"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
"He gives more grace."—James 4:6
Many are the hindrances and discouragements which meet the Christian in his journey heavenward; and, if he had only his own strength to rely upon, he would soon become faint-hearted, and sink down in hopeless despair. But, conscious that there is a power on his side which can carry him over every obstacle—an Arm on which he may lean for support in every time of weakness—and a Refuge to which he can betake himself whenever danger threatens to overwhelm him, he pursues his onward and upward course, assured that He who has been his Guardian and Guide in the past, will not fail nor forsake him in the future. And, ever, as he finds his progress retarded—whether by temptations from without or from within—from daily interaction with the world, or a more close and constant communion with an evil heart, he resorts to to the throne of grace, that his faith may be invigorated—his love increased—and all his spiritual energies renewed and strengthened.
Thus, only, can he hope to maintain his ground, and "press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." If he gives way to indolence, he is sure to be defeated; if he attempts to encounter the adversary without prayer, he is as sure to lose his ground. He will find, that the strength in which he trusted was weakness; and that his fancied courage could not bear him through the contest.
But oh! what encouragement have we to betake ourselves to the throne of grace, and seek Divine help and support!—what cheering promises are given to all who ask in sincerity! "He gives more grace." "The Lord preserves all those who love him." "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths." "I will rejoice over them, says the Lord, to do them good." "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain you." "He shall deliver you in six troubles, yes, in seven there shall no evil touch you." "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." "Call unto me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you know not." "I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you." "I will teach you what you shall do." "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who trust in him."
And, how frequently is the assurance given, that they who humbly wait upon the Lord, asking more grace and strength to do His will—to live to His glory—and to follow the footsteps of the Savior, will receive fresh accessions, until, from "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," they are "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." "Whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have an abundance." "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God." "Then shall they know, if they follow on to know the Lord." "Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." "He gives power to the faint; and to those who have no might He increases strength." "The righteous shall hold on his way, and he who has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." And Paul addresses the Thessalonians in these words, "We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more."
From these and similar passages we may learn—
First, that where grace really exists in the heart, there will be an earnest desire for more.
Second, that the sure way of "growing in grace," is to strive, earnestly and prayerfully, to improve what we have already received.
Third, that there is only one source whence it can come to us—from Him who is seated on the throne of grace, and who has promised to bestow it on all who humbly ask it. "He gives more grace."
1. Where grace exists there will be an earnest desire for more grace.Yes, he in whose heart the Spirit of God has implanted this divine principle, will not rest satisfied with present attainments—love to God and Christ will constrain him to seek after conformity to the will of God, and, conscious of his own inherent weakness, guilt and helplessness, his cry will be "Lord, more grace—more grace!" This feeling will grow, and expand, until it pervades the whole being. Every fresh struggle will be accompanied with renewed supplication—every day will be begun and ended, with another and yet another petition, that "more grace" may be imparted.
The believer, under the influence of a living faith, feels that he has much to do, and no strength of his own to carry on the work assigned. He has to be in the world, yet not of the world. He has to bear about with him the name and character of Christ's disciple, and to resist every temptation to that which his Master has forbidden. He has to struggle with spiritual enemies—with a treacherous heart—with enticements to evil on the right hand and on the left. He has to "be diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord"—to "set his affections on things above, not on things on the earth"—to "have his treasure and conversation in heaven"—to "give all diligence to make his calling and election sure"—to "add to his faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity;" that these things being in him and abounding, he may "neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Oh surely, then, there is need of "more grace"—grace to be diligent and faithful—grace to be resolute and strong—grace to improve, and employ aright, and for the glory of God, talents, and opportunities, and means, and efforts—grace to make our lives sacred, devoted, and dedicated lives—grace, so that for us "to live is Christ"—grace, so that the highest end we have in view, is to "please God, and to abound more and more."
Reader, have you this earnest longing for "more grace"? If it exists in your heart at all, you must have felt your need of it—if it is not quenched and smothered, by sinful contact with the world, you will be longing for a renewed supply. There is no standing still in the life of faith. "The man," says Augustine, "who says 'enough,' that man's soul is lost!" "Onwards!" must ever be the Christian's motto. The power of grace must wax stronger and stronger, if you would have the power of sin to wax weaker and weaker. Your daily prayer will be, "Lord, give me more grace to honor You; grace in every vicissitude and change; in all the varied phases of my being. Grant me grace for sunshine and storm, for health and for sickness, for life and for death."
And, it ought to animate and encourage the Christian, to know that the sure way to "grow in grace," is to strive, earnestly and prayerfully, to improve what has already been bestowed. Religion does not enjoin, that a man should retire from the world, and give no heed to its business and pursuits. No! it exhorts him rather to carry into the world the "grace" which may leaven the surrounding mass; to carry there a Christian temperament—love to God and man—fervency of spirit—earnestness in well-doing—and humble submission to the will of his Maker. What is required, is not inconsistent with the attention due to the interest of the present life; and experience has proved, that Divine grace grows and expands, in the midst of incessant labor and daily toil.
For a man to shun the world, is to shun the appointed sphere of duty. He may climb the mountain summit, and there—far away from all companionship with his fellows—the rock for his couch and the wild fruits for his sustenance—he may submit to every kind of toil and privation, in the attempt to live down the fierceness of passion, and to gain the victory over carnal desires; but, far more pleasing in the sight of God, are the humble efforts of that believer, who, casting his all on Jesus, prays for grace to do his duty where God has cast his lot, and who does not shun the battle of life, but fights "the good fight of faith" and "overcomes the world." The one will grow in grace—in childlike humility—and trust in the Savior's merits—the other, wielding the scourge and wearing sackcloth, will grow in spiritual pride—in the hope to purchase heaven by his own frantic and feeble efforts.
Oh! do not think, that the poor laborer, who must depart from his cottage with the first streak of the morning, and not return until night has far advanced, and who must wear away the intermediate time in unremitting toil—do not think, that he must, of necessity, be "standing still"—that grace is making no advances within his heart, and that he cannot be progressing in the life of faith and godliness. He may go through all his labor in the fear of God—yielding himself contentedly to his lot, and acknowledging the Divine hand in its appointments, and, if he is so doing, he cannot fail to be "growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ."
"Growth in grace" is not to be expected from certain high and enraptured emotions—not from trances or ecstasies—but from the faithful exercise and exhibition of what has already been given; in your daily deportment—your deportment in the haunts of business—your deportment in your families—yes , amid all the occupations and requirements of life. Your life may present much the same general features for years; but still it may, it ought to be a growing life—abounding more and more in the service of God. You are not to expect that greater opportunities will be put in your way—so much as that you should make these opportunities out of 'ordinary things'—having an eye more capable of discerning them in common things, and being more ready to seize upon them and to use them. This is Christian principle, and what you should aim at.
Nor are you to expect, that your opportunities of exercising the "grace" given you, will be such as to attract the notice of others—no, they will lie chiefly in common things—in your ordinary duties—in your home circle, in resisting and overcoming habits of self-indulgence—habits of harshness, fretfulness, irritability of temper, or the like. "Grace" may be brought into exercise too, in bearing sickness, trial, unkindness, or reproach, with a patient uncomplaining spirit—in helping and encouraging your neighbor—in being more generous, more kind, more sympathizing—in showing more "love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance"—delighting more in prayer and the Word of God—setting the Lord more and more before you—ever keeping Him in mind.
It is thus "grace" will truly grow and expand, so that every fresh duty becomes more easy—every fresh trial less painful. By bringing it into the detail of daily life, so that it may elevate and consecrate human affection—sweeten earthly love with the deepest and tenderest sympathies—pervade duty, pleasure, and recreation—you will most surely promote the growth of that Divine principle which the Spirit of God has implanted within you.
But we must never forget, that our ability for all this comes from above; that, as there is only one source from which "grace" comes to us at first, so there is only one source from which we can obtain renewed supplies. "He gives more grace." Our heavenly Father, for the sake of His well-beloved Son, has graciously promised to renew His gifts to those who use them rightly—to increase in them true religion, to nourish them with all goodness, and of His great mercy keep them in the same. Grace is no scanty thing, doled out in pittances; the fountain is full and overflowing—the treasury is large and inexhaustible; myriads are hourly hanging on it, and drawing from it, and yet there is no diminishing. Out of that fullness all may receive grace for grace. "My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor. 9:8
Christian! be it yours, by earnest prayer, to seek for an increase of grace. While careful to use aright what you have already received, oh, repair to the throne of grace for a fresh supply, and, be assured, that there is not a trial you can encounter—not a sorrow you can experience, not a difficulty you can meet with in your daily life, for which Jesus—in the treasury of grace—has not a corresponding solace. In the multitude of your thoughts within you His 'comforts will delight your soul.'
Not in your own strength can you tread the path of life, or make one effort to "grow in grace." Everything must come from the heavenly treasury—but oh! blessed assurance "those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing." There is no real blessing, either for time or eternity, which will be withheld from you, if you humbly ask it, for the sake of Jesus. "Hitherto," He said to His disciples, "you have asked nothing in my name—ask, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full." And, "He who spared not His own Son, but freely gave Him up to the death for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
Look backward, and reflect how many blessings you have received in the past; and, take these as the pledges that God will be with you still, and will give "grace and strength" for the time to come. "He who believes has the witness in himself." You have the witness to the fulfillment of the most gracious assurances of your Lord, in "yourself"—in your own heart, and in your own experience. Methinks I hear you say, "Yes, I have been in affliction and sorrow, when the consolation of earthly friends was utterly ineffectual, to dry the starting tear, or to calm the bursting heart; and, at that hour, there was One who said, 'In all your affliction I was afflicted.'
"I have been in seasons of the most fearful spiritual temptation, when I had almost made shipwreck of my faith, but there was One who whispered 'My grace is sufficient for you, and my strength is made perfect in weakness.'
"I have been upon a sickbed, and—as I believed—a dying bed. I have stood upon the brink of a fathomless eternity, and, at that dreadful hour, there was One who stood by me in the watches of the night, and imparted strong consolation—there was One who said 'There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus; I have withdrawn the sting of death; I have robbed the grave of its victory—fear not—I will give you grace, and be with you always, even to the end.'"
"Blessed Lord, bend Your pitying eye of love and mercy upon us, as we venture to approach the throne of grace. We desire to look up to You through Jesus Christ, Your well-beloved Son, and to be made partakers of that peace which passes all understanding. There is no other refuge for the sin-stricken, woe-worn spirit. But, blessed be God, that we are permitted to rest on the finished work and everlasting righteousness of our dear Redeemer, and that there is in Him an all-sufficiency for our every need.
"We pray, O God, for pardoning, renewing, quickening, and sanctifying grace. Transform us by the indwelling power of Your Holy Spirit. May we seek to be more animated by ardent love to Him, whose we are, and whom it is alike our duty and our privilege to obey. Knowing that this is Your will concerning us, even our sanctification, may it be our constant ambition, to be growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Almighty Savior, in whom all fullness dwells, we humbly beseech You that it may be given us to receive out of Your fullness grace sufficient for us; so that, being taught of You how we ought to walk and to please God, we may abound therein more and more. Cause us to be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and let it be the great employment of our lives to honor and serve You. May our rejoicing be the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have lived our lives in the world.
Allow us not, O God, to rest satisfied with present attainments, but according to Your promise—give us more grace. Carry us still forward in Your ways, from strength to strength, until we are fit to be translated to that better country, where we shall see You face to face, and being fully conformed to Your image, shall love You supremely, rejoice in You triumphantly, and celebrate Your praises forever.
Graciously hear us, O God, and have mercy on us for the sake of Your beloved Son, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.