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)
Part Three: Grace Creates Christian Assurance
…but the grace of God with me.
The third aspect of the grace of God in this verse is that of a relationship. The word “with” in the original language is a preposition that one scholar has called the “aristocrat among all the prepositions” because it is so rarely found in the New Testament (Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament). It suggests closeness, partnership, assistance, and sharing. The grace that provided Paul a way to view his past, to understand his calling in ministry, and empowered him to expend enormous effort in his ministry was also a grace that stayed with him, deeply embedded in his soul. It was therefore a source of great confidence and assurance to Paul, knowing that the grace of God, the source of such magnificent power and security, was indeed a partner with Paul in his ministry of service to the churches of the Lord Jesus. The presence of this grace is described in a relational sense—as if a lifelong partner that could always be counted on to be present in life, and powerfully engaged in the ministry Paul did.
Grace works the same in my life, and the life of every follower of Jesus. I can count on it to be there through thick and thin, through difficulties, through days of clarity and inspiration (rare as they seem!) and the long, lonely, nights that regularly follow. Grace will not leave, and will provide the enabling power needed to accomplish every good thing, along with the emotional, spiritual assurance that I regularly crave as I make my way through this life. As I reflect on this role of grace in our lives, it seems to me that our biggest challenge is our not uncertainty as to whether or not a thing called “grace” exists from God, for us. Rather, the challenge seems instead to be our hesitancy in actually choosing to act as if we believe we possess such a thing as grace. Further, we are challenged to live in confidence that the grace we possess will truly be as wonderful, permanent, and powerful to us as it was for Paul the apostle, who threw himself headlong into a life of ministry and service, confident that the grace of God would see him through. The very nature of grace is that it is powerful, and permanent, and actually re-creative of our lives.
Is there any reason for you and I to fear that such grace could fail us in our day of need?