TWO COMMON TYPES OF GRACE - P4
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
We’re looking at two common types and measures of grace this week.
FIRST is the grace among Believers who receive physical blessings in their lives. God gives abundant grace with physical blessings to some for His purposes. We see Believers who are healed of terrible illnesses, rescued from impossible situations, and never experience poverty. Regarding wealth and abundance, Paul instructs “those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17) — these Believers were wealthy through God’s grace, not their own efforts, for all good things come from God.
Similarly, there were many healings of diseases, chronic illnesses, mental/spiritual conditions, injuries, and genetic defects recorded in the New Testament. This would be included under the blessings bestowed by God as grace. The Holy Spirit through Peter and John healed the lame beggar by the temple (Acts 3:1-8), but there were many other lame beggars in Israel who did not receive healing. This man received grace for the purposes of God.
In Jesus’ ministry, alone, thousands were healed in Israel — at least among those that were near enough to travel to see him, could afford to do so, or were in the right place at the right time. There were surely Jews in Greece and Rome suffering from illness and ailments! But God gave physical grace to those in Israel who happened to come in contact with Jesus, while many others did not and could not. Were they any less loved or approved by God? No. It was God’s unmerited grace that those who came in contact with Jesus found healing and restoration in the brief time He was here.
The SECOND type of grace involves spiritual blessings bestowed by God to endure physical hardships. He gives this grace to some – also for His purposes. We see believers who go through awful experiences but are able to bear them calmly and even joyfully. We marvel at how much of a testimony they are in situations we can hardly imagine.
In Peter’s letter to scattered believers, he reflects on our salvation and coming inheritance: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” (1 Pt. 1:5-6). Without God’s grace, it is impossible to rejoice in pain. Similarly, Paul makes the Church at Corinth aware of “the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord” (2 Cor. 8:1b-3). It seems the more affliction they suffered, the more joy they were given by God. And while they were made poor in the world, God gave them grace to overflow with generosity to the Saints. This was a good reminder for the Church at Corinth, which had been physically blessed by the grace of God, but had become conceited. The plight of the Believers in the churches of Macedonia was not because they were weaker believers with less faith than the church at Corinth. Paul is reminding them that God’s grace is unmerited and comes to each of us differently.
God gives His grace according to His purposes in our lives, which may be different than His purposes for our Believing neighbor. The grace He bestows is for His own glory and each of our eternal good. Behind this mortal veil, we don’t always understand why things are the way they are, but if we believe the Scriptures, we know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28b). Even so, Amen. (Next, we’ll look at a third type of grace).