What is the application of God's grace in each of the two aspects? I think it's important first to look at the two arenas of spiritual life. One, being the event of salvation, or spiritual birth. The other, being the process of sanctification, or spiritual growth.
In salvation, God's grace is seen in the long-used acrostic of God's Riches At Christ's Expense. It is all of God, in that there is nothing my sinful heart can ever do to redeem myself from my estranged state. But God so loved the world, that He sent Christ to pay for my sins. In this way, both justice and mercy were executed. It is God's grace that saves, through faith, giving a clear picture of Christ in me, my hope of glory, to the world. (Colossians 1:27)
In sanctification, God's grace is seen as in the acrostic of God's Resources At Crisis Encounters. As various life difficulties are encountered, God has taught me, in James 1, that I can count it all joy with the knowledge that the trying of my faith works patience. It is as I draw near to God, James goes on to say in chapter 4, that God draws near to me. It is as I, in my impatience, snuggle close to His heart, that His divine attribute of patience begins to be seen in the character of my life. It is as I recognize and reverence the reality of His Sovereignty over the difficult things, that I will rest totally and completely on the inalterable fact that His ways are perfect, that His thoughts of me are for peace, not evil. (Psalm 18:30, Jeremiah 29:11). The joy of the Lord will be my strength (Nehemiah 8:10), and when the world questions my "ability" to manage great trials, I can give a reason of the hope that lies within me, and thus glorify God. (1 Peter 3:15).
And so, as an obedient, growing believer, my life engages both the saving and the sustaining grace of God. The saving grace was at the event of salvation; the sustaining grace is available on a repetitive and continuing basis every moment of every day.
I know that Paul, in a very difficult circumstance of life, according to 2 Corinthians12:9, sought relief and removal of the trial. God's response to that request was the promise that His grace would be sufficient for every need, and that His strength would be made perfect in Paul's weakness. Paul's response rings loud and clear in the verses that follow. It was simply "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
How marvelous, the GRACE of God!
(C) 1992, 2014 N. A. Collins
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