“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee.”—2 Corinthians 12:9
You know, when He first whispers that, you say to yourself, with your intelligence and intellect, “Yes, Lord, that is right. I know that to be a fact. Your grace is sufficient.” But then a little dark hour will come, and the hurt goes a little deeper than you thought it was going to go, and He says it again, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And then your soul beings to understand.
Now, Paul looked at it from a different angle than we may take. Paul said the revelation had been so great to him that to keep him from getting the “big head” and exalting himself above measure and thinking he sat at the pinnacle of humanity to whom God had talked, God let a thorn get into his flesh to keep him humble. He said, “I entreated the Lord thrice that He would take it away, but He would not do it; but kept saying to me, My grace is sufficient for you.”
Don’t always say when you have something wrong that it is a thorn in your flesh, like Paul’s, because you may have had no revelation. Yours may be a different thorn and a different cross, but He keeps saying unto you in every dark hour, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
What Is Grace?
I wish I could define grace. I have tried to define it, but it is so much bigger than a definition. It is like electricity in this regard, or the wind. You can tell what it does. You can say of the wind, “It swept down upon us and picked up that house in Kansas and put it down in another county.” But what pushed it and gave that great hurricane a start? A little flag, by the same wind, may flap its colors. Yes, I think I know what wind is; it is atmosphere in motion. But what made the motion? I don’t know. I know the scientist would say that the air pressure caused by differing temperatures made it blow. Maybe it was cold in one place and hot in another, and the cold air was heavier and pushed down the warm air, which was lighter, and it went up. We ask, then, “Why doesn’t the wind blow up and down, and why does it blow as it does?” I don’t know. It is still and calm air one day and the next day air rushes in a hurricane. One month it blows the seeds about and covers them with dirt, and the next it is just a gentle zephyr to fan the fevered brow of those too warm from a spring suit. I know something about it, but it is so elusive. I say, “Cannot I control it? Let me get behind the wind, so I can have it blow when I wish it to,” but I cannot.
I have seen folks in Boston waiting for the east wind. I will never forget the first view I had when I came from the West, where I had never seen anybody living above the second or third floor at most. I saw people sleeping on fire escapes on the seventh floor and blocking the streets so that you could not easily get through by taking their bedding out to the streets. One night I was going toward the ferry to go to my home, and the people were everywhere lying in the doorways and walking in the streets, and you could hardly get through to the car. Suddenly, what is gloriously known in Boston as “the east wind” came up, and everybody grabbed his blanket and mattress and pillow and away he went indoors, for the cool wind had come, and they didn’t need to pant any more. They even shut their windows and doors, for the cool was even cold.
Just as surely, somehow, God moves upon our lives. I don’t know why, in the day of conflict and trial and tribulation and sin and temptation and hypocrisy and downfall and backsliding, God ever moved into my life, but, oh, thank God, a heavenly wind hit me one day and the Balm of Gilead has been mine from that hour to this. Surely, we will never cease to praise Him for His grace that saves us, undeserved, unmerited. As you look into His face you say to Him, “But why call me? I am the chief of sinners. Oh, God, anybody but me. Why should I be bathed in your blood and others go unwashed?” I don’t know, but I bathed, and I cry, “Abba, Father, He is mine!” His grace is sufficient.
The Nation’s Opportunity.
Oh my friends, I am seeing these days that we have not yet gone down far enough in this great gold mine of God’s grace. We are calling for power, when we should take His grace; that wondrous, glorious moving of the Holy Ghost that sweeps over a community of over a nation and turns back its backsliding. I am praying in these hours of trial and distress and warfare that the grace of God may prevail for our nation, and the “east wind” from heaven may turn back this high tide of hate, and that God may be glorified and save us as a nation, to spread the Gospel to the uttermost bounds and bring Jesus back to this old world. Somehow, I have had a vision of our country as God’s last base of operation. He in all times seems to keep a little place for Himself through which He may move. He has a remnant among the nations where He can move, and somehow I feel that, if Jesus is to tarry and there is to be a great movement that shall spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth, surely in this land of plenty and commerce and money and liberty God would plant His last base and from here work out to the regions beyond in a large way; pushing out to the uttermost bounds men and money to bring this poor, lost world its message of Jesus Christ before the final hour. Not that other nations might not be used, but that we might be raised up and preserved especially to this great end.
I may not have the mind of God, but I trust I have, that the great vision that the Church should have in our day is to go, to go, to go—to the ends of the earth. It is not ours to stand still when these terrific war blows fall, when the cannon roars and famine may shriek upon us, and wonder and fear spread abroad. He wants to show us that in the hardest times His grace is sufficient to cause us to use this opportunity in telling men and women about Jesus. Brother, sister, if you ever worked, start now. If you ever took the grace of God to do a big thing, do it now. When the chances all seem against us, that is the time God makes grace abound; grace that is sufficient. Just in the very darkest hour, if you will watch, God will show you the plan for the very hour. Men that have gotten God’s vision have always gotten it in a trying time. Grace can see and travel in the dark.
In The Hard Place.
In the bottom of that storm-tossed vessel Paul prayed, and the angel stood by him while the old boat creaked and rocked and men were howling and yelling, “We’re going down! We’re going down!” But Paul was already down. He couldn’t drop any lower. He was at Jesus’ feet. If you want to know what grace is, while other men discuss the conflict get down before God and get His vision of what the end is going to be. In this hour of stress, oh, men and women, if you know Jesus, let’s go to prayer and ask Him for His plan for us in these final hours. He controls the waves, and in the hard times He will keep saying to you, “My grace is sufficient.” God is going to get His Gospel out; grace will abound. God will go to the hardest places, through the most difficult circumstances, just to show what grace can do. Any place where you would think God cannot go, that is just where Jesus with grace always shows up. Did you ever notice? The storms beat high and the little boat rocks with His disciples. Up one side of the waves it goes, and down the other, and Peter says to John, “We will never get out of it.” But while the wind roars Jesus stands on the very waves that are tossing them, and peace by grace sings out above the storm. In the hardest place His grace is sufficient. What does He do with the waves? What does He do with the disciples? He gets into the boat with them, and immediately they are at land. He speaks and the waves obey.
Brother, in the conflict and roaring distress look for Jesus, for He will walk over any billow or storm to stand close beside His own and give His grace at the trying place, in the hardest hour. Trials? Surely, but grace enough for all.
Men say the wind blows because of varying temperature. Grace comes because of the temperature of God’s heart against a cold world, for, where sin abounds, grace always much more abounds, and His great love moves Him toward us. Our very need makes Him come, and I am sure, oh, very sure, this morning that as He looks upon the heathen world and upon the dark and dreary and dismal confines of this wicked Earth His great heart of love with terrific pressure is going to move across it until He will make the very battlefields, the very blood spilt in hate, the very cannon roar, the very tottering of empires yet sound out the name of Jesus to the farthest bounds. He will stand the devil up in a corner, and the devil as he recites off his figures of the awful total of destruction will have to hear the laugh of God at him, saying, “While you thought you were wreaking your worst, I was still getting My way.” God is not bringing evil that good may come; but in spite of evil, He is bringing out what He shall pronounce as good through His glorious grace.
The dear man of God that stood in our pulpit here, Brother Fettler, and plead for a bound Russia, now sees God working. God has made this war open the door of Russia to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank God. His grace is abounding today, for where sin abounds grace does much more abound. He will continue to use His grace to get this Gospel out.
It must go out. If you fail, He will get somebody else. If you drop, He has another. Oh, how my heart has gone out for you as the people of The Moody Church that you may move out on this flood tide of grace. God has given me by His grace an opportunity to go to other places. I return to you more moved than ever to tell you of your large chance, not with flattery, not in the natural, not carnally, but, oh, friends, God is holding out to you an opportunity that few congregations have today. God has opened doors of usefulness to you that few congregations enjoy. Many congregations are on the roadside, on the hillside, but you, God has placed in the midst of a mighty city, and the open doors are here, the heathen are here, and there is a way into their midst; God peculiarly has put us among the alien peoples, until on the list of the converts of this Tabernacle are twenty-nine different nationalities that have been converted in this one place. I say Hallelujah! Repeatedly on Sunday night we have to cry out, “Is there anybody that can speak this, that or the other foreign language and lead this soul of another tongue to Christ?” Oh, praise God for it. Don’t let us pat ourselves with polluted, rotten pride, but bow our heads in deep humility and say, “Oh, God, if this is my opportunity, help me to measure up. Oh, help me and use me and fit me, just because Thy grace is sufficient.”
I say to you as men and women this morning, God is going to call you this summer to the most wonderful chance you ever had to preach the Gospel to men in all kinds of languages. While others stand on the corner and discuss a thousand things, you will have the opportunity to join a little street band and sing or preach the Gospel. Some of you are here and say, “Mr. Rader, I couldn’t talk on the street.” Could you come and stand alongside of somebody else on the street, even if you didn’t open your mouth? Could you stand there with your eyes shut and pray? Well, if you can, it will be like being vaccinated. It will soon take, and the first thing you know somebody will have to pull you down for talking too long. Yes, sir, as you see the crowd up before you, and the opportunity of giving your testimony, you—delicate woman that you are, with your refined disposition—you stand there and God will open your eyes to some other woman like yourself on the sidewalk, and there will come an inward urge, and you say, “Oh, God, if I could go on that box I could tell that person what God has done for me.” Oh, get out where you can catch the vision and where He can speak through you. Forward to the highways and hedges! His grace is sufficient.
Friends, my heart is sad as I look at the size of our city and see how little we do for the dying masses around us—two million and a half of people, and yet I warrant that not one hundred thousand are in any kind of a church today. Oh, if they won’t come in, let’s go out, in God’s name, this summer, let’s go out. If you don’t belong to a little street band, ask, and we’ll put you in one. Get a song book, and, if you cannot sing, stand up in the group and hold it open for Jesus. If you cannot sing, you can open your mouth and stand there, and you can pray and help the little company.
When I started to do street work in the city of New York, when God wondrously came into my life through His grace, I wanted to do street work, and God showed me how. There was a bum standing up against a post, with a toothpick in his mouth. I looked at his face and said, “That face has not had its supper.” I stepped around and pulled the toothpick out of his mouth, and he started to expostulate, and I said, “You haven’t had your supper. That is all a bluff. Come on in and eat supper with me.” He didn’t even stop to answer: he just let out his belt and walked in with me. He was a baldheaded fellow, and he was so hungry I couldn’t talk to him, and he kept his bald head turned in front of me and never looked up at me once; but I saw two fellows next to him, so I “played billiards” on his bald head with my words. The message glanced off of it and struck a couple of traveling men, and they began to talk back. We had a nice conversation. We all paid our bills together and walked outside of the restaurant, and I said, “Now, I want to preach to you.” And I pulled out a Testament and said, “If you will stand on the sidewalk, I won’t ask you to do anything else, but other bees will gather around if you stick, so you stick.” They stood on the curb, the bum and the two companions at the table, and it wasn’t long until others came, and I didn’t have to wait for a crowd very long. I began to talk to them and God commenced to move and get the Gospel out. I don’t want to push under the law, but He will keep saying unto you, when you have gotten a vision of the lost world, “My grace is sufficient. I have a way where you have no way.”
Let Go And Let God.
There is a way. Don’t get distracted. Don’t get fanatical. Don’t push. You haven’t seen His grace when you push. The wind does the work. It is His grace that opens doors and puts you into your place. While you struggle you are not taking grace. Whenever you fret, His grace is not sufficient. Whenever you pull, His grace is not being trusted. If you take grace, it is given of God, and you wait for Him and for His time, and He moves you out. Your heart has caught the vision and He opens the doors. Paul never pushed into Macedonia, but the hand that was wounded on Calvary beckoned from Macedonia and said, “Come over and help us.” Jesus is Himself on the other side of the stream and says, “Come over here to another town, to another block,” and He says, “Come on down, and I will open up the way.” My friend, it isn’t mechanical, and the thing must come to the people as a vision, and then it is easy to find a way; but if you have to be shoved with the mechanical side the thing is a failure.
His grace is sufficient. I can no more tell you what grace is than I can tell you what gravity is. I walked down to the lake the other day and sat down on a bench. It was a little cold, but I wanted to talk with God in the open. As I sat there and looked at the sun there came a creepy feeling up and down my backbone, and for the first time in my life, I realized that nobody in the world knew what has holding the earth, and yet we were swinging around mighty fast. Not a cord, not a thing you can weigh, not a thing you can handle, not a thing you can touch holds this old world in its place. You can go to the scientist and he will tell you what gravity is, but when he has told you what it is it is just like telling you what wind is. He says, “I’ll tell you what it is. It is the thing that holds the earth to the sun.” Well, isn’t that lovely? Well, then, if the earth on this side is being held to the sun and on that side is being held to the sun, what makes it whirl around in perfect time of day and night? Well, I don’t know. They say gravity is the strain of ether. I think the best definition is to admit that it is a strain on our mentality trying to define it; and it will be a strain on your heart to try to define grace. Get all the definitions you please, and, after all, thank God, it is the power of God that holds you, as it is the power of the sun swinging the earth.
Say, I never enjoyed the Scripture telling of His holding power so much in my life as I did sitting on that bench. He says, “No man can pluck them out of my hand.” I was feeling kind of creepy. Why? Did you ever think of it? Suppose the sun were to let go. Suppose there was anything in the world that some fellow could step on and throw the world out of balance. Suppose that by digging a mine into it it would become wrecked and unbalanced and begin to break from the powers that hold it to the sun. When would it stop? Tomorrow? No. It would fall hundreds of thousands of miles, millions, billions, trillions. But when would it stop? But where would it stop? Is there a stopping place? Would it keep on dropping forever, forever, forever, and never strike the end? Yes, forever without end. My, but I am glad I am not lost this morning! Oh, I am glad I am not holding on to Him. Thank God, I am glad of it. I might slip, but, oh, He says, “You are in My hand. Nobody shall pluck you out of My hand.” Thank God for such a salvation this morning as that. He said, “My Father is greater than I, and nobody can pluck you out of His hand.” Can’t they lift one of His fingers? Not a finger. Thank God, I am saved eternally, forever. Saved by the power of Jesus Christ, one with Him. What did it? I didn’t deserve it—the grace of God. His grace holds. It is sufficient.
Resting In Grace.
So He keeps whispering in the hour of emergency. In the hour when something would seem to roll in and break your connection He keeps saying unto you, “My grace is sufficient.” Then the devil comes in and says to you, “But you are unworthy,” and you look again at the blood and say, “I know I am unworthy, but I am saved by God’s grace alone.” It is sufficient. Now, as you have gone on in your Christian life and you have struggled, and you wondered if there wasn’t a place where God could hold you steady. You have had an up and down experience. Beloved, there is a place, and it is His grace. He holds you, if you will let Him hold you. Now, anything that is a struggle isn’t being held at all, and He doesn’t want you to fret nor to struggle, but to let His grace operate, just to let it operate. His grace will keep you steadily in your place as the sun keeps the earth in its orbit.
Somebody says, “But don’t you have a varied experience?” Yes, you do, but, friend, the very variety of it proves to you that you are in God’s orbit. If it were summer all the time in our old world, what would our scientists say? They would say “the earth has stopped.” Suppose you were to say, “It is night now all the time in China, and it is daytime on the American side.” What would the scientists say? “The earth has stopped and isn’t running around any more—isn’t turning in its orbit.”
Some folks seem to feel that they are not held in the grip, in the will and in the grace of God when different changes come to their lives; but, oh, my friend, He will hold you in your orbit, and it is necessary for you to constantly go through spring, summer, autumn and winter, but His grace is sufficient for every season. You say, “Mr. Rader, I want it summer all the time.” Well, you wouldn’t amount to much if you had it. Mr. Jacoby and myself were up to Tom Smith’s orchard last year, and Brother Jacoby and I each picked a half barrel of apples; but Mr. Smith said he knew they wouldn’t be good. They looked red and rosy and delicious, but he said, “They won’t keep and there won’t be much taste to them.” I said, “Aren’t they ripe?” And he said, “Yes.” “What is wrong, then?” I asked. He answered, “You want to wait until the first little frost or two hits them on the trees.” “What does that do?” “That drives the flavor all on the inside and makes them juice and snappy, and they have taste to them then.” You know, you folks that are older, when us young fellows preach you sit around and say, “Yes, I guess he is ripe, all right, but wait until he has a few frosts like I have had to mellow him up and break him down, and when he has had some of the sorrow I have had to go through he will begin to have some of the mellowness and tenderness and patience and wisdom.” That is why an old head is a wonderful head for Jesus, if it has a heart that has taken the frosts without murmuring. If you rebelled against the frosts you are worse than the unripe ones, for your sweet has turned to sour; but if you let the frost that bites and stings and is cold come, saying, “Lord, it is in Your plan and I take it from You,” He will mellow you and put color and hope and love in you. Why is it folks love to visit an old lady like Auntie Cooke? She isn’t pretty. If a washboard is pretty, Auntie is pretty, for she has more wrinkles than a washboard; but when you begin to talk to her you realize that everything that has come to her she has taken from God. When Auntie had her accident, Brother Jacoby went to her right off, and he can tell you that there was no complaint. She waited on God to even see where she would go, or what she would let them do. I never heard her complain once about all the things that were coming into her life. Why? She accepts them from Jesus. “His grace is sufficient,” and her face is like sunshine because the wrinkles don’t run across this way; they are all sweetly curved. All beauty lines are in curves. God makes His greatest beauty out of curved lines around the mouth, in wrinkles set deep, but set for Jesus and His glory.
Friends, you will have to have a fall, as well as a glorious spring and summer, for your experience. Somebody says, “But why do we have the winter?” A beautiful little book came out years ago. The mother in the book is asked, “Why do we have winter?” “Well,” she said, “if we didn’t have winter I wouldn’t get acquainted with my family. In the springtime the boys grab their fishing rods and the girls their white dresses, and mother sits at home, and they are all out on a vacation; and I am so glad when winter time comes, and we build a fire in the fireplace, and they all come and nestle around; and there is father and grandmother and uncle, and the children all come around the fireplace, and we sit there and talk things over. Otherwise we would never get acquainted.” So friend, if there never came a conflict in the history of the Body of Christ on Earth, and never came a time of martyrdom and tribulation, we would never know each other nor our blessed Lord in a near way, but in the hour of trial here we all head in around Jesus and get down in nights of prayer, and then, thank God, we get acquainted with Him and each other.
The greatest men and women I have ever known I have known in the hour of prayer around His feet. I had never seen the glorious, sparkling inside of the human heart that Jesus had marvelously made until I heard men and women in nights of prayer pour out their hearts to God; and you never have seen an open heart anywhere until you meet them in the deep hour of prayer at Jesus’ feet. The Church of God on Earth has gloriously grown in the days of martyrdom and conflict; and in the days of plenty and foolishness it philosophizes and is wobbly and shallow.
Oh, I am asking God in this winter time of conflict, in this hour of Earth’s agony, to get a class of martyrs and of saints such as He never had in the history of the world before. Brother, are you going to come in in this winter time around His feet and find out that in this hour “His grace is sufficient”? Get your vision now—not a summer day’s vision, not a springtime vision, not an autumn time vision; but in the winter of Earth, close up to the tribulation time, now, get close to Him, so close and so still that every human voice will be still, and you will know, and He will say to you, “My grace is sufficient,” and “sweeter than all will be His great love for you.”
Brother, it was God’s love that sent Jesus. It is His love that built heaven. It is His love that has made eternity. It is His love that spilled His blood. Oh, take His love and His grace this morning, and stop your struggle. Can you not say this morning, “I have caught a vision of the grace of God, and will stop my struggle and murmuring and complaining. I will trust Thy great love for me to settle every problem. I will simply let go and let God, I will trust, I commit my way unto Thee. Give me this glorious life of victory that a Christian ought to have.” I will cease from all my fruitless struggle and simply take Thy grace, which is sufficient. Yes, sufficient. Enough, enough. That is why this life of His fullness is spoken of as a blessing. It is soul-satisfying, gloriously restful. He is enough. His grace is sufficient.