THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD
Reading I Peter 1:6 recently during heavy trials the manifold temptations were noted; Having always read the word manifold as meaning many, it was determined to find and know the correct context and definition for manifold. The Greek word is poikilos, number 4164 in the Strong’s, with a Strong’s definition of motley, i.e. various in character. So not only are temptations numerous, but they are varied or assorted in type and kind. In studying this, the same use and translation of the word manifold was noted in I Peter 4:10 (these are the only two times poikilos is translated this way in the King James Version of the Bible, the other eight times it is translated divers);
I Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Understand then that the grace of God is not the same for every instance, but varied for each need! We have manifold temptations, but God provides manifold grace to deliver. Just as we would use differing means to battle differing natural disasters, God will provide the specific grace that is needed for each spiritual battle we fight if we truly seek Him for it and open ourselves to receive that grace. Sand bags are used against a flood, but would serve little or no purpose against an earthquake, wind, fire, or drought. Similarly, the grace needed to overcome sin and reconcile an individual to God is not the same grace needed to operate in a gift of the Spirit. What God also gave in reading this verse again was that we are asked to minister the gift of grace we have been given: we cannot hoard grace, but must allow Him to use us in grace. Similar to how we give things to our children, and then teach and tell them to “share” with the other children, God is exhorting us to share by ministering the precious gift of grace! But it is also a spiritual call to minister the gift, as noted by the inclusion of the phrase … as good stewards. Having received that grace is diverse, consider again the following;
I Corinthians 10:35 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
We have often read this verse to mean that we have choices, and can escape the temptation with the correct choice. But the verse says God … will … make a way to escape. God provides grace to enable you to escape (avoid, overcome, or bear) whatever temptation you face: but God does not bear it without you, you must yield and receive that grace. It is only your willfulness that prevents, resists, or cannot see what God provides. There is diverse grace to meet your every need for every diverse temptation, persecution, or ministry purpose in life! As Paul was told concerning his thorn in the flesh;
II Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
By the phrase … lest I be exalted above measure, Paul plainly understood afterwards that the thorn was grace to prevent a greater temptation. Not only is Paul told that the grace of Jesus is sufficient, but please note that Paul equates the sufficiency of that grace with the power of Christ. Please also understand that Paul freely embraced and gloried in that weakness, that the power of Christ might be upon him! Paul did not shun the frailty, but rejoiced over it, knowing that God is greater than the weaknesses if he gave them to Him! God will freely give us this gift of grace and power if we will walk with Him and ask for it! Grace freely received will abound more than sin;
Romans 5:20, 21 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Jesus Christ our Lord grace will abound and can reign through righteousness. Grace will not give us our own righteousness (which is as filthy rags per Isaiah 64:6) but the righteousness of God. It is only in hearing and receiving that grace, the impulse from the Head, that we may truly find the righteousness of God, anything less is unrighteousness! Although grace is not specifically included in this verse, see the similarity;
John 7:18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
Fully walking in the gift of the grace of God will seek His glory, and give us the righteousness of God, not our own unrighteousness! The English prefix un- means not, if it is not the righteousness of God it is un-righteousness. I John 5:17 says in part; All unrighteousness is sin. Paul plainly understood and declared in II Corinthians 12 above that the thorn in the flesh prevented him from seeking his own glory, so it kept him in the righteousness of God. So if we are walking in our own righteousness and not His, we are walking in sin. It is only by the gift of grace and by obedience that we can find His righteousness.
While I Peter 4:10 spoke of the gift, it did not specifically declare that grace itself was the gift: let us first confirm that grace is a gift;
Ephesians 2:8, 9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
We know then from these scriptures that grace is a gift of God. It would be easy for us to misunderstand where grace originates and attribute it to the Spirit, but grace came by Jesus;
John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
We are often exhorted to seek the truth (thy word is truth), and to seek the knowledge of Jesus who is the truth, but the grace and power are needed also. Grace has largely been considered an invisible intangible to the church, and it is not properly sought. That Jesus is the giver of this grace is confirmed by many scriptures, including Ephesians 4:7 above; for additional examples;
Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Romans 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
Grace must come from Jesus, because grace is part of salvation, the way, and there is none other name … given among men whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) There is no alternate way through the Spirit to reach the Father, but it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved. This is not contradictive in the scriptures. In a physical example, in construction the Owner determines what he wants, needs, desires, and what he will pay. It is then drawn, administered, and built by architects, engineers, contractors, project managers, and superintendents. Jesus brought about and provided grace and truth, and can administer that grace with and through the Spirit. The Spirit also leads and guides into all truth (Jesus) as well (John 16:8 – 13).
It might be easier for some to consider a military example: the king is responsible to equip the army, although he does not often go to the battle. King David looked to God for direction for the war, and then fully prepared for it as he was instructed, but the specific warfare was often led by Joab, captain of the host. Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, looks to the Father for His will and purpose, and provides the grace to those chosen to fulfill that will and purpose. The power of the Spirit then leads the hosts into the spiritual warfare. There is coming a day when Jesus will lead the hosts into the final battle of this warfare. Please consider further the differences of the tasks of these members of the Godhead;
I Corinthians 12:4 – 7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
So we see that in differing tasks, with perfect unity, the Spirit, the Word, and the Father order the warfare. We know also from these scriptures that beyond salvation there are differing gifts as by the Spirit, but as you read on through the ministry gifts in I Corinthians 12:8 – 10, there is no gift of grace listed, because differing grace is necessary for each gift;
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Here scripture notes that differing grace provides differing gifts, but prophecy is a gift of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:10)! Do you gain a further or greater understanding here that there is manifold or differing grace administered from Jesus for each ministry gift or call? Please consider and receive now a different perspective of the administration of the promise in Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Each individual has a specific call and purpose in God. Grace is given to enable us for, and to fulfill, that specific call and purpose if we will ask for, hear, yield, and receive that grace. You do not completely fulfill your call on your own (Look at Moses in the physical example: Acts 7:25 tells us Moses knew his calling to deliver the children of Israel, but until God met him at the burning bush he could not fulfill that call. Did the calling ever go away? It was forty years before the gift and presence of God enabled him to fulfill the call!).
Many question whether individuals are full of faith and of the Spirit because of the lack of the gifts and power, but it is the fruit of the Spirit that shows that the Spirit is present (Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.). If there is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:23, 24) we know that the Spirit is present and working in an individual. He dwelleth with you and shall be in you. If we recognize that the fruit is present, but the gifts are not in operation, the lack is in receiving or utilizing the grace from Jesus needed to enable us to accomplish the will and purpose of Almighty God!
In The Head Of The Church we discussed the physical example that the head of our bodies sends an electrical impulse through the nervous system to tell the leg, or hand, or finger to move or perform some purpose. In case that exhortation was not read yet, it bears repeating here that there is nothing random about that impulse, but it is a specific message with specific directions of how to move, which specific parts to move, how far, how fast, and for what specific purpose. While that electrical impulse does not make an audible sound, the body hears that message and obeys. That electrical impulse is not intangible, for it is clearly seen in each and every movement of our bodies. If that impulse cannot or does not reach the body parts, then those parts are immobile or paralyzed, and the lack of movement is also seen.
We then discussed that in the spiritual our God, through the Head of the spiritual body, the Lord Jesus Christ, sends a spiritual impulse or message to the body with the diverse grace necessary to call, equip, and enable us to the task or purpose we are called to. Many are paralyzed to the spiritual gifts today because they do not hear, receive, understand, or obey the impulse and the necessary grace that is freely sent from the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is thus considered intangible, or worse that we somehow are not in grace because we do not feel it. Because of that lack of hearing we see the same lack of spiritual movement as in the natural body part that is paralyzed. We often do not recognize the keeping grace of God that is active in our lives unless or until it is removed for some reason. In Spirit there is an assurance, a safety, a quietness, or a comfort in that grace that we do not always understand, acknowledge, or sometimes even feel the presence of. In a recent time of seeking God for great grace, and feeling that the heavens were as brass, I then also felt the absence of prior grace. The need for the fullness of that prior grace was realized in the thoughts, temptations, and attack of the enemy. In that time of feeling inadequate and exposed the grace of God was no longer intangible to me. In feeling that loss, or lack, of grace I fully recognized the grace that had been there, and no longer felt that it had somehow been missing. Jesus is FULL of grace (John 1:14), and freely gives it to us, and also provides grace for (because of, in the place or instead of, or in addition to) grace (John 1:16). The immediate return of that keeping grace is now known as the amazing blessing that it is, and God is to be praised, worshipped, exalted, and loved for it!
The devil hates the name of Jesus, and puts that hate in those serving him, and that can be filthiness of the flesh (II Corinthians 7:1). But if you have not allowed Jesus to be the Head, and you have failed to give Him the preeminence in all things, it is filthiness of the spirit noted in that same verse! Repent, return from your spiritual filthiness, give Him the preeminence and allow Jesus to be your Head, and to establish you in Him. Grace is only in Christ Jesus, do not miss it by filthiness of the spirit. As with the fruits being evidence of the presence of the Spirit, and as with the movement of the physical body being the evidence of the electrical impulse from the head, the gifts working in a life are evidence of the grace being present, and thus grace is not intangible: For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made … (Romans 1:20). Paul exhorts to covet earnestly the best gifts, and if we do, we are seeking the grace to enable the gifts. Scripture exhorts repeatedly for grace for the hearer, why do we not continually seek Jesus for more grace? Timothy was exhorted to be strong in that grace;
II Timothy 2:1 THOU therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
How could Timothy be exhorted to be strong in something he could not even perceive? Why would Timothy be asked to do something he had no control or part in? There was an action of receiving required by Timothy! Consider the first part of I Peter 4:10 again: As every man hath received the gift. You have nothing to give until you receive! We then have another call to action required to be strong in that grace: … even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Timothy was told to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. We know that our strengthening is in Jesus;
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
But we also know from what Paul was told in II Corinthians 12:9 that the grace of Jesus is sufficient for the strength that we need. That strengthening is by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Please note the difference in gifts, calling, and grace between the early church and the apostles in the following verses, which tell us that the early church were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and of the apostles that great power and … great grace was upon them all;
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
While verse 31 tells us that they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness, the apostles were additionally given great power and great grace was upon them all as a special dispensation or administration from God. This great grace fulfilled the purpose and will of God for the time, that the early church be fruitful, and that their fruit remain. As a further example consider John the Baptist, who was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Jesus said … among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). These scriptures establish the greatness of John the Baptist and his operating in the leading of the Holy Ghost, yet we do not see the gifts of miracles and healings occurring in his life that were in some other prophets, in Jesus, and in the apostles. Do you get a better understanding that the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, and that He provides by grace the enabling of that gift? Seek the grace of God, and then be diligent that you do not fail of that grace;
Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
Are you failing of the grace of God? Are you often complacent or even hindered in ministry, without grace? Are you fully abounding in grace? Seek the promise, and purpose, and will of God that is your gift or calling, then be diligent to hear and receive the grace to fulfill it. Allow Jesus as the Head of the body to then use you for that will and purpose, that the body not be defiled. Jesus had given the below promise to the apostles, that continues for us today if we will yield and receive it;
John 16:15 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Just as with the early church and the apostles, God has a specific will and purpose for you to fulfill in His plan. No matter what the depth of that gift or call is that He has chosen you for, God provides the grace necessary to fulfill that purpose if you will yield to it. It is only by that grace that you may serve Him acceptably;
Hebrews 12:28, 29 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.
After prophesying of the shaking that will come upon everything, we are exhorted to let us have grace; that grace will let us serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. In each of the following epistles written by the Apostles (and led by God), the writer seeks for grace to be given to the recipient; Romans 1:7, I Corinthians 1:3, 4, II Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, I Thessalonians 1:1, II Thessalonians 1:2, I Timothy 1:2, II Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3, Hebrews 4:16, James 4:6, I Peter 1:2, II Peter 1:2, II John 1:3, and Revelation 1:4 all seek for that grace from the Father and the Lord Jesus for the reader. There can be almost the same length of list exhorting to receive grace at the end of these epistles. These are not mere greetings, but a prayer and desire for those reading to receive the enabling power and strength of God and the Lord Jesus Christ! All scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16), so we must know that God is exhorting us to have grace. We speak about the world not wanting to hear of Jesus, but the church has been lacking in seeking Jesus for His sufficient grace!
Let us consider grace in the life of Jesus: He was perfect, without sin, and did not need reconciled to the Father, but the Word says grace was on Jesus as a child;
Luke 1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Jesus waxed strong in spirit because He was always feeding His spirit, not His flesh. As a result He was filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. His early life was preparation for His call in the will and purpose of God;
Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
Jesus was anointed with power: the grace of God was upon Him! There is grace for all spiritual needs, if we will seek Him for it. Let us consider His anointing closer: His anointing was greater because He loved righteousness;
Hebrews 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
The depth of Jesus anointing above others was due to His life of loving righteousness and hating iniquity! Consider then that this greater anointing brought Him to a fullness of the Spirit that did not have measure;
John 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
There have been many who preached from this verse that Jesus had the Spirit without measure that we cannot have, but this is not scriptural. While we know that each of us is given faith by measure (Romans 12:3, we each then determine what we will do, or fail to do, with that faith), there are no limits of fullness of the Spirit except by our walk. We are to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29), so we are predestinated to also have the same depth of Spirit. While we are not achieving this depth and fullness of Spirit, it is possible. Jesus fulfilled His purpose in His earthly body so that we might make Him the Head, receive grace, and be His new body. The same anointing of Jesus will be present in His body today if we will receive the grace to fulfill the call. This is possible in finding His mercy and His grace to help;
Hebrews 4:15, 16 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Finding the word therefore, consider that Jesus was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Jesus walked in that overcoming grace, and we are exhorted with this verse to come boldly, but if we have considered the throne of grace to be intangible, how will we come boldly unto it? There is a spiritual place of grace for us to come to, or we would not be exhorted to go boldly to it. We do not have to understand grace to find and receive it, and grace is our help in time of need. God will not only give grace to help in time of need, He will build us up, and prepare us for an inheritance;
Acts 20:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified.
Do you want to be a joint-heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17)? Then receive the necessary grace to enable you and give you a place among the sanctified! Let us look closer at what the Apostle Paul said of the abundance of grace in his ministry through Christ Jesus;
I Timothy 1:12 – 14 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
Please receive from verse 14 that grace, faith (Jesus is the author and finisher), and love are in Jesus! If you are not receiving exceeding abundant grace you are falling short of your calling! Let Him build you! Paul further notes that it was the grace of God that made him a wise masterbuilder;
I Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
Paul also acknowledges in the following scripture that by the grace of God … I am what I am, and that his labour was by grace;
I Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Do you feel like a procrastinator spiritually? Paul said he had become what he was only by the grace of God. We know that Paul was abundant in working, in travels, in preaching, in power, and in writing for the Lord, yet when Paul states that he laboured more abundantly than all the other apostles, he humbly notes it was not him, but by the grace of God which was with me. If you desire greater diligence in the spiritual, seek Jesus Christ that you may be strong and abound in grace! Look again at II Corinthians 8; verses 1 – 6 speak of grace for giving. Verse 7 then lists an abounding in many things, and exhorts to …abound in this grace also. By stating this grace also, it is apparent there is grace for each of the gifts mentioned. Please consider the verse deeper in the greater knowledge of the working of grace;
II Corinthians 8:7 Therefore as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
There is grace for anything that you need to accomplish the will of God! There is grace for faith. There is grace for utterance, for knowledge, for all diligence. There is grace for love. The grace for diligence is what we were speaking of with Paul above; Paul knew and received that diligence given by grace! If we begin with seeking Jesus for grace for … all diligence… we will abound when we receive, for when we receive diligence we will find the ability to tarry and receive the other gifts of grace. If you have difficulty expanding these promises for your particular need of grace from this scripture, please consider again the following verse from the ninth chapter;
II Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
The Almighty God in His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, and love is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you may have all sufficiency in all things, and may abound to every good work. This fullness of availability of grace for all things is lacking today because we do not understand the depth of this grace, we do not seek the fullness of this grace, and we do not receive grace in God’s plan. The grace of God will always work in His will and way, for His purpose, and in His time. Do not be dismayed if you do not see the answer as you think, desire, or when you purpose. Paul also humbly gave the glory to God only in the verses above, and this humbling of self must be present to walk in his grace;
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
I Peter 5:5, 6 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
Do you see then that the thorn in the flesh of II Corinthians 12 was the grace of God that kept Paul humble? Most gladly therefore Paul accepted that infirmity, that greater power of Christ could rest on him. Consider again Moses: at forty years old he knew his calling, but he had to wait forty years, had to become the meekest man who lived (Numbers 12:3), and had to be sent of God at the burning bush before the calling could be fulfilled. Moses was then so humble he resisted by telling God of his inadequacies! Please seek and receive this grace by humbly and boldly asking for these things to be given to you and to your church. May you find the promises and gifts freely available to each one from God, for His purpose, in His time, through that grace! May you glorify God who has chosen you! But know also that there will still be those who are called by the election of grace to a plan, purpose, and timing of God similar to the calling of Moses. Let us explore the sureness, faithfulness, and stedfastness that will be in the 7000 reserved of God, and try to better understand the election of grace, and who God is choosing for that calling.