1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not in vain. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
A Good Man's Estimate of HimselfA. Maclaren, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:10
Divine GraceJ. Grose, A.M.1 Corinthians 15:10
Grace in Men's ChangesJ. B. Owen, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:10
Grace, All Through1 Corinthians 15:10
Grace, Daily, Reception Of H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 15:10
Grace, Dying and LivingChristian Age1 Corinthians 15:10
Grace, Power OfT. Watson.1 Corinthians 15:10
Individuality and Self-NegationT. C. Finlayson, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:10
Individuality in the Christian LifeW. M. Taylor, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:10
On the Divine Influence in the Conversion of SinnersJohn Foster, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:10
Outward and Inward MoralityJohannes Eckhart 1 Corinthians 15:10
Paul's Estimate of HimselfAlexander Maclaren1 Corinthians 15:10
Sudden ConversionsJohn Henry Newman1 Corinthians 15:10
The Conversion of StD. Moore, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:10
The Grace of GodJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:10
The Grace of GodH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 15:10
The Grace of GodH. J. Wilmot-Buxton1 Corinthians 15:10
The Grace of God and PaulG. Type.1 Corinthians 15:10
The Grace of God not Received in VainEssex Congregational, Remembrancer1 Corinthians 15:10
The Grace of God, its Nature and EffectsBp. Perry.1 Corinthians 15:10
The Privilege of WorkingH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 15:10
Wonders of GraceH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 15:10
Difficulties in the Way of Disbelief in the Resurrection of ChristProf. Christlieb.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
How Ought the Gospel to be PreachedJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
No-Resurrection ImpossibleG. Matheson, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
Paul's GospelA. Maclaren, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
The Apostolic GospelD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
The Certainty of the GospelJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
The Gospel Which Paul PreachedJ. Cochrane, A.M.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
The Resurrection of ChristF. W. Robertson, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
The Resurrection of ChristM. Dods, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:1-12
The Exposition and Defence of the ResurrectionJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 15:1-58
Apostolic Testimony to Christ's Resurrection, and Testimony of OthersC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 15:5-11
Christ's Last AppearanceJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
Me AlsoJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
Paul an ExampleJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
Self Depreciation Must not Hinder DutyReuen Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
St. PaulC. Kingsley, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
The Conversion of Paul Viewed in Reference to His OfficeJ. H. Newman, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
The Epiphany to Saul of TarsusW. E. Boardman, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:8-11
Humility and Self AssertionJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 15:9, 10
Traits of Christian GreatnessE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 15:9, 10

No writer is more given to paradox than the Apostle Paul. An eager, impulsive nature is wont to realize vividly every side of truth that is presented, and seems consequently to fall into inconsistencies. But such a nature is usually remarkably sincere and trustworthy. Such was the case with the apostle, and no candid reader can doubt that the language of the text represents the real facts of the case.


1. Paul occupied a singular position among the apostles, inasmuch as he had not, like the others, been privileged to enjoy the society of the Divine Lord during his earthly ministry, but had been called by Christ long after the Ascension.

2. Paul took shame to himself because he had persecuted the Church of God, which had been constituted through the labours and zeal of the other apostles and their colleagues. On these two grounds he deemed himself the least of the apostles, and even unworthy of the apostolic name. Such humility is rare; it secures the approval of him who regards the lowly and raises them up, who exalts the humble and meek; it commends itself to the Master who requires a childlike spirit as a condition of entrance into the kingdom, and who pronounces a blessing upon the meek.


1. The apostolic office and dignity are attributed to the free favour of the Giver of all. "By the grace of God I am what I am." This was in accordance with Paul's own teaching that "God hath set some in the Church, first apostles." An honour like this, functions such as it involved, authority such as was connected with it, could come only from God. It is well forevery servant of Christ to accustom himself deliberately and constantly to trace up his possessions and his trust to the Divine Lord and Author of blessing.

2. Paul acknowledged that the gifts bestowed upon him had been diligently and faithfully employed. Grace had been given, and grace had been found not vain or void. That is to say, opportunities, advantages, endowments, had all been used in such a manner as that they had been continued and increased. Growing years had brought enlarged powers and enlarged usefulness and influence.

3. Paul claimed pre-eminence in labour. His calling, as the apostle of the Gentiles, involved long journeys, many hardships and privations and perils. His ardent temperament, his burning love to his Lord, his grateful and consecrated disposition, led him to undertake and to perform more than had been undertaken and performed by others. It was a necessity alike of his position and of his temperament. Yet it is observable that he no sooner claimed to be first in toil, than he reminded himself that what he did was not his doing, but the fruit of God's grace towards him. If humility passes into self assertion, self assertion returns to humility. - T.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace was not in vain.

1. Conversion.

2. Privilege.

3. Apostleship.


1. In him.

2. With him.

3. By him.


1. More abundant labours.

2. Profound humility.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

1. There are those who regard themselves as simply the effects of natural causes.

2. Others are wont to attribute their character to social and civil influences, the times and institutions in which they live.

3. There are men of great individuality and power of character who are apt to attribute to their own selves the whole skill and efficiency of their life.

4. The truly Christian man is wont to combine all these as composing a Divine providence; and led by the Spirit of God to see his life and character in its relations to God's superintending power and grace, profoundly sympathises with the text. See it illustrated in —

I. OUR PERSONAL HISTORY. No devout man can calmly consider many of the circumstances of his history without profoundly feeling that he has been guided by a wisdom greater than his own; that he is the creature of a God of goodness, who has led him in a way that he knew not.

1. The family is the grand starting place.(1) To many of you family influences seem to be the very best and brightest gifts of God. Your parents were faithful, and their whole life was an engineering for yours. Even where men go wrong, there are golden threads which were wound around their hearts by a mother's hand, and which, unwind as they may, never break, and often become a clue by which they find their way back again to God.(2) But there are many who had no such parental influences. And where a child's parents exert all their power upon him for evil, and he nevertheless grows up to honour and piety, I think he is a miracle. Such a man may truly say, "By the grace of God I, of all men, am what I am."

2. Many of us have been powerfully influenced by others than parents.(1) It may have been a brother, a sister, or an aunt who was more than father or mother to you. Or perhaps God raised up a labourer in your neighbourhood, a servant, some praying and holy nurse, some young associate, to do you a service which has stood connected with the safety of the whole of your after life.(2) On the other hand, does there not rise up before every one's memory some malign influence of associate, schoolmate, shopmate, whose shadow darkened the prospect of the soul? We often say, "I wonder that I was not ruined by such a one." And we should have been but for the grace of God.

3. Everybody can remember scenes in his early life which threatened his destruction, and many, when reflecting upon these things, are constrained to say, "I never could understand why I was not crushed." They would have been had not the way in which they were going been obstructed by the grace of God. If I had not been taken out of Boston at one time, I do not see what would have prevented me from going to destruction. I look back upon moments of wilfulness, which would have led me to serious disaster, had not events in the providence of God transpired to check me in my course and change my career.

4. Men can often look back and see that the whore complexion of their life depended upon a single choice. Nor do they know why, out of a hundred choices, they should have taken the only one that seems to them to be connected with prosperity and integrity.

5. Many can recall painful crises of their life when everything depended on a single throw. Ninety-nine chances out of a hundred were against you, and God gave you that hundredth, and by His grace you are what you are. Life is like the experience of an Alpine climber. He is met by dangers at every step; and when the ascent is accomplished, he can count twenty places where he might have been dashed in pieces for one where he was absolutely safe.

II. OUR INWARD NATURE AND DISPOSITIONS. I suppose there are but few who do not feel that there are laid up in them terrible powers, which, if set on fire of evil, would be desolation to their life. There are criminals of every description to-day whose early tendencies were as good as yours, and who had as favourable a chance as you had of making upright citizens. Now, why are they in their situation, and you in yours? There has been a grace of God which for mysterious reasons has led me in the way in which I have walked, and left them in the way in which they have walked.

III. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DIVINE LIFE IN THE SOUL. When a man looks back upon the beginning of his Christian life, and considers what his then state was, he wonders more and more at the way in which God leads him in his religious experience. At each stage, as we have gone on from one grace to another, from one victory to another, we are obliged to say, "By the grace of God I am what I am" Conclusion:

1. This is, in other words, the doctrine of man's dependence upon God. It may be so stated as to be offensive, but when it is rightfully stated it is as sweet as the doctrine of love between a child and a parent. It is natural for the weak to lean; but I think none want to lean so much as the strong. The practice of constantly depending upon God is not opposed to activity, but promotes it.

2. Out of this retrospect, and out of this sense of our dependence upon God in the past for all that we have been and all that we have had, there ought to spring a future. That same hand that has taken care of you; that same power that has taken the obstacles out of your way, or marvellously put them in your way; that same Providence that has conducted you thus far through life, yet exists, and rules over the affairs of men. "By Thy grace, O God, in the past, I have been what I have been; and by Thy grace I desire, in the future, to be what Thou wilt have me to be. Glorify Thyself, and I shall be satisfied."

(H. W. Beecher.)

This account which Paul gives of himself implies —

1. That a great change had been wrought in him.

2. That he was thankfully conscious of it.

3. That God was the Author of it. By the grace of God —

I. PAUL WAS NOT WHAT HE HAD BEEN. He had been the "chief of sinners"; he was now a humble Christian. "He was before a blasphemer, persecutor, injurious, but he obtained mercy." "And such were some of us, but we are washed," etc. The grace of God softens the heart, cleanseth the soul, sweetens the temper, etc. By its power the lion becomes a lamb, the vulture a dove, etc.

II. PAUL WAS WHAT HE DID NOT DESERVE TO BE. In ver. 9 he tells us he is "not meet to be called an apostle," etc. If the grace of God were more fully believed in and better understood, and the necessity for it more deeply felt by men, their works of merit Would not be set up in the place of the Saviour, as is too often the case. All whose hearts are changed, whose sins are forgiven, whose souls are redeemed, who are children of God, are great debtors to grace.

III. PAUL WAS WHAT HE NEVER EXPECTED TO BE. He did not expect to, be converted to Christ on his way to Damascus; and so "men who have come to scoff have remained to pray." He is found of some who seek Him not. Many who are now ministers, teachers, missionaries, were called, perhaps unexpectedly, to the work. Conclusion: What God by His grace did for Paul, He can do for us. In Paul's conversion "Jesus Christ shows forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them which shall hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." The grace of God prepared Paul for life or death — it can do this for us.

(G. Type.)

St. Paul does not say, "By creative power," nor "By providence"; but. "By the grace of God I am," etc., and adding, "And the grace which," etc. Consider —

I. WHAT THE GRACE OF GOD IS. The free favour of God shown in enlightening, sanctifying, and comforting influence of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 10:29; Hebrews 12:28; Hebrews 13:9; etc.).


1. Through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4).

2. Freely — implied in the word "grace" (Romans 11:5).

3. In use of means — sacraments, Scriptures, prayer.

4. So as not to be distinguishable from working of human mind.

5. Continuously, from moment to moment.


1. Transition from state of sin and death into state of life and holiness.

2. Progressive sanctification.

3. Desire to promote spiritual welfare of others.

4. Confidence in God as loving Father.

5. Cheerful submission to will of God.

6. Joyful expectation of future glory.


1. First clause suggests question, "Can I say?" etc.(1) Every one of us may say, By the creative power of God I am, etc. — a man endowed with reason and human affections, capable not only of sensual, but also of intellectual and social enjoyment.(2) And, By the providence of God I am. etc.(3) But can every one say, By the grace of God I am what I am — a Christian? Do my daily habits of life, objects of pursuit, etc., afford evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit upon my soul? Whosoever is absorbed with cares, etc., of world, or is addicted to uncleanness, Sabbath-breaking, or intemperance, cannot say, By the grace of God, etc.

2. To those who can say with the apostle, By the grace, etc., the second clause suggests another question: Has the grace bestowed produced its due effects? Exhortation to self-examination as to particulars, and to diligence lest we fail of, or fall from, the grace of God.

3. Do we habitually ascribe every good thought, word, and deed to the grace of God? Danger lest Satan turn good works into sin by causing us to take the merit of them.

(Bp. Perry.)

Essex Congregational, Remembrancer.

1. He had been an exceedingly great and atrocious sinner.

2. He became an eminent apostle of Christ.

3. Hence it was, as he here asserts, the free grace of God that caused the wonderful change (Romans 1:5).


1. It was not ineffectual and fruitless — "not in vain" (Isaiah 55:11; Acts 20:24; 2 Corinthians 6:1).

2. It produced more abundant labours in the cause of God. "I laboured more abundantly than they all." He does not say this in a way of boasting, but merely to show the powerful effects of Divine grace, and to silence the objections of those who could not allow that he was an apostle at all, and who he elsewhere says, had compelled him to glory. The other apostles were all unspeakably indebted to the grace of Christ, but none so much as Saul the persecutor; and never in any man was that observation of our Lord more remarkably verified, "To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much" (2 Corinthians 11:23, etc.). And he was none the less laborious as a private Christian in mortifying sin and in following after holiness (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27; Philippians 3:13).


1. He renounces the thought that he was to be considered as the performer of these labours. "I laboured; yet not I."

2. He ascribes them to the same grace of God by which he was made a Christian and an apostle. "Not I, but the grace of God which was with me."Conclusion: Learn —

1. That the wonderful grace shown to Saul the persecutor is well adapted to excite hope in the worst of sinners, and encourage them in supplicating Divine mercy. There is nothing "too hard for the Lord."

2. Wherever grace is bestowed, it effects a happy and a holy change.

3. That the doctrine of being saved by grace, instead of leading us to indulge in sin or sloth, forms the strongest argument why we should be holy and diligent.

(Essex Congregational, Remembrancer.)

Two or three years before the death of the Rev. John Newton, an aged brother in the ministry called on him to breakfast. Family prayer followed; and the portion of Scripture for the day was read to him. In it occurred the verse, "By the grace of Goal I am what I am." After the reading of this text, he uttered this affecting soliloquy: "I am not what I ought to be — ah! how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be. I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good. I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon, shall I put off mortality, and, with mortality, all sin and imperfection. Yet though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was — a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, "By the grace of God I am what I am.'"

We must ever keep in mind that we are only channels for grace, we are not even pools and reservoirs, we must have a continual supply of Divine gifts. We must have an abiding union with the Fountain of all good, or we should soon run dry, and only as fresh streams flow into us are we kept from becoming mere dry beds of sand and mire, but we know that He will never fail us. This spring is high up in heaven near the eternal throne, and it ripples down through the means of grace from the God of all grace, and we receive daily of His fulness grace for grace. Joyful truth for us, that because He lives we must live also. Till Jesus bows His head in death, we, the living members of His mystic body, can never droop nor fail. His might is our strength, His resources our never-failing supply. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christian Age.
"How is it," said a pious but anxiously worrying lady, "that I never can feel willing to die? I know I ought; I trust Christ fully, I believe in Him, and yet I don't feel willing to die." And it troubled her for years. She went to her pastor about it, and went to many friends and counsellors, but all to no purpose. No one could help her. At last an old coloured "auntie" heard her lamentations, and broke out upon her with, "Why, it isn't dying grace ye want, child; it's living grace ye want. Go ahead and do your work, and let the dying take its own time and its own grace." The lady was comforted, and thenceforth was content to grow and go step by step. When she was dying she found abundant supply of dying grace.

(Christian Age.)


1. From the bias of our fallen nature and the fallen inclinations of the flesh, we are indisposed towards spiritual things. All Scripture and experience tend to negative the idea that man has in himself any predisposition for the things of God. If he had, man might have rendered the offices of the Spirit of grace unnecessary. But as Paul saith, so may every man, "In me" — that is, in my flesh — "dwelleth no good thing." Yet was he, therefore, incapable of grace? No. "Without Me ye can do nothing," said the Lord; but lest we should be discouraged at the conviction of our utter weakness, the apostle tells us, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

2. Perhaps some of us have lost sight of this doctrine. We may have been labouring in our own strength to conform to the image of Christ, and yet our repeated failures in the attempt have not humbled us to the confession, "This thing is too high for me." If so, then let us believe it, and accept the Word of God, "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me"; and on the other hand, "No man can come unto Me, except the Father, who hath sent Me, draw him." There is the mutual co-operation between the Father and Son. The Son attracts the penitent soul to the Father, and the Father gives the pardoned soul to the Son.


1. This proposition maybe proved, as well as illustrated, by some individual instances from Scripture. Cf. Nicodemus, the Philippian gaoler, the sorcerers (Acts 19:1), and Paul. Thus, in these instances, we behold the miracles of mercy and omnipotence of grace to change and transform the hardest heart, and that the reality of such change in the inner man was demonstrated by an unmistakable change of the whole outer man. "If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is (not only) a new creature, but old things are passed away, and all things are become new."

2. But here I must point out an error, namely, the habit of satisfying ourselves with the reduction of some lusts, while we indemnify the deceitful heart by the indulgence of others; and thus the whole labour is rendered in vain. A soul can be slain by one sin as fatally as by a thousand. One stone could slay a Goliath as surely as a thousand spears. "The body of sin must be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."Conclusion: The subject suggests an application to —

1. The man of the world who sometimes excuses his frailties, saying, "I did not make myself. Blame not me that 'I am what I am.' How could I be otherwise?" Now it is freely granted that if God had proposed no remedy for the radical defect in our moral structure, we might say, "Lord, I knew Thee that Thou art a hard Man, reaping where Thou hast not sown," etc. But when, on the contrary, a scheme of salvation is offered, what a wickedness to say that God has done nothing for us, and therefore we are at liberty to retaliate and do nothing for God!

2. To that man who thinks "he is rich, and increased in goods, and in need of nothing," the terms of the text cannot apply. He has no right to say, "By the grace of God I am what I am"; but "by the corruption of nature, by the deceitfulness of the flesh, by the subtilty of Satan, by the vanity and iniquity of my own heart, and by the temptations of the world, but not by the grace of God, 'I am what I am.'"

3. The man of God is justified in the profession, "By the grace of God I am what I am." From first to last it was throughout the work of His grace that made you what you are. See that you "receive not the grace of God in vain."

(J. B. Owen, M.A.)

I. THE REASONS WHY DIVINE GRACE IS INDISPENSABLY REQUISITE TO OUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE. The progress of real religion is not only promoted by the discoveries of the understanding, but by the state of the affections. The passions of love, hope, and fear are the springs of universal obedience; and these, when directed to proper objects, regulate and amend the conduct. But the carnal mind is enmity with God. This fallen and depraved state of human nature is one of the principal reasons why Divine grace is indispensably requisite to our spiritual welfare. Without the efficacious operations of the Holy Spirit our prayers will be languid and formal, our devotions careless and insipid, and our lives irregular and unholy. What would be the state of the mind in spiritual concerns, unaided by the powerful operations of Divine grace? Would not the world, with all its fascinating charms, intervene between us and purer communion with God? Are we not, with every warning around us of the vanity of life, too much attached to present objects? Where shall we find that holy zeal which is requisite to our perseverance in a Christian course without the continual aids of Divine grace? As genuine piety is implanted in the heart by the Spirit of God, so it requires the constant aids of the same Divine power to cherish the growth of pure and undefiled religion.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE GRACE OF GOD OPERATES ON THE MIND. It usually begins by alarming the conscience and bringing us to a proper view of our danger. The value and worth of the immortal soul is then correctly understood, and the mind is alive to its chief and most important interests (Psalm 4:6). Divine grace not only operates on the mind by causing us to think seriously, when we were before careless and indifferent; but it enlightens the understanding and corrects the errors of a mistaken judgment. The efficacious aids of this Divine power are also manifest, not only in enlarging the faculties of reason, and adding a luminous distinction to the acuter determinations of the judgment, but also in directing our choice to proper objects and fixing the affections on heavenly pursuits. The grace of God operates on the mind by inclining it to the love of holiness; by cherishing every mild, peaceable, charitable, and contented disposition which flows from the real dictates of pure and undefiled religion. Divine grace does not operate on the mind by lessening our pleasures, but by regulating them. It teaches us to distinguish between those joys which are lasting, and those which only flatter to destroy. This principle, when really implanted in the heart, will uniformly influence and amend the life. Though it will not in this militant state constitute us perfect, yet it will habitually render us altered men in our character, conduct, and pursuits.

III. THE BENEFITS WHICH HAVE UNIFORMLY ARISEN FROM THE DIVINE ASSISTANCE, AND THE DUTIES INCUMBENT ON ALL WHO HAPPILY ENJOY IT. First, the mind is prepared by the influence of Divine grace for the performance of works acceptable and pleasing to God. Further, from the powerful operations of Divine grace, we shall derive not only the lively exercise of faith, genuine repentance, but the continued improvement in every Christian virtue. Our minds will be hereby elevated to the blissful enjoyment of communion with God. Let us now, then, consider the duties which are incumbent on all who happily enjoy this Divine aid. It is our duty to be diligent in the use of those means which are connected with the end. It is not in the busy crowd, or amidst the trifling and the gay, that we can have the sublimer joys of religion; but it is by a willing obedience to the commands of God, a course of habitual piety, and having our minds with our whole affections the temple of the Holy Ghost. It is our duty to avoid every pursuit which may divide us from God or lessen our love of practical holiness. Let us watch against the beginnings of vice, and more especially those temptations to which either our calling in life or our natural inclination peculiarly expose us.

(J. Grose, A.M.)

The conversion of Paul is not to be made the test of conversion in general. His case was peculiar. Deeply prejudiced against the name and religion of Christ, as well as by the mode of his education, as by the example of his connections and associates, more than ordinary means were necessary to reconcile him to the doctrines of the Cross. But we who have lived under the light of the gospel, and been encouraged from our infancy to revere its doctrines and laws, have no more warrant to look for any immediate and palpable manifestation of Divine power to convert us from sin to holiness, than to expect the gifts of prophecy or of tongues.

I. WE ARE BOUND GRATEFULLY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE INFLUENCE OF DIVINE GRACE, BOTH IN DIRECTING OUR ATTENTION TO "THE THINGS WHICH BELONG TO OUR PEACE," AND IN AIDING OUR EXERTIONS OF OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD. Generally speaking, those who are "transformed by the renewing of their minds," perceive nothing which they can distinguish as a special impulse from above; but in the exercise of their rational faculties and in the use of appointed means are eventually brought to "choose that good part which cannot be taken from them." It can hardly be otherwise, at least, with such as are virtuously educated. Without any assignable human cause, preparatory to such an effect, a deep conviction of guilt and danger, accompanied with anxious desires and endeavours to obtain forgiveness and salvation, suddenly succeed a course of heedless inattention, neglect, and rebellion.


1. We are led to remark the necessity of Divine assistance in the conversion and sanctification of sinful men.

2. We are taught that no trust is to be reposed in any impressions, however serious, or in any resolutions, however sincere, at the moment, which do not issue in a life of uniform virtue and godliness.

3. We are furnished with a test by which to ascertain and determine our spiritual state.

4. We may infer the paramount obligations imposed upon us to exercise charity toward all who exemplify an undissembled attachment to the cause of Christ — though they presume not confidently to describe the manner nor even to assert the reality of their "deliverance from darkness to light," etc.

(John Foster, D.D.)

"By the grace of God I am" — and he is going to say what he is, but he bethinks himself, as if he had reflected. "No! I will leave other people to say what that is! By the grace of God I am — what I am: whatever that be. And all that I have to say is that God made me, and that I helped Him. For the grace of God which was bestowed upon me was not in vain. You Corinthians may judge what the product is. I tell you how it has come about."

I. AS TO THE ONE POWER THAT MAKES MEN. "By the grace of God I am what I am." Now that word "grace" has got to be worn threadbare, and to mean next to nothing in the minds of many. But Paul had a very definite idea of what he meant by it; and what he meant by it was a very large thing, as being the only thing which will transform character and produce fruit that a man need not be ashamed of. The grace of God, in Paul's use of the words, implies these two things which are connected as root and product — the active love of God in exercise towards us sinful creatures, and the gifts with which that love comes full charged to men. What is it that men need most for noble and pure living? These two things precisely: motive and power to carry out the dictates of conscience. Every man in the world knows enough of duty and of right to be a far nobler man than any man in the world is. And it is not for want of clear convictions of duty, it is not for want of recognised patterns of life, that men go wrong; but it is because there are these two things lacking, motives for nobler service, and power to do and be what they know they ought to be. And precisely here Paul's gospel comes in, "By the grace of God I am what I am." That grace, considered in its two sides of love and of giving, supplies all that we want.. It supplies motives. There is nothing that will bend a man's will like the recognition of Divine love which it is blessedness to come in contact with, and to obey. You may try to sway him by motives of advantage and self-interest, and there is no adequate response. You cannot soften a heart by the hammers of the law. You cannot force a man to do right by brandishing before him the whip that punishes doing wrong. You cannot sway the will by anything but the heart; and when you can touch that deepest spring it moves the whole mass. The other aspect of this same great word is, in like manner, that which we need. What men want is, first of all, the will to be noble and good; and, second, the power to carry out the will. It is God that worketh in us both the willing and the doing. I venture to affirm that. there is no power known, either to thinkers, or philanthropists, or doctrinaires, or strivers after excellence in the world, which will lift a life to such heights of beauty and self-sacrificing nobility as will the power that comes to us by communication of the grace that is in Jesus Christ. And now, if that be true, what follows? Surely this, that for all you have, in any measure, caught a glimpse of what you ought to be, and have been more or less vainly trying to realise your ideal, there is a better way than the way of self-centred and self-dependent effort. All noble life is a building up by slow degrees from the foundation. And can you and I complete the task with our own limited resources and our own feeble strengths? Will not "all that pass by begin to mock" us and say, "this man began to build and was not able to finish"? I need not, I suppose, linger to remind you what important and large lessons these thoughts carry, not only for men who are trying to work at the task of mending and making their own characters, but on the larger scale, for all who seek to benefit and elevate their fellows. Nothing will truly re-form humanity, society, the nation, the city, except that which re-creates the individual; "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" entering into their midst.

II. Notice the lesson we get here AS TO HOW WE SHOULD THINK OF OUR OWN ATTAINMENTS. Well, then, it is not necessary for a man to be ignorant, or to pretend that he is ignorant, of what he can do. We hear a great deal about the unconsciousness of genius. There is a partial truth in it; and possibly the highest examples of power and success, in any department of mental or intellectual effort, are unaware of their achievements and stature. But if a man can do a certain kind of service, there is no harm whatever in his recognising the fact that he can do it. But the less we think about ourselves, in any way, the better. The more entire our recognition of the influx of grace on which we depend for keeping our reservoir full, the less likelihood there will be of touchy self-assertion, the less likelihood of the misuse of the powers that we have. If we are to do much for God, if we are to keep what we have already attained, we must make a conscious effort to copy these two things, which marked the apostle's estimate of himself — a distinct recognition that we are only reservoirs and nothing more — "What hast thou that thou hast not received? Why then dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?" — and a humble waiving aside of the attempt to determine what it is that we are.

III. Lastly, one word about THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR CO-OPERATION WITH THE GRACE, IN ORDER TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ITS RESULTS. "The grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain," says Paul. "Not I, but the grace of God which was with me, and so I laboured more abundantly than they all." That is to say, God in His giving love, Christ with His ever out-flowing Spirit, play round our hearts and desire to enter. But the grace, the love, the gifts of the love may all be put away by our unfaithfulness, by our non-receptivity, by our misuse, and by our negligence. Paul yielded himself to. the grace that was brought to work upon him. Paul said, "By the grace of God I am what I am." This man, because he knew that he had submitted himself to the often painful searching, crucifying, self-restraining, and stimulating influences of the gospel and Spirit of Christ, could say, "God's grace has made me what I am, and I helped Him to make me." And can you say anything like that? Take your life. In how many of its deeds has there been present the consciousness of God and His love? Is it the grace of God, or nature and self and the world and the flesh that have made you what you are? Oh, let us cultivate the sense of our need of this Divine help, for it does not come where men do not know how weak they are, and how much they want it. The mountain tops are high. Yes, and they are dry; there is no water there. The rivers run in the green valleys deep down. "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." Let us see that we open our hearts to the reception of these quickening and cleansing influences, for it is possible for us to cover ourselves over with such an impenetrable covering that that grace cannot pass through it. Let us see to it that we keep ourselves in close contact with the foundation of all this grace.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Grace infuseth a spirit of activity into a person; grace doth not lie dormant in the soul; it is not a sleepy habit, but it makes a Christian like a seraphim, swift-winged in his heavenly motions. Grace is like fire, it makes one burn in love to God.

(T. Watson.)

I recollect the story of a traveller who at night shouted to the keeper of a toll-bridge to let the gate rise that he might pass through. There was a terrific storm raging, the night was deluged in darkness, and the man could scarcely be prevailed upon, in his tremor, to come out. When he did come out, he found the traveller on the bridge side of the gate, and said to him, "In the name of God, where did you come from?" The traveller replied, "I crossed the bridge." The man kept him that night, and the next morning took him back and showed him the bridge which he had crossed. The planks had all been taken up, so that nothing remained except the string-pieces, which were stretched from one side to the other of the chasm. The story has it that his faithful steed took the centre one of these beams, a hundred feet, beneath which was rushing a swollen flood, and, dark as the night was, carried him safely across. The man at the time did not know but that he was crossing a regular bridge; and in the morning, when he saw how near be came to being dashed to pieces, he fainted. Are there not many, men that can look back and see that the providence of God has carried them across the bridge over the pit of destruction on a single beam?

(H. W. Beecher.)

Paul: —


1. He was a pardoned and recovered sinner.(1) It could not be other than a matter of grateful reflection to this apostle that he was no longer, as he once was, a persecutor, blasphemer, etc. "Who or what opened my eyes? Did the wisdom of Gamaliel do it? Did my own strong powers of reasoning do it? Did the light of nature or of conscience do it? No, it was light from heaven — fresh, direct, undesired, unsought. It was convincing light, for I was made to perceive it was the Lord which spake to me out of the fire. It was melting and subduing light, for, in a moment, all my iron enmities of soul were broken. Tell me, ye that think lightly of the grace of God, what hand had Saul of Tarsus in all this?"(2) And to the same Divine influence would the apostle refer the change of. mind and spirit and temper which followed upon his conversion. His original temperament was not one to fall in easily with the meekness and gentleness of the gospel character. He was proud, he was hasty, he was self-confident, he was impatient of contradiction or control. Not without much struggle and effort, we may be sure, was a spirit like this brought into subjection (Romans 7). The grace which makes strong in Christ Jesus comes to the rescue, and to the agonising and bewildered cry, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" his own soul makes answer, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." His grace is sufficient for me.

2. He changed his former views as a Pharisee, and embraced those which he now held as to what would constitute acceptance before God. His own account of himself is in Philippians 3:4-6. Yet how does he estimate these privileges on becoming a Christian? Why, as worthless, and something more (Philippians 3:7-9).

3. He became a chosen vessel unto Christ to preach and teach in His name. Certainly nothing could be more unlikely than the choice of such a man to such a work. The feeling wrought upon him powerfully to the end of his days. "Necessity was laid upon me," etc.


1. It is a law of all worlds that, in the way of anything good in His creatures, God alone maketh us to differ. I might go through the ranks of the Seraphim, and single out one who stood nearest to the throne, and were I to say to him, "What raised thee thus high?" he would make answer, "By the grace of God I am what I am." I might thread my way through the mansions of the just, but if I should be betrayed into the exclamation, "What a recompense for good works is here!" in an instant ten thousand voices would testify aloud, "By the grace of God I am what I am." Or I might go to one who, through fourscore years of temptation and trail, had ever walked with God; or to one whose unselfish Christianity had prompted him to spend and be spent in his Master's service; or to one laid low by suffering; yet if I should say, "There must be a claim to moral worthiness here," again the response would be, "By the grace of God I am what I am."

2. All true conversion must have its origin in a Divine influence. If I am very far gone from original righteousness, nothing but an influence from on high can bring me back; if "dead in trespasses and sins," nothing short of a regenerating process can give me life.

3. True conversion extends to the whole character. Look at the proof of this in Paul. See it —(1) In the illumination of his mind. He had studied under Gamaliel, yet after his conversion he counts all foolishness.(2) In his ambitions, and aims, and preferences. Things which had been once a gain to him are now counted as loss.(3) In the change in his moral temperament, in the casting off of a bitter, furious hate for a spirit of religious gentleness. And in like manner should we look for the evidence of the spiritual change in improved moral character. Conversion implies not only something turned from, but something turned to — from the world to Christ, from sin to holiness, etc.

4. The grace which has made you what you are alone can make you what you desire to be —

(1)Established in holiness.

(2)Prepared for death.

(3)meet for your appearing before the great white throne. He who begins must finish.

(D. Moore, M.A.)

I laboured more abundantly than they all
(text, and Galatians 2:20): — "I, yet not I" is characteristic of Paul. He knew himself. He did not ignore self. In his life, as a man and an apostle, he took the proportions of his own personality, and at the same time confessed that all the operative grace came from God. The "I" within him was regenerated.

I. EVERY MAN MUST RECOGNISE HIS OWN INDIVIDUALITY. Some say that this is an intuition, and others say that it is a conviction which comes with experience. But to us the constituent elements in self are more important. Though there is a generic likeness among men, yet each person has his own individuality. One is calm, another explosive; one logical, another intuitional; one prosaic, another poetic. Hence we have a Shakespeare and Milton, a Bacon and a Butler.

II. REGENERATION DOES NOT DESTROY THIS INDIVIDUALITY. If Christ be in you, you are "a new creature." Your features are the same, though sweetened or calmed, perhaps, by the peace of God; your intellect is the same, though quickened by the new life of faith and hope. If cheerful, you are still cheerful; and if born with tendencies to melancholy, you will still contend with the temptation to despondency. Peter was Peter to the last. The same vehemency that Paul the persecutor exhibited was shown in Paul the apostle. In the annual regeneration of the visible creation, in the plumage and song of the bird, and in the renewing verdure of field and garden, we see pictured the unity yet beautiful variety which prevails in the world which God has made.

III. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IN HIS WORK IN A MAN USES THIS INDIVIDUALITY. It colours and qualifies the whole activity of a person.

1. See how it appears in the writing of the Scriptures. They are Divinely inspired, and yet the human and Divine elements are mingled. David well says, "His word was in my tongue." Moses was wise in the wisdom of Egypt, and shows it in his writings. The lyrics of David differ from the proverbs of Solomon. The grandeur of Isaiah contrasts with the homely verse of the rude herdsman Amos. The pungency of James and the weird magnificence of Revelation again show the "I and yet not I."

2. So in character. Peter was fitted to minister to the circumcision and Paul to the Gentiles. , Luther, Wesley, Whitfield, etc., reveal the same principle. In the Church to-day one is fitted for Sunday-school teaching and another for mission work. As in an orchestra each instrument has its place, and its absence cannot be filled by a different instrument, so there is a place and work for each in the Church. We must give full play to the inspiring and directing Spirit of God within us.

3. We must trace the actual results to the operation of the Spirit in us and through us. Give glory to Him who uses us. In a factory the machinery does variety of work, but derives all its motive power from the engine. Is there anything too hard for God?Conclusion:

1. Respect your individuality, and at the same time give God the glory of what you are and do. Live your own life, and do not fancy that your experience is to be like your neighbour's. David was powerless wearing the armour of Saul.

2. Be sure that Christ is in you and in your work. He is an inner fountain, and He will evoke your life as a productive and perennial stream.

3. Let your humble and hearty utterance ever be, "Not unto us, not unto us," etc.

(W. M. Taylor, D.D.) l


1. The more "self" and the less "self" there is in any man the nobler he is. This sounds paradoxical, but man himself is a paradox. He "lives, moves, and has his being" in Another, and yet is distinct from that Other. This distinctive personality God seeks to fill out of His own fulness with a rich and noble life.

2. Our ordinary language bears witness to this truth. "Self-will," "self-seeking," "self-indulgence" we regard as the essence of vice, and "self-sacrifice" as the climax of virtue; yet we commend "self-reliance." We admire "self-possession," but laugh at "self-complacency"; and, whilst disgusted by "self-righteousness," we honour "self-respect." We say of a man that he "quite lost himself" — "quite forgot himself." We may be uttering either the highest praise or the severest censure. And although we commonly speak of "self-consciousness" as a fault, yet we feel that a certain consciousness of self is inseparable from all true greatness.

3. In our estimates of men we pronounce that character defective which lacks either individuality or self-negation.(1) Here, e.g., is a man whose individuality is clearly enough marked; he thinks for himself, but he may pride himself on his position or his attainments instead of recognising his "stewardship" and using his gifts for the benefit of his brethren. He can say "I," but he has yet to learn to say "Not I." Here, again, is a man who is always deferring to the opinions of others; but then he has no decided opinions of his own. He is often giving up his own will, but he has but little will to give up. He is modest, but sometimes he is too modest even to do his duty. In such a man there may be much to love, but he would he a nobler man if, whilst still able to say "Not I," he could also say "I." Humility is most divine when it is the lowliness of a great soul. And self-sacrifice is lofty in proportion to the greatness and worth of that "self" which is sacrificed.

4. The text is well illustrated by the character of the apostle. We scarcely know which is the more striking — Paul's individuality or his self-negation. He says that he is "the least of all the apostles," and then that he is "not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." He is conscious of his own unworthiness, and also of the high honour which God has put upon him. His letters are full of dignified self-assertion and noble independence, and yet he speaks as if he had no separate life at all. "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."

5. We see the positive and negative poles of the same attractive nobleness in Christ Himself. "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me." In one view Christ's ministry was a self-proclamation. "I am the Light of the world," etc. In another view it was a self-negation. "I can of Mine own self do nothing."


1. The human creature is at first thrown entirely upon the care of others, and yet from the first also he has a body distinctively his own. The processes of "isolation" and association go on together. His needs, desires, pleasures, pains, and, alas! sins, all lead him to say "I"; his dependence on his mother's love, etc., leads him to feel "Not I."

2. This education God carries on throughout our whole life.(1) He brings us into circumstances when we must think and act for ourselves, but He likewise so binds us together that we are often impelled to yield up our own will to the will of others. Love and duty call upon us to sacrifice self for the good of our brethren, and yet they sometimes call us to stand upon our rights.(2) God has also brought man into such relations with the material world as to give him a feeling at once of greatness and of nothingness. Look at the capacities of the body in health and its impotence in disease. You listen to the poet, philosopher, or man of science, and you see the height to which the mind may rise; you walk through the wards of the asylum, and see the depth to which it may fall! How insignificant, too — and yet how mighty — is man in presence of the powers of nature! And in front of those forces the very condition of our being able to stand up and say "I" is that we learn to say "Not I."(3) God carries on this same process of education through the medium of His providence. His "gentleness makes us great" — evoking our powers, whilst the awfulness of His mysterious visitations humbles us to the dust.(4) The gospel of Christ is fitted to develop this same composite character. Its word is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." And every Christian is taught by the gospel to recognise his individual responsibility and privileges, and thus he may well feel and say "I." On the other hand the gospel also cultivates the spirit which leads a man to say "Not I." Its very first call addresses him as a sinner, and summons him to repentance. The faith which "justifies" "excludes boasting." He is also perpetually reminded that he is "not his own," and that he is bound to present his whole nature as a "living sacrifice" to God. And the gospel leads him into Christian fellowship, and summons him to the help of the brethren.

3. And this same process of education God carries on even unto the end. To die — it is to feel how insignificant I am — how the great world will move on all the same without me! and yet it is to feel the preciousness of my own being as I never felt it before. Alone I must pass through this valley of the shadow, and yet this lonely road is the great highway which all the generations of men have trod before me.

4. This same feeling — "I, yet not I" — will abide with each of the redeemed in heaven. Heaven is not selfish enjoyment. The "faithful servant" enters into "the joy of his Lord." Yet heaven is not "absorption into the Divine essence." There is no destruction of personality in "the Father's house." Each child has a "place prepared" for him.

(T. C. Finlayson, D.D.)

No one ever had —

1. A more vivid sense of the grandeur of the work which God was carrying on in the earth than the Apostle Paul.

2. More of esprit de corps. He knew well who was working with him, and understood perfectly the grandeur of the campaign on which he had entered.

3. So grand and magnificent a sense of the final outcome of God's moral government over this world as he. Learn —(1) This subject may comfort those who are weary of work, or, rather, rebuke and convert them.(2) It is our duty to work as long as there is work, and we have strength to do it.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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