Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Superduper, superabundant, superabounding Grace!

I think Paul made a word up. I can't prove it, and I'm certain there's evidence to the contrary, but I want to believe Paul that made a word up because he needed a special word to properly describe an exceptional attribute of God! It's a word that probably caused many to think that the apostle Paul was getting carried away. But in actual fact, the big huge word hyperperisseuo reveals the heart of God in a very special way!

Perisseuo basically means "to superabound"! Not just to abound, but to superabound. To abound, according to Mr. Webster, means to be plentiful or prevalent. So to superabound must mean to be super-plentiful, super-abundant! I love the word perisseuo. Paul uses it over two dozen times in his letters. It's a fascinating study to see what Paul wants to see superabounding. He exhorted followers of Christ to superabound in love for one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12), in hope in God (Romans 15:13), in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7), in rejoicing in Jesus (Philippians 1:26) and in much, much more!

But if perisseuo means to superabound, I'm sure you can imagine what hyperperisseuo means. We're talking super-duper-abounding! Hyper-active-abounding! It literally means to abound exceedingly, beyond measure  to ultra-superabound! What a word!

But it's the context in which Paul uses this fantastic word that is really exciting. He only uses the word hyperperisseuo twice in all his letters, and in Romans 5:20, it refers to God's grace: "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound [the Greek word here means to superabound]. But where sin abounded [superabounded], grace abounded much more." Those last three English words are the one Greek word, hyperperrisseuo, or super-duper-abounded!

Paul is writing here about supernatural superabounding. We have our earthly examples of abounding, such as an apple tree laden with fruit at picking time, or a rushing waterfall during spring thaw in the mountains. And we have earthly examples of superabounding, such as our propensity to sin again and again and again (Romans 5:20). How disheartening that such a word can be applicable to the level of sin that's in our lives.

But God has a response to that sin. If sin superabounds, then the grace of God exceedingly superabounds. In other words, no matter how much we sin, God's grace superabounds beyond measure over and above that sin, however much that may be! There's simply no limit to God's grace.

So when we stumble in sin, there's no reason to let that discourage us if we're prepared to live in God's unlimited, ever-exceeding, super-duper abounding grace. Because for those who trust in God's greatest expression of grace  giving His Son to willingly die for us – God's grace will always abound far more abundantly than our sins. 

No wonder Paul anticipated the objection that he appeared to be saying that it's okay to sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-2). Paul rejected that suggestion without retracting his insistence that there will always be enough grace for us to be forgiven, no matter how many times we've failed. And that's because of God's hyperperisseuo grace!

© 2015 by Ken Peters

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Something I never get tired of hearing

There are some statements in the Bible that never cease to amaze me. I'm talking about verses that stop me in my tracks nearly every time I read them, and perhaps they always should! It happened again when I read for the umpteenth time Romans 3:20-21... "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe."

To think that the righteousness of God can be found in any of us apart from how well we've done at keeping God's law is staggering! It simply doesn't matter how many do's we've done or how many don'ts we haven't done. The righteousness of God is available to us all through faith in Jesus!

Righteousness apart from rules seems like an oxymoron. But here it is  God granting to us a righteousness that is the result of our faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in all that He accomplished for us on the cross. Such faith is Abrahamic faith: "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). This is the ultimate pressure-reliever, as God takes the burden of performing perfectly off of our shoulders and lays on us the gentle robe of righteousness that His Son Jesus bought for us at the cross. 

I never seem to get tired of hearing that: "the righteousness of God apart from the law"  "the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ." So we can stop measuring ourselves, constantly checking if we're doing okay, worried that we're not good enough, and simply enjoy the God who not only makes us righteous in His eyes, but also helps us each day to live righteously in this world.

© 2015 by Ken Peters

Thursday, November 5, 2015

He gives us the very thing He longs to find in us

I think I can safely assume that not many people think very often about circumcision. And it's not often that God brings it up in my devotional life with Him. But it has happened. Picking up the apostle Paul in mid-sentence, I was reading, "...nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but... circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God" (Romans 2:28-29).

As I read that, it struck me that God cares so much more about our hearts than He does about outward things. Perhaps that's because He knows that outward conformity doesn't translate into heart-change the way a changed heart translates into a change in behaviour. Perhaps it's because He knows that outward conformity cannot produce intimacy with Him, but that only a true heart-change can bring about greater closeness between ourselves and God. That must be why God cares so much about our hearts. 

What's encouraging about this focus on the heart is the fact that doing so not only results in God being pleased with us  "praise... from God"  but also releases us from having to earn God's praise. Can you imagine that? We typically only think of Biblical praise as being toward God, but Romans 2:29 speaks of God praising us! But the heart that God praises is a heart that has been given to us from God, and in which Jesus rules and reigns. He won't praise us for anything that's of our own making or done by our own efforts. When Jesus is invited to dwell in our hearts by His Spirit, God gives us new hearts so that we can live for Him, enjoy Him, and also be enjoyed by Him! And these new hearts have no interest in people's praise (which is often focused on what people see on the outside), but are instead, captivated by God's pleasure in us. 

That is so freeing because the very thing that pleases God the most  a heart dedicated to Him  is the same thing that we can totally depend on God to create in us! He is the one who gives us a heart that pleases Him. Our part is to simply draw near to God and keep our hearts focused on Him (rather than on our outward performance), and God will then do His part of keeping our hearts soft and responsive to Him, thereby allowing us to find incomparable pleasure in His infinite pleasure in us.

© 2015 by Ken Peters