Ryan is the international lead facilitator of Student Volunteer Movement 2 and currently lives among the unreached.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “grace”? For most believers it is the idea of God’s unmerited favor and mercy – His love being poured out upon me who am so undeserving of receiving it.
My salvation being accomplished and secured through nothing I could ever do but through the tortuous death and resurrection of the unblemished God-Man. Generally when grace is spoken of in the church today this is the concept that is being communicated.
Yet the Scriptures use this particular meaning of the term less then half of the times that it is spoken. So what is the other side of “grace”? What is the meaning that we hear so little about and why is it so critical for those interested in responding to God’s call to reach the world for Christ in our lifetime?
After we come into relationship with God through Christ we undoubtedly come up against severe tests and hardships to continuing to walk in this newfound faith. We come face to face with our sinful nature which, through Christ, is wiped out and all things made new, yet in practice is still in need of daily being crucified.
It becomes clear quickly that our own striving and trying to be Christ-like leaves us failing every time. It is at this point that we either embrace this other side of God’s “grace” or we potentially start the painful process of shipwrecking our faith through self-effort which is the epitome of the religious spirit which Jesus so radically condemned.
His “grace” is the unveiling of His power, enabling and anointing upon us to love Him faithfully, find victory over habitual sin and serve Him selflessly bringing forth the greatest fruitfulness possible.
Not by any power or goodness of our own, but by completely renouncing attempts to rely on such things in ourselves, and receiving His power and enabling to victoriously go on.
This “grace” is the absolute essential in order to be effective as a true worshipper, to pursue holiness, and to be useful as God’s Message Bearer. It is only Christ’s all-powerful blood that can overcome habitual sin.
Don’t try to do it on your own – you will fail miserably. At the same time don’t minimize sin, its darkness and God’s hatred of it as a way to feel better about yourself for not overcoming.
This empowering, enabling or anointing (can be substituted for the term grace often in the Scripture) is something that we all need more of consistently.
Giving it to us is the work of the Holy Spirit as we understand our great need of it, embrace our nothingness and utter weakness apart from God’s empowering, and press in more and more deliberately to the heart of God to lay hold of it.
It is the added “other” that is the indispensable component of bringing forth spiritual fruit. True spiritual authority is never natural. No human being can be used to influence another toward lasting spiritual breakthrough or freedom without the empowering, enabling and anointing of the Spirit.
Some believe that all Message Bearers and believers in general have this enabling, empowering and anointing upon them as a result of coming to Christ.
It is true that they have access to it and it is their inheritance in Christ, but many in the Church today do not operate in the empowering I am writing about. Many are actually afraid of it or shy away from it.
As a result they move forward trying to love Him and serve Him in their own strength and capacity instead of submitting and yielding to the prescribed ways that He has set forth in the Scripture to do so.
I have been provoked of late by Philippians 3:12. I want the fullness of “laying hold of that which Christ has also laid hold of me.” This refers to many levels of inheritance through Christ which He has already “laid” hold of through His work on the cross and subsequent resurrection.
One primary one is His power and anointing that is ever ready to be given to those who are hungry for it and align themselves in obedience to God to receive it. This passage is stunning in that Paul himself is saying “I press on…”
This is the greatest Message Bearer that ever lived, the man who was entrusted with some of the most profound revelation that anyone had ever heard, yet he declares “I don’t have enough! I need more power and more “grace” to be faithful to love God and to serve God!”
What is it that God’s empowering and anointing enables His true disciples to do? First, it helps us to love God purely, rightly and deeply and to keep going after more of this love when we think we might have somehow exhausted our capacity to love.
God is Spirit and it is impossible in our natural person to worship spirit. We need the Spirit of God to love God. His empowering and anointing enables our spirits to enter into the Spirit realm to love Him fully with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength.
As we grow in this enabling and we continue to ask Him for more of it, He responds and increases the measure of enabling based on how faithful we have been previously to the measure He already gave. His empowering of us is the key to loving Him in greater dimensions then we do presently.
In saying this some might hear that I am actually providing an excuse to thus sit back and wait for Him to provide it. The reality, however, is that He has already provided it and so it is our responsibility to purposely pursue it as He will not give it to those who are flippant.
He requires a hunger and seriousness about laying hold of it. I want to provoke us to hunger and thirst for more of the empowering and anointing of the Spirit upon our hearts to love Him more. Ask Him with fervency for this. Give Him no rest! He will answer if you are pure in your pursuing.
Second, God’s empowering and anointing enables us to love others and manifest the fragrance and meekness of Jesus to an unrighteous, dark and self-absorbed world filled with those who presently are opposing God. The ability to do this is totally foreign to human nature.
It is only through Jesus loving others through us that we can ever hope to serve Him in this capacity. Thankfully this is exactly what He does when we receive His empowering and anointing for ministry.
We don’t have enough wisdom, training, practice, eloquence, kindness, cultural understanding or authority in ourselves to move anybody towards God. But allowing God to do this through you is the receiving of the “grace” we are talking about.
So many try to influence others through hype, personality, flash, appearing professional and so many other mirages. What we need to be the salt and light that He has called and ordained us to be is increasing measures of the empowering and anointing of God’s Spirit.
The Scripture declares that it is God’s presence (another translation says anointing) that breaks the yoke and enables people to walk in greater levels of faith and spiritual maturity. Let’s not be content with the latest fad or trend in ministry but in the empowering and anointing that He alone gives.
If you’re a Message Bearer or preparing to become one don’t be as concerned with the development of a great strategy for your work. Instead be primarily concerned about laying hold of the greatest measure of the empowering and anointing of the Spirit for the work He has called you to do.
Then commit yourself for the long haul to be a person who trusts and relies daily on God’s enabling and empowering for fruitfulness.
Friends, there is a great cost to NOT having this “grace” in our lives and ministry. Some speak of the cost of this lifestyle, yet it seems to me that the greater cost is neglecting it (not only personal cost but additional cost to kingdom effectiveness).
Some have built solid and effective ministries based upon God’s initial empowering and enabling only to at some point get self-sufficient and cease to lean entirely on Him. This is what King Saul did in the Old Testament.
God enabled and anointed him in his early years as king but later he fell into idolatrous sin and the “grace” of God was stripped from him.
He then was left to manage this kingdom that had been built without the empowering and anointing of God; an impossible, painful and stressful experience that God never intended him to walk in and that negatively affected those within the kingdom.
David, however, later led the kingdom as king with a deep trust in God and receiving His daily empowering. This supernatural enabling was the great “other” that under-girded his leadership and kept the kingdom intact and is one of the factors that made David so pleasing to God.
Let me encourage you to spend elongated seasons with Jesus asking, seeking and knocking in order to receive more of His empowering and anointing which enable us to love Him and serve Him at greater and greater levels.
Search your heart and surrender the areas of self-sufficiency to Jesus. Be willing to forsake these things and in their place receive by faith God’s empowering and anointing to do what He has called you to do.
It is His vision to bring forth a mountain of fruit in you and through you but He knows it will not be lasting fruit unless it originates from Him and is accomplished by His power at work in you.