This is the audio from the May 15, 2022 sermon, “All-Sufficient GRACE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: 2 Corinthians 12:7 – 13:11
God has a way of bringing “thorn in the flesh” situations into our life for our benefit and, like Paul, we have a tendency to want them removed as quickly as possible. I believe these last two chapters of 2 Corinthians are not only God’s answer to Paul, but they also show Paul’s response to living out the all-sufficient grace of God. While grace is often defined as an undeserved gift, as I look into the nature of God and the actions of Paul, I see at least five characteristics which represent the grace we need and the grace we ought to share with others. When the lessons of life seem overwhelming to us and to the people around us, God calls us to lean into, and share, His all-sufficient . . .
- Goodness. 2 Corinthians 12:14-15, Romans 15:14, 2 Peter 1:3
- Paul was willing to give of himself because he understood the all-sufficient goodness of God as a good and loving Father. God’s nature is provide what is best for the good of His children regardless of their level of obedience. It is a self-sacrificing goodness best demonstrated through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We carry the all-sufficient goodness of God to others when we help others reach the full potential that can be theirs as a child of God.
- Restoration. 2 Corinthians 12:19-21, Galatians 6:1, 1 Peter 5:10
- As one who had lived in total opposition to the gospel of Jesus and to those who believed it, Paul knew first hand the all-sufficient restoration of God. The power of God at work in a life goes much deeper than a simple surface change — it is a complete restoration to make a new creation in the person sin had destroyed. Recognizing the tension between what was, what is, and what will be is at the heart of living not only as one who has been restored by God, but as one who carries a message of an all-sufficient restoration to everyone regardless of where they are currently at in the process.
- Acceptance. 2 Corinthians 13:4-6, Acts 10:34-35, Romans 15:7
- Paul makes it clear in a number of his writings that he considers himself to be the least worthy of God’s love, yet because of that love he knows the grace of an all-sufficient acceptance. I suspect that many times we struggle with the word acceptance because there are those that thinks it means nothing needs to change. God’s acceptance of me, and of you, is always as we are but with His expectation that we will be transformed by His presence in us. Even when we, or the people around us, are not living fully as we ought, God calls us to accept one another just as He in Christ has accepted us. Living out that instruction leads us to embrace one another with an all-sufficient acceptance.
- Compassion. 2 Corinthians 13:9-10, Luke 15:20, 2 Corinthians 1:3
- As a spiritual parent to the Corinthian church, Paul understood what it meant to share in the pain of others with an all-sufficient compassion. He understood this is the compassion that God demonstrated toward him even as he lived in opposition to the gospel message. The picture of the father in the story of the prodigal son is of a dad that has waited for his son to come to his senses and choose to come home. That home-coming scene is an incredible image of compassion and embrace instead of judgment and condemnation. We carry that all-sufficient compassion when we welcome home all who have strayed . . . even our self.
- Encouragement. 2 Corinthians 13:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Hebrews 3:13
- Paul knew the value of receiving an all-sufficient encouragement from God and from the people God used for that purpose. Throughout his letters to the churches, we find that encouraging believers everywhere is a core concern of his. Even when writing the difficult words of needed correction and rebuke, Paul seems to have always done so in ways meant to offer hope and confidence. In the midst of what seems to be ever-increasing discouragement among people everywhere, imagine the difference you can make in the lives of people when you carry the message of an all-sufficient encouragement that can be found through the grace of God.
How do you need to experience, and share, the all-sufficient GRACE of God today?