the full and make maximum use of it we say 'could I just have a little of it please, the timing isn't right, I'll get the rest when I am ready'..... Why would you do that?
God grace is just such a gift - almost unbelievable spiritual riches, resources and most importanntly, an intimate relationship with Him that cannot be earned, cannot be entered by works but is based purely on His love for us. So, are there areas in our lives where we are closing ourselves off to the fullness of his grace? Let the Holy Spirit speak to each of us about this and may our eyes and hearts be opened to the genorosity of our God and may He give us an urgency and desire to be where He is, not simply stay within the constraints we place upon ourselves.
Ephesians 1:18 (New International Version)
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,