The Gift of Grace

Posted in: 2010
By Tom L. Ballinger
Apr 9, 2010 - 11:22:12 AM

April 8, 2010
“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 3:7)
The “whereof” refers back to its antecedent, “the gospel,” in Verse Six. The Apostle Paul rejoiced in the grace that was given him. This gift of grace enabled him to be the minister of the Gospel of the Mystery. The engracing of Paul was by the “effectual working of His power.” This phrase carries us back to the first chapter.
“ … according to the working of His mighty power, Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at his own right hand [among] the heavenly authorities, over all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (A paraphrasing of Ephesians 1:19-21).
It was the resurrection power working, effectually, in Paul which enabled him to be the minister of the Gospel of the Mystery. Paul seems to be constantly aware of the mighty power working in him, as well as in fellow-members of the “same body.”
He mentions this power in association with God quickening those who had been dead in trespasses and sins in Ephesians 2:1. He, again, mentions the power in Ephesians 3:16 as it relates to be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man. Ephesians 3:19 emphasizes the fact that this power works, effectually, to “usward who believe.” And, in Ephesians 3:20, this resurrection power is said to be working in us.
The Apostle Paul acknowledges that his unique ministry, associated with his imprisonment, was the result of the “gift of the grace of God.” This gift of grace was appropriate for the “Dispensation of the Grace of God” in which he was made the steward. This gift of grace excludes all human merit and attainment. It was based upon God’s grace that Paul was chosen to be the Chief Steward of the Grace of God—not upon the Apostle’s achievement during the Pentecostal era. Even during this period, he could say:
“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” (1 Cor. 15:10).
Yet, despite his abundant labor, Paul considered himself “less than the least of all saints.”
Through our eyes, Paul certainly seemed to merit this special call. However, he, himself, had been so overwhelmed by God’s grace, ever since his call on the Damascus Road  in Acts 9, that he was, truly, a man of GRACE. He was the embodiment of a GRACE-MAN. And, as such, he never forgot that he was “before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” (1 Tim 1:13).
A man-of-grace recognizes that he is without merit when it comes to grace. The more abundant the grace is given, the more aware one becomes of his unworthiness. Paul recognized that grace was a GIFT, not a reward. Therefore, he was more conscious of the gift of grace in his life, perhaps, than we are. Grace was woven into every fiber of his being; that is how he could say, regarding the “gift of grace given unto” him—that …
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).
Humanly speaking, he was not “less than the least of all saints,” but, as he viewed his commission to make all men see that which had never been previously revealed, he was more than humbled. Paul realized that the privilege was so great and magnificent, he was overwhelmed that it was he who God chose to speak the unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles.
It seems that whenever deep feelings influence language, it is often noted that the speaker, or writer uses a figure of speech, either knowingly, or unknowingly—known as, a “Meiosis,” or a “Belittling.” By this Figure of Speech, “one thing is diminished [Paul’s acclaim] in order to increase another thing [magnify the grace of God].” Paul diminished his greatness in order to call the attention to the greatness of that which is set in contrast with it. Paul’s apostleship is lowered in order to magnify the grace shown to him. Many expositors believed that the Figure which Paul used was an “Oxymoron.”  That is where, at first sight, what is said appears to be foolish; yet, when it is further considered, it is found to be exceedingly wise. This is, sometimes, referred to as “wise-folly.”
Another example of an “Oxymoron” is: “When I am weak, then am I strong”                  (2 Cor.12:10). Shakespeare employed the same figure when he penned the words, “the most unkindest cut of all.”
Even though Paul probably used a Figure of Speech in Ephesians 3:8, it should be pointed out that there seems to be a principle of service involved which transcends dispensational boundary lines. Simply stated—“the least shall be first.” This is a Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God Truth.
“But Jesus called them unto Him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [i.e. servant];
And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:25-28).
Mark 10:42-45 are parallel passages to Matthew 20:25-28. Again, the Lord Jesus taught this principle as it related to the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God:
“But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
And He sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:34-35).
Another way the Lord Jesus Christ expressed this principle was, “But many that are first (i.e. in this life) shall be last (i.e. in the resurrection): and the last shall be first”      (Matt. 19:30, Mark 10:31).
It is noted that this “Day of Christ” principle—the last being first is one of humility of service; ministering to others. In fact, Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 29:18-19 that, “ … Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, Serving the Lord with all humility of mind.”
Following this principle more closely, the subsequent verses should be considered:
“But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted”            (Matt. 23:11-12).
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:4).
“ …for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
The Apostle Paul certainly embraced this truth for himself.
“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor.4:5).
Notice the question which Paul asked:
“Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?” (2 Cor. 11:7).
Again, the Apostle expresses his heart attitude which was a result of his knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1 Cor. 9:19).
After the Pentecostal Dispensation ended, Paul received the revelation of the Mystery. His years of service resulted in him being able to say, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound” (Phil. 4:12).
 “ …I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8)
Paul counted all things that could have made him first, or exalted—but loss. His reason being, that he might “win Christ.” The idea is that being humbled in this life, that he may be exalted in resurrection This attitude was the underlying principle involved in his exhortation to the Philippians.
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Phil. 2:4-5).
“But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name” (Phil.2: 7-9).
The principle of humility of service carries over from the Pentecostal Dispensation to the Dispensation of the Mystery: this is “as the Truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). Paul had certainly “heard Him, and [had] been taught by Him” (Eph. 4:21). With this in mind, we begin to comprehend Paul’s heart attitude toward “the gift of the GRACE OF GOD” given unto him as he said:
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).