by David E. Strope
Ephesians 4:7 speaks of grace being given to each believer, a gift from Christ to us, His church. Specifically, Paul notes the nature of Christ’s gifts: They are the gifts of the offices. People. People placed in the church for believers’ growth, health, maturity, and benefit.
The offices of apostle and prophet do not remain in the actual people, for these people are long dead. But these offices remain through a primary product of these people’s lives, that is, the written Word of God.
The offices of evangelist (our modern-day missionaries) and pastor-teacher yet remain. Every local church surely benefits in God’s grace through the faithful servants who fill these offices.
God gives grace. Biblically defined, grace is “the favor of God given to undeserving sinners.” Grace is best seen in the person and work of Christ at Calvary (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 8:9). God’s grace that appeared in the incarnation and death of Christ brings salvation (Titus 2:11).
Yet grace is not merely what we experienced in the past; it is also God’s momentary provision for us. The grace that brings salvation is a teaching grace: “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us” (Titus 2:11–12). No matter the need or level of our trial, stress, or difficulty, God’s immediate grace is always sufficient. This grace is God’s current provision to meet our momentary need; it is the God-given desire and power given to do His will in the moment (2 Cor. 12:9–11; Phil. 2:13). God’s grace is the very power of Christ supplied by the Holy Spirit for each believer. This grace from God is the basis and power for us to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:12).
Receive and give thanks for God’s grace through Christ’s undershepherds. Let us, God’s church and God’s churches, listen carefully to Christ’s undershepherds. Hear your pastor’s counsel. Submit to his godly, Biblical guidance. Your pastor watches out for your soul, for he will give an account to Jesus, the Great Shepherd. When pastors give account, “let them do this with joy and not groaning” (Heb. 13:7, 17, ESV). Thank God for your pastor, for he speaks the Word of God to you.
Receive and give thanks for God’s grace in your church. The free interchange of grace is experienced when the church is gathering, interacting, encouraging, serving, worshiping, witnessing, and making disciples (Col. 3:16; 1 Thess. 5:12–14; Heb. 3:13). Even the very words of edification to one another are God’s means of grace (Eph. 4:29).
Give thanks for specific servants of Christ. These servants may not be your pastor or your family, but they are those whom God has particularly and specially used in your life. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so” (Prov. 3:27). I have often been refreshed through the quiet, private encouragement and affirmation of others. Don’t be miserly in your praise and appreciation for those God has used to shape your life as a follower of Christ.
The preceding is written at least in part to share my appreciation for David Gunn, director of Regular Baptist Press for the last eight years. God has led David to serve on His behalf as professor of systematic theology at Baptist Bible Seminary. As you read this, David has already begun serving there.
David worked tirelessly and faithfully with excellence for our fellowship of churches. In my short tenure as interim national representative, he was a profound encouragement and a means of God’s grace in my service. We greatly miss David’s presence in the home office, and his absence leaves have a large gap to fill. Yet even as David has been a means of grace to me and to us as a fellowship of churches, so God’s grace will meet our need as we move forward in our disciple-making ministry.
Godspeed, David. Go with our thanks, intercession, and continued fellowship in ministry for Christ.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8, ESV).
David E. Strope serves as interim national representative of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
- This article was published in the Summer 2022 Baptist Bulletin. Subscribe to the Baptist Bulletin or purchase a gift subscription. If you already subscribe to the print edition, sign up for free digital access.