Grace is “undeserved favor.” The grace of God is His granting of good things to those who only deserve punishment. The word sufficient means “adequate” or “enough.” Sufficient grace speaks of the grace of God that grants salvation, preservation, and everything else that the believer needs in this life and in the life to come.
Sufficient grace is not a biblical term but rather a technical description of the grace of God as revealed in Scripture. The only time the two words are used together in Scripture is in 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul had some form of physical affliction that caused him real difficulty. No doubt he thought he would be able to serve the Lord more effectively if he did not have this physical ailment to slow him down. He says he asked the Lord repeatedly to take it away from him, but the Lord’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, in this case, God showed grace to Paul not by removing the ailment but by giving him the ability to endure it. In response Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
The concept of sufficient grace is that God’s grace is adequate (sufficient) for anything we need. First, we need salvation and forgiveness of sin. God’s grace provides that for all who will accept it. Then, the believer needs grace to live the Christian life. God’s grace is sufficient here whether the believer experiences poverty or plenty, pain or pleasure. Often, Christians wonder how they could possibly survive persecution and hardship they have read about in other times or hear about in other places. A Christian might wonder, “If had a gun to my head, would I deny Christ?” If all that was at work was human determination, it might be a toss-up at best. But the Christian can rely on the fact that God’s grace will be sufficient for the hardship when it arrives, even if it may not be in evidence before.
In reality, no Christian is inherently sufficient. Every Christian, left to his own devices, would fail miserably. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5) expresses the idea beautifully without using the term sufficient grace. When the time comes, God’s grace will be sufficient to carry the believer through whatever he or she may encounter. By focusing on the sufficient grace of God rather than human frailties, Christians can face the future with confidence. With Paul, Christians can enthusiastically embrace their own insufficiencies, knowing that these insufficiencies will push them toward the all-sufficient grace of God.