Cooperating With Grace

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3:1-3).


“Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish composer-painist, was once scheduled to perform at a great American concert hall for a high-society extravaganza. In the audience was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, the boy slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the Steinway on the stage. Without much notice from the audience, he sat down at the stool and began playing ‘chopsticks.’ The roar of the crowd turned to shouts as hundreds yelled, ‘Get that boy away from there!’ When Paderewski heard the uproar backstage, he grabbed his coat and rushed over behind the boy. Reaching around him from behind, the master began to improvise a countermelody to ‘Chopsticks.’ As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear, ‘Keep going. Don’t quit, son … don’t stop … don’t stop.’ [1]

A.J. Gordon observed, The method of grace is precisely the reverse of the method of legalism. Legalism is holiness in order to have union with God; with grace, it is union with God in order to experience holiness.[2]

How can we cooperate with God’s grace so that the indwelling life of Christ may be manifested through us? Some key responsibilities include:

1. Reckoning yourself alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:4-11)

2. Living according to “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2-4, 9-11).

3. Putting off the ways of the flesh (Col 3:4-10).

4. Walking in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16).

Charles Trumbull was editor of the Sunday School Times for about the first 40 years of the 1900’s. His life was greatly blessed through a sermon he heard in Edinburgh in 1910 on the Resources of Christian Living. He was surprised at the speaker’s thesis: the resources of the Christian life are — Jesus Christ! God continued to illumine Trumbull to the life-transforming truths of Christ as life. The results in his experience included a steady communion with God, a freedom from besetting sins, and an evidence of the Spirit’s power in changing lives through his ministry.

Trumbull summarized the basic conditions for fully cooperating with God’s grace this way:

“What are the two conditions of this victorious life? Only two, and they are very simple. Surrender and faith … Is there anything in your life this moment that you know you have been with-holding from the Lord? Won’t you just tell Him you now turn over to Him, for time and eternity, all that you have and all that you are, for His complete mastery and use? Every habit of your life, every ambition, every hope, every loved one, every possession, and yourself–all these He must have if He is to make Himself not only your Savior but your Life.

“… For after you have put yourself unreservedly and completely under the mastery of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you must remember that it at once becomes His responsibility, His–I say it reverently–duty to keep you from the power of sin. He pledges Himself to do so. ‘Sin shall not have dominion over you,’ He says, ‘For you are not under law (where your works have something to do with it) but under grace’ (Rom. 6:14). Elsewhere He adds, ‘My grace is sufficient for Thee’ (2 Cor. 12:9). So it is that our Lord has just been waiting for you, not to pray for victory, but to praise Him for victory.” [3]

As you abide in Christ, the Holy Spirit whispers, “Keep going. Don’t quit,…don’t stop…”

Our Father, guide us to set our minds on our spiritual union with Christ. Help us daily to surrender to your good, acceptable and perfect will. We trust You to do through us what we cannot do in our own strength. In Christ’s wonderful name we pray, amen.

[1] Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute, Jan, 1992, p.8.

[2] A.J. Gordon, In Christ, p. 11.

[3] Charles Trumbull, Victory in Christ, p.14,15.

Copyright 1998 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use if credit is given to

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