The Grace of God Abounds Exceedingly

“And the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:14). Not only does the grace of God abound, it abounds exceedingly. Two English words translate one Greek word (‘huperpleonazo’) which means “to overflow; to possess in excess” (Thayer). A similar and oft quoted passage was written to the church at Ephesus: “For by grace have ye been saved though faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory’ (Eph. 2:8-9). The first verse quoted was written to Timothy as he labored in the city of Ephesus. The second verse quoted was written to the church in that same city. Both verses hold out hope for any man or woman who has become burdened with sin. Many a man has hung his head in shame and uttered two words that never need to be uttered by mortal tongue: “No hope!” Grace holds out hope for those captured by the wiles of the devil. When life seems unbearable because of the burden of sin and shame, there is always hope. This is because there is always exceedingly abundant grace that is offered by the Father and His Son. Speak the words softy: “The grace of God abounds!”

“Saved by grace!” These words have been the center of controversy for as long as I can remember. Denominational theologians, and in recent years some of our own brethren, have suggested that man is saved solely on the basis of grace; that no man can “contribute one whit to his salvation.” This of course is false, on the very surface of it. One need simply take a look at the numerous passages which lay at the feet of each and every individual the responsibility to act on that which he has come to know and believe (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Cor. 5:10; Phil. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:7-9). If man plays absolutely no role whatsoever in his salvation, then all men must eventually be saved for “the grace of God hath appeared unto all men” (Titus 2:11).

Yes, the doctrine of salvation by grace has been abused, maligned, and perverted. Men have clothed the heavenly prospect of grace in the filthy rags of human tradition. Like other passages that have been tortured by the doctrines of men (2 Pet. 3:16), the doctrine of God’s grace has been torn from its context and made to mean something God never intended. But we must avoid the temptation to swing too far in the other direction while attempting to make a correction toward center. Balance demands the recognition of both parties involved in salvation, namely the divine and human sides of salvation. When we speak of God’s grace, we are speaking of the divine side of salvation. Someone has said, “Grace is that quality of God which gives us what we do not deserve while mercy is that quality which does not give us what we do deserve.” God saves us by grace, not by obligation. The only obligation that God has to save man is that obligation that is self imposed. He is not obligated by outside forces. What you or I do in compliance to God’s commands does not in any way obligate God, or place Him in debt to us. But since He has promised that He will save those who believe and obey, He has placed upon Himself the obligation to follow through on His promises. What great comfort there is in knowing that we serve a God Who never lies, and Who always keeps His promises. There is great consolation in knowing that we do not have to depend upon our own self righteousness to make it to heaven. Were that the case, then quite frankly, none of us would ever see so much as the shadow of that heavenly portal upon which we have set our hopes and our hearts. The key here is this little word “depend.” It is a matter of in what or in Whom we place our trust and confidence. It is summed up in the word “faith.” Paul clearly states that we are saved by grace, through faith. Not faith only, any more than grace only. Faith that saves is faith that obeys. Obedient faith is the medium by which we gain access to the wonderful grace of God. Here is the human side of salvation. When the two are combined, the result is man’s salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we sing the words, “My Savior pardoned me and now I onward go; I know He’ll take me thro’ tho’ I am weak and poor,” we are speaking of God’s exceedingly abundant grace.

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