“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
God blesses us in grace before we are to serve Him. Doesn’t this scripture above make that point abundantly clear? God revealed to children what the wise and learned were unable to discover. A child is the epitome of weakness, inexperience, need, and dependence
God has consistently chosen the weak, the helpless, the forgotten, the downcast, the disenfranchised of society, and has through His grace based upon the work of Christ on the cross blessed them and built them up. To those who are strong and mature Christ said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15), explaining that we can only come to Christ pleading our need and our weakness. But this is the very attitude that God looks for in us in order to pour out into our souls the riches of His strength and wisdom.
Consider these Scriptures:
James 4:6: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
1 Corinthians 1:17-19: For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’
1 Corinthians 1:26-29: Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
This is the consistent biblical witness, that recognition of need and belief in the power of God and the willingness of God to bless us are essentials in spiritual maturity. This is the basic teachings of grace, that God has purchased for us our salvation independent of our personal effort, and the clear teachings of these truths are presented in Romans 1-5: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1).
J. C. Metcalfe made this observation about our need to be grounded in the principle of grace before we are truly able to continue in spiritual growth.
Dr. James of Albany, who was used to bring hundreds into the deeper truths, declared that he usually found that ‘failure in the higher stages of the Christian life was due to imperfect understanding and acceptance of the gospel of salvation in its fundamental principles.’ It is a rare thing to be able to sit down and teach, because in most settings today one is limited to dealing with ‘the first principles of the oracles of God’; and can go little further than the basic facts of the new birth. You cannot deepen spiritual life that is not there! You will only build askew if the foundations are not properly laid! A lack of appreciation of the wonder of a full salvation in Christ, opens the door to every kind of overbalance, and spells continual frustration and failure. (Quoted from The Green Letters, “Rest”, by Miles Stanford)
It is essential to get this point down into our minds if we are to progress spiritually, that grace can only be bestowed to us on the basis of grace, not because of our effort or our trying or our pleading or learning, but simply on the basis of God’s choice and His provision in Christ. We are saved through faith but not on the basis of our faith. The Bible is abundantly clear on this issue and avoids using the phrase that would teach that our faith forms the foundation of our salvation. Christ is the foundation, and what He did on the cross and who He is as the Resurrection and the Life is the basis by which God deals with us. Faith is but a door we walk through and into a new life but that new life rests upon the work of Christ. But His grace is given in full measure to the one who comes with this spirit of humility and trust.
There is something good to be found in learning, making something out of yourself, achieving your goals in life, and making wise decisions, certainly, but this is not how we present ourselves to God. Isaiah said that our righteousness is as filthy rags compared to God’s (Isaiah 64:6). It is our need and admitting our need and believing in His provision in Christ Jesus that brings us into a saving relationship with God. This same understanding provides the key principle that must be grasped in our life if we are to continue in spiritual growth. If we fail to get this point down, we will stumble through our Christian life seeking to serve in our strength, rather than rest and stand in His.
So, how do we rest in His grace? By faith. By saying to God through Christ, “I know I am not acceptable to You on any other terms other than Your grace. I come before You as needy as I can be, as unworthy as I can be, pleading my need and taking You at Your word, that You give grace to the humble. I do not consider even my humility as an achievement, but bow before You.”
The one who comes to God like this will experience the fulfillment of the words in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” And the Heavenly Father picks up the repentant child, but now the child finds new strength in his legs, not his old strength, but the strength of God. He experiences the power and presence Isaiah spoke of, “He shall mount up with wings as eagles. He shall run and not grow weary. He shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Lord, we come before You this day knowing we must rest in You before we can stand for You. Open our minds to understand this principle of grace, that it is not merely an idea to get us saved, but it is the principle by which we are to live and serve in Your power. Amen.