Disciplined By Grace
By the Power of God
by J. F. Strombeck
It is difficult for many to grasp fully the truth that salvation from the penalty of sin is the work of God and of Him alone. All God does in redeeming, reconciling and justifying man and in giving him a new eternal life, is of God alone. Man can contribute nothing thereto. Difficult as this is for man to see, it seems even more difficult for the saved to realize that the life which God expects them to live is not of themselves, but by His Own power. Because of this lack of understanding, many believers strive in their own strength for high ideals of moral conduct, instead of yielding themselves to the power of God which will enable them to live according to the high divine standards under grace. When these high standards of life under grace are seen to be on a divine plane, it becomes evident that something more than human resources is needed. Divine power alone can produce a divine order of life.
The fact that the true life under grace is one of complete dependence upon God is evidence that that life must be lived by the power of God. If that life could be lived in the power of the believer, it would become a life of dependence upon self and not in dependence upon God.
In the teachings of grace great emphasis is placed upon the fact that it is God Who works. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). "Now the God of peace…Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight" (Heb. 13:20, 21). "So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase" (I Cor. 3:7). In writing about spiritual gifts and the true ministry Paul said, "And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all" (I Cor. 12:6).
Furthermore, to show that the power of the life under grace is of God, special emphasis is placed upon the weakness of man. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Cor. 4:7). "But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God" (2 Cor. 1:9). "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God" (2 Cor. 3:5).
The admonition "yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13) shows that the power is of God and not of man for the instrument is powerless apart from the master's control. This makes it important to distinguish between trying to serve God and being used of God. It should also be recognized that God does not desire to help believers do things for Him; He desires to do the work Himself through them. Because grace is that which God, and He alone does, the true life under grace has all its sources in Him. It follows then that whenever there is failure in the life of a saved person it is due to dependence upon self, instead of God. This does not relieve the believer of responsibility for his life, but that responsibility is to yield to the control of God.
While salvation is of God, it is through Jesus Christ; so also godly living which is of God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). He also said, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me" (John 6:57). And Paul said, "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). He also said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13). "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37). "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57). "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and make manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place" (2 Cor. 2:14). Paul admonished believers to be "filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:11); and to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might" (Eph. 6:10).
All of these passages clearly teach that attainment to the high divine standards of the life under grace is something more than to determine in the heart, as Daniel did, not to be defiled by the meat of the King's table. They can only be accomplished through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is impossible to live the true life under grace apart from Him. The popular idea that Christ goes alongside of the believer to lead, does not adequately describe His presence and work. He is in, not merely with all who believe in Him.
The divine way of life is not imposed upon the believer from without; it flows out from within as naturally as a spring. It is the outflowing of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God from the inner-most being of the believer. Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, as the Scriptures hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:38-39 R.V.).
It is clear, then, that godly living is not merely a suppression of the desires of the natural man. In the seventh chapter of Romans, Paul described the struggle and failure in a life where an effort to suppress the evil is the controlling principle. He said, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do" (vs. 15, 18, 19). Then he exclaims, "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (v. 24). But he also answered this question, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us [it is in us, not by us] who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 7:25 and 8:2, 4). To the Galatians Paul wrote, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16). "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, pace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 5:22-23). Notice that these things are the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit is not by a law that restricts and restrains, it is by a law of life within.
These passages all teach that godly living is the natural result of the operation of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is just as natural as fruit growing on a tree. When fruit is not evident, there are things in the life which hinder the operation of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Peter attributed to the Spirit the purification of the souls in obeying the truth (1 Pet. 1:22). And Paul attributed all the things that Christ wrought by him to the power of the Spirit of God, and prayed for all believers that they might "be strengthened with might by his [the Father's] Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16).
The true life, then, which is taught by grace is not, as is so commonly thought, a life lived by the individual with some assistance from God at crucial times; but is rather a life of God Himself, by Jesus Christ, His Son, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is manifested in those who are yielded to God and are willing to do His will. ˘
This was excerpted from "Disiplined By Grace" reprinted by Kregel Publications.
John Fredrick Strombeck (Dec. 6, 1881 - May 9, 1959) was a Christian businessman who placed his trust in the finished work of Christ early in life. Over the years he served the Lord as a director or advisor to the Belgian Gospel Mission, Dallas Theological Seminary, Moody Bible Institute, etc. With a great desire to communicate the truths of God's grace, J.F. Strombeck authored 5 books: So Great Salvation, Shall Never Perish, Grace and Truth, Disciplined by Grace, and First the Rapture.
July / August 1998 Menu