in the Christian Library
John L. Kachelman, Jr.
I. Any who have read John Bunyan's literature will recall the description
of "Interpreter" taking "Christian" to a place where a fire was burning
against a wall and another figure was throwing water on the fire but could
never quench the flames; the fire grew higher and higher. Christian asked,
"What means this?" And the Interpreter answered, "This fire is the work
of grace in the heart; he who casts water upon it is the devil; but, in
that thou seest the fire burn higher and hotter thou shalt see the reason
of that." He took him around to the backside of the wall where he saw a
man secretly pouring oil into the fire. The "Man" was Christ who poured
the oil of grace and maintained the fire of devotion in the heart. As long
as the oil of grace was available, the flames of devotion burned hot and
high and no efforts by Satan could extinguish them!
II. The very last words of the book of Philemon speak about that which
Bunyan's pen described -- the grace of God which keeps alive the flames
of devoted service.
1. This is the "benediction" of the letter and is typical of Paul's
letters (cf. Ro 16:20,24; 1 Co 16:23; etc.). It forms a prayer-wish for
Philemon and his household.
2. Within this verse is an implied lifestyle for God's saints. Actually,
this lifestyle has been discussed throughout the book. It is a life guided
by "grace;" saturated with Christian thoughts and feelings (cf. Philip
4:8). It is a blend of the ordinary affairs of daily existence with the
gospel of Christ Jesus.
3. "Grace" was to invade and infect all elements of the readers' lives.
Such a prayer-wish is the grandest desire for any believer in Christ. A
wish of spiritual saturation, thorough commitment, and dedication to the
Lord's will (cf. Ac 20:32).
4. In an amazingly brief phrase, Paul has expressed a very profound
wish for his readers.
I. The Element Wished
A. "Grace" -- This term stands for the unmerited favor and generous
blessings which come to saints from God and through Christ Jesus. "Grace"
involves one's salvation and forgiveness, but it would also include the
abundant blessings of all spiritual benefits.
B. To possess this "grace" is to possess, in a sense, every blessing
and benefit that can come from God. Thus, it is a comprehensive desire.
No greater thought can be expressed once this one is understood.
C. Paul thus desires for his brethren a thorough saturation with this
grace -- be filled with it; allow it to sink deep into your very own soul.
The element would drastically affect all who are thus saturated.
II. The Effect Produced -- As just noted, once saints understand the
scope of this "grace" and have conformed to God's will so they can receive
this grace, dramatic changes will occur. The "gospel of practicality" is
so dramatic because it is the only means by which this "grace" can reach
our hearts. Once one has studied the gospel and allowed it to dominate
their thoughts, they will be "saturated with grace." Once one is saturated
with grace then....
A. Grace will be your thoughts as you awaken each morning (Ps 143:8;
1. With the dawn of each new day, we face the challenges of dedicating
that day to God. Often we are pulled by temptation to refuse God's just
claim to the day (Is 5:11).
2. But the soul that has been saturated with God's grace will awaken
with devotion (Ps 118:24).
3. The saturated saint knows well the prayer of Ps 143:8.
4. What about you? What are the first thoughts as you awaken each day?
Develop the habit of offering a brief prayer of thanksgiving before you
get up. As you make plans for the day, discuss them with God through prayer.
B. Grace will govern your conversation (Col 4:6).
1. The grace of God will banish all impurity and profane speech. The
whole tone of the Christian's speech is "with grace."
2. Such speech reveals the complete submission of the saint to Christ.
3. What about you? "Salt" adds flavor and delight to food. Do your words
add Christian flavor and delight to all who hear? (Col 3:17).
C. Grace will guide us in selecting friends (Ep 5:11).
1. The soul that is saturated with grace will carefully choose companions.
The influence of Christ guards against associates who indulge and condone
2. The person who is controlled by grace will draw definite lines of
exclusion and never compromise. "No fellowship" will be attempted with
the base and ungodly elements of this life all because grace reigns. There
is no pleasure in such company!
D. Grace will moderate trials and tribulations in this life (Ps 94:18,19;
1 Co 10:13).
1. The grace saturated soul does not expect a life free from pain. It
does expect a life sustained through pain because of faith and trust in
2. For all who are trusting in God, the trials of life will become more
manageable because "grace" is keeping them (Hb 12:1-33; verse 11).
3. And when those times of intense trial brings about anguish and one
faces the utter impotence of human strength, "grace" will still sustain
(Ro 8:26; Ps 46:1ff).
E. Grace will direct daily living habits (2 Co 1:12).
1. Paul's emphasis is certain -- "We live by God's gracious love, not
human wisdom" (SEB).
2. The soul that is saturated with grace does not have a problem choosing
between right and wrong -- the choice was made when the gospel was obeyed!
3. How about you? Are you living by "grace"? Can every aspect of your
secret world pass this scrutiny of God's "grace test"?
I. Perhaps the best reason for having a life saturated with grace is
found in an old illustration that spoke of life being like a roll of costly
material passing swiftly through our hands, and we must embroider our pattern
on it as it goes. We cannot wait to pick out a false stitch, or pause too
long to examine our work. As we keep our eyes forever on our great Exemplar,
we shall find that when He finishes off our work, and smooths away its
rumples, and cuts away its frayed ends, then even its spots and mistakes
fall into a purpose and plan. A life that is saturated with grace will
yield a beautiful end (Is 38:12b). Suppose your life was to hang as a tapestry
upon a wall and was open for all to see. What would it be like? Be sure
to heed Philemon 25 and make it a work of grace!
II. An artist solicited permission to paint a portrait of the Queen.
The favor was granted, and the favor was great for it would make the man's
reputation and fortune. A place was fixed and a time. At the fixed place
the Queen appeared; but the artist was not there -- he was not yet ready.
When he did arrive a message was communicated to him that her Majesty had
departed and would not return. Such will be the tale for many on the last
day. The King eternal has consented to meet man. He fixed in His covenant
and promised in His word, the object, place, and time of the meeting: it
is for salvation; it is in Christ; it is now. He has been true to His appointment,
but how many have failed to meet Him thus far because they are not "ready"
III. 1 Co 15:10 -- All that we hope to be depends upon how we respond
to God's grace. If we do not saturate our spirits with grace then...
1. Early morning plans will lack God's presence.
2. Speech will fail to edify and glorify.
3. Companions will be chosen with little regard.
4. Trials and tribulations will be intense and hopeless.
5. Day-to-day habits will be formed without God.
IV. Go back to the opening illustration -- Do not allow the fires of
your devoted service to flicker and fade because you have shut off access
to the grace of God. With grace, fires of devotion will continue to burn
high and hot!
Copyright 1998 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes
at no cost to others.