The Apostle Paul began each of his letters to churches by speaking grace and peace to the churches. For example, he said to the church in Corinth, ‘Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’(1 Cor. 1:3) This frequent greeting was Paul’s way of undergirding and reinforcing the doctrine, value, and position of grace for the believer under the New Covenant. He reminded the Jews that they were no longer under the law. He reminded pagans that they were no longer multi-theistic worshippers of idols. He reminded them all that they were filled with everything they needed to live a life in Christ. Then he would go on to teach, instruct, correct, and admonish those same believers.
I am drawn to 1 Cor. 1:4, 5 where Paul, after greeting the church with ‘grace and peace’ expands upon what that means to them. The Amplified Bible does a great job of bringing fullness to this expansion. “I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus. So that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech (to speak of your faith), and complete knowledge and illumination (to give you full insight into its meaning).” Paul says that grace was bestowed on them. It was a gift. It was supernatural favor and blessing received by faith upon believing in their hearts that Jesus was truly the son of God and savior for all who would believe. To ‘bestow’ means ‘to present as a gift’. They didn’t do anything to earn or deserve it. It was presented as a gift, received when they believed in their hearts, an act of faith at the deepest level.
Paul then goes on to describe very succinctly the consequence of receiving that gift……. First, they were ‘enriched, in full power and readiness of speech’. Grace comes backed with the full power of the throne room of God, and gives a readiness and acuity to speak your faith and speak by faith. The NIV Bible says it this way “enriched in every way!” You (a leader, a pastor, a church member, a new believer) have already been enriched in every way with the full power of God! Wow! You are ready, aware, and dialed in to speak forth your faith IN JESUS with power, authority and assurance of Truth.
Paul then says the Corinthians have ‘complete knowledge and illumination’ of the meaning of grace as the gift of God bestowed through Jesus Christ. They had power, knowledge, readiness, and insight by grace. This was the imputed righteousness and holiness that only Jesus could bring to them. However, we read later on in 1 Corinthians that many in the church were divisive, boasting, immoral, cheating, disorderly in worship, and on and on.
How can this be? It can be because many in Corinth had not fully embraced grace as the transforming power that the Father had offered. They had not completely opened the gift! It still had wrapping paper and packaging partially covering it. Many had embraced grace as not as enrichment but as entitlement……entitled to do whatever they felt like doing. Paul said ‘everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial’ (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). Grace permits us to make a choice…halleluiah! It is a choice to completely unwrap the gift!! It is our choice to embrace the fullness of grace, the fully imputed power and readiness of faith. We have the marvelous choice of fully receiving imputed enrichment in us, so that there is enrichment departing from us!
This Christmas season take the wrapping and packaging off of grace. Fully open and receive this gift. Choose to receive and embrace the enrichment, power, readiness, knowledge and insight of the Father’s gift. It’s His complete gift!
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