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It is good to be
able to repeat the thrust of what is in the Preface, in the Epilogue, but it is
like the two wafers on an ice-cream, bearing repetition, the better to hold in
view, the wonder of the content, here not culinary
but salve to the psyche and boon to the soul.
Indeed, it is
better yet to bring onto the scene the FAMILY OF GRACE,
of which we have distinguished 28 members, giving examples,
and of which the list will follow: namely
Sanctifying Grace, Sufficient Grace,
Sealing Grace, Surging Grace, Salient Grace, Singularising Grace,
Certifying Grace, Certain Grace,
Assuring Grace, Anointing Grace,
Conclusive Grace, Infusive Grace, Effusive Grace,
Unction Grace, Function Grace,
Longing Grace, Living Grace, Loving Grace,
Enabling Grace, Empowering Grace,
Illuminating Grace, Reviving Grace,
Longsuffering Grace, Lordly Grace, Humble Grace,
Elevating Grace, Everlasting Grace
The Signature of Grace Divine
Grace is a delightful thing; to be gracious is an attractive feature; grace with glory is to be found only in God, from whose heart it flows in brilliance unimpaired, in history unreceding, obscure to the obfuscationist, apparent to the purged - the lens of their heart made clear, the delight of His children, the hope of mankind and limit-free source of freedom, in that its love is to redeem what is lost, provide for what is fallen, seek out what is sunk and release what is bound.
It is not indiscriminate: nor is it discriminating in negative gear, but rather in liberality it is like the winds of time, the radiance of stars, coming not from an icy mass but from a spiritual fire in which no dross can remain, indestructible in it issuance, indefatigable in its realm, bringing in many sons and daughters to the family of God, with entry visas signed in blood, that of the Lord Jesus Christ: issued in pardon, conferred in love and confined to faith, in Him, whose image this same Jesus, God as man, exhibited with illimitable fidelity, the criterion of infinity, the cure for infirmity and the ingenuity for kindly development, in the paths of duty and the ways of peace.
Gratitude for such a grace is often forgotten, when contention replaces conviction, aspiration evicts reception and thankfulness disappears like a distant aeroplane on the merging horizons of time and space. It is the task of this volume, not least, to confirm on many grounds such gratitude, in the joys of such grace, and to commend the place of grace for salvation for the lost, join with the faithful in this response to Him who is divine and show that reason itself is as lost without such a response, as a tin soldier in a fog, heartless, little, misshapen in mischief, the dim core of what might have been a star.
Gratitude for the Grace in the Glory of the Lord
In this volume, in fact, there are three major stresses. The first is gratitude. To be grateful is sometimes hard for the proud; but in the kingdom of heaven there is no room for these, for blessed are the poor in spirit, and the fate of the proud, as in Isaiah 2:14ff., is not attractive.
HE DID IT: are we who are His not grateful. Is this not to be shown as gratitude is, in fealty and fondness, in joy and pride IN HIM! Is He not the One to be glorified, praised and forwarded, so that the salt is savoury and the light is radiant ?
The second aspect is GLORY. God is glorious, and the foolish efforts to achieve glory when it is not present, or divine glory when it is His, or to be glorified as man, when he is mere creation, is so inglorious as to be perhaps the most obvious noxious element in mankind, making him like a weed, a mere deception, acting like a plant, but invasive, infestive, meretricious and with a shocking smell. It is well to concentrate on the glory of God for it is inspiring, apt for His children to ponder, stirring to the depths and plants deeper depths even as we gaze upon Him (II Corinthians 3:18).
The third emphasis in this work is His grace, already given attention above.
It is not something achieved or deserved, not something grasped or deserved: it just is in His power and in His nature to dispense it, not to the noble or to the wise, not to the beautiful or to the most-performing artisans of devoted toil. It is given where it is received. HOW this comes to be has vexed the minds of many, but it need not. The scripture is perfectly explicit. GRACE is poured out, is effusive, for God WOULD HAVE ALL to be reconciled in heaven or on earth by the blood of the Cross and SAYS SO (Colossians 1:19ff.).
To be sure, man CANNOT grab it, by willing, for he is excluded by sin from perception UNTIL converted (I Corinthians 2:14). Nor is his will irrelevant, for this is the GROUND of exclusion in the face of the divine desire NOT to condemn (as in John 3:17). Indeed, it is the specially denoted REASON for exclusion (John 3:19), even in contrast to the stated divine desire for the world, on the part of Him who has given a propitiation even, not for us only who believe, but for the entire world (I John 2:2).
He does not PAY for all, for that would make payment ineffective and God a goose, and indeed those for whom specifically He has been delivered up ALL go to heaven (Romans 8:32). He DOES however make a payment adequate for all, in sincerity offered to all, so that in HIS KNOWLEDGE (and indeed foreknowledge, not of our deeds or worth, but of the reception of His grace in His own discernment, before all time - Ephesians 1:4, Romans 9): it is given to the recipients only. Equally in His love, it is with desire, pressed on all (Isaiah 48:16ff., Matthew 23:37, Colossians 1:19ff., I Timothy 2, Luke 119:42ff., Jeremiah 48:30-33, 51:8-9, Jeremiah 1-14 cf. Ch. 2).
Thus you CANNOT go to hell without this being deemed of your will, by Him in HIS KNOWLEDGE (in the scriptural action and spiritual circuit, as in Romans 8:29ff.): that you REFUSE or the equivalent, to receive Him, even the only Door to Deity, the Saviour Jesus Christ (John 10:9, 14:6, Isaiah 43:9-10). To be sure it is He who performs the salvation on His own; but it is not wrought without respect to the grounds which HE knows, of the wayward preference, seen past history and time (Ephesians 1:4), psychology and human autonomy, known to God. Unlimited by sin in His sight, who bases it not at all on any human works, of will or other, it is no ground of merit, but an avenue of grace.
THIS grace is so pure, so lacking in limiting factors based on self or selfishness or mere plan or program, is so elemental, is so rich, is so vast in scope, rich in attainment in Calvary and all that went to prepare for that, that it is like teeming rain. Someone asks you, Is it raining ? has the drought broken. You reply: raining ? why it is teeming, God be praised.
But HOW MUCH are you grateful for SUCH grace as this ? It is also elemental, as deep as life, as broad as mind, as high as holiness and as joyful as exuberance. It is like growth in Spring. You cannot contain it, for it is everywhere.
On such things does this volume dwell, and in such joy has it been presented in the name of Him in whom one dwells, and who dwells Himself in one's heart (Colossians 1:27, John 14:20).
We now proceed to meet with some individuals in the family of grace, qualities and features, denizens of grace, delights of kindness, matters of exposure and exposition from the word of God, of the ways of God in His grace.
MEETING WITH GRACE,
AND FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE GENERATION OF GRACE
12 Clusters are Discovered
1 Saving Grace,
2 Sanctifying Grace,
3 Sufficient Grace,
4 Sure Predestining Grace
5 Sealing Grace,
6 Surging Grace,
7 Salient Grace,
8 Singularising Grace,
9 Certifying Grace,
10 Certain Grace,
11 Assuring Grace,
12 Anointing Grace,
13 Conclusive Grace,
14 Infusive Grace,
15 Effusive Grace,
16 Unction Grace,
17 Function Grace,
18 Longing Grace,
19 Living Grace,
20 Loving Grace,
21 Enabling Grace,
22 Empowering Grace,
23 Illuminating Grace,
24 Reviving Grace,
25 Longsuffering Grace,
26 Lordly Grace,
27 Humble Grace,
28 Elevating Grace,
29 Everlasting Grace
Consider the First Cluster:
1 Saving Grace -
Ephesians 2:5,8, tell us of this. Note that it is : for by grace you are having been saved people, by faith, and that (entire cycle) is not of yourselves. The Greek requires this. It is the by grace through faith having been saved, which is not of yourselves but of God. Its height is of God, its depth, its breadth, its ways, its praise. This is correlative to Ephesians 1:11, where you have already those who HAVE OBTAINED salvation.
2 Sanctifying Grace -
Hebrews 10:10,14 assures this. By ONE OFFERING, that of the body of Jesus Christ, WE HAVE BEEN SANCTIFIED ONCE FOR ALL. Again, BY ONE OFFERING, He has perfected (completed) for ever, those who are being sanctified. This is correlative to Hebrews 6:11, in which the scripture declares: "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end ... this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." Hebrews is against delusion, but decisive on assurance and its grounds. In the process, grace sanctifies, for it is all done, and the application may be remedial, reinforcing, reinvigorating, scathing, balming, blessing on all sides even through adversities in which the communing strength of the Lord is sufficient.
3 Sufficient Grace -
Corinthians 12 speaks of this, for
when Paul was weak (relative to fascination with his own strength), then he was strong
(because free to imbibe amply, the Lord's strength). Indeed, when God saw
fit to limit him in one bodily aspect, and not to remedy this, the message was
"My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
We are all familiar with this, with children or 'teenagers, where immaturity exposes things more readily at times. A cocky child can become all but loathsome in selfish splendours, largely illusory, shutting the mind to reality in a self-sealing cocoon of self-indulgence or lurid ambition. By contrast, a chaste and contrite child can be so beautiful as to seem all but angelic. What there is more transparent to view, is nonetheless apparent in adults also.
The sufficiency of grace is not in this, that it is insufficient, but in that it in all things, in all climates, situations and adversities, vicissitudes and panoramas of contest, be these social, financial, spiritual, ecclesiastical, political, personal. psychic or diabolical, it is enough. It never runs dry, it is never lacking, it runs, it courses, it flies, it flings, it takes wings and it moves slowly; but always, it is there. It is impossible to outdistance it, to outwit it: love never fails.
4 Sure Predestining Grace -
Ephesians 1:4-6 with II Timothy 1:9-10 shows this magnificent feature of the splendour of salvation. Thus the Christian is one chosen from the foundation of the world, anointed, appointed according to the good pleasure of God, "to the praise of the glory of His grace", in which He has made us to be ENGRACED, received and accepted with grace, in the Beloved, in the Lamb who paid, purchased as enemies what are to be kept as friends (Romans 5:1-11). It is these who "have obtained an inheritance". Chance has no part; choice, divine choice has completed it already. Again in II Timothy 1:9-11, we find that God "has saved us and called us with a holy calling", and that this was "according to His own purpose and grace". Indeed this was "given to us before time began."
Now it is revealed in Him who brought life and immortality to light - not to darkness. Faith receives what God gives, so that the author of Hebrews sought that each should become complete to the full assurance of faith, for the Lord Himself as anchor is beyond the veil, His one offering having completed for ever those who are sanctified, and no less having sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ (Hebrews 6,10). Accordingly Paul makes it clear in Romans 8:29ff., that if you are ever justified you will assuredly be glorified (Romans 5:17, 30).
If you are not justified, then you do not accept the gift of pardon by grace; for Christ died to save sinners, and this, it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Assuredly those not found or forgiven, have no part; but those who are, have every part.
It was all sure before time; time has no bearing. What is to be accomplished in time will be; on time, all the time. It is not that love lacked (Colossians 1:19ff., John 3:16, I John 4:7ff.), but that divine foreknowledge KNEW, and HENCE predestined (cf. The Glow of Predestinative Power Chs. 4, 8 , SMR Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 3, The Spiritual Sagacity of Predestination in Love Ch. 5, Marvels of Predestination, Supplement 1, Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Chs. 7, and 9),
Love knows what it is about; it has
wisdom. Love never fails. It is stronger than death. For whom the Lord is
delivered up, accordingly, He raises up, and to these, He grants all things (Romans 8:32 cf.
Ch. 7 above).
Consider the Second Cluster:
5 Sealing Grace -
Ephesians 1:13-14 shows this grace. Having trusted in Christ Jesus, after hearing the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, you were (it is a general proposition for believers) sealed with the Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance. It is as in Ephesians 1:11. It is like an imprint or sign on timber or a book. Its nature is assured, its place is settled, it is stamped. To be sure the divine grace of the King of Glory, of Eternity, it is not in salvation given for merit. It depends on no such thing (Romans 3:23ff.), thus not permitting boasting, andgiving it no possible place. Moreover, it is not even according to the domain of merit, that it is given, except that of Christ, who being God is not to be confused with the believer!
The whole thing is not of yourselves (Ephesians 2:5-8). Indeed, it is given despite demerit, for while some might die for a good man, says Paul in Romans 5, yet herein in the love of God, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
6 Surging Grace -
Here in Isaiah 32:17ff. and in Acts 2, you see, feel discern, are TOLD of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with a vast, deep and irresistible overcoming power, which not only is resurgent, in that it is moving with impregnable power and glorious liberty, but surging, in this, that it is POURED FORTH from on high. It is liberality itself, grace in insurgent operation, liberating like waters clearing a mess, and purging at the same time, as in Ezekiel 47. It comes when the Lord knows the time is ripe, and in Isaiah 32:16-17, you see how justice is met, as in the atonement in Isaiah 53-53, and it is by no means aborted.
You see that the WORK of righteousness is peace, for the effect of it is quietness and assurance for ever. When, quite simply, you take what Christ has already done, and by grace appropriate the grace of its gift, then assurance for ever is yours. YOU do not need to make a contribution to gain status; that is pride. You need to make a contribution within salvation out of love, in gratitude.
This is functional; but as to salvation as a status, BECAUSE God in humility has made both pride and self-works irrelevant to your placement, such things have no contribution to make. The gift of God is eternal life, and if it is of works, then grace is no more grace (Romans 10). The exclusion is categorical, conclusive, exclusive (Titus 3:4ff.).
It is a spiritual site and has a foundation NOT OF WORKS; and no boaster has any place. The more he works himself up to try an entry by works, in whole or in part, the more he damages his life, disadorns his discipleship, makes of himself a farce, fancying that he can compete with the cleanness of Christ, the only available robe with the purity of heaven, made manifest on earth.
The man not dressed in the robe of grace was thrown out, in the marriage of Matthew 22. You cannot "go in your own clothes", for the Lord has adorned 'the bride', the believing church, with the "robes of righteousness", and these, they are His, and must be received as such! (Isaiah 61:10).
There was found in Pentecost, likewise, the glorious surge of the power of God as the Holy Spirit individually anointed those divinely appointed for the work of the ministry; and out they went, like surfers on a huge wave, enabled to hold on to its thrilling thrust, miracles of speech accompanying them (Acts 2). Thus the Gospel in one tongue was interpreted BY the Lord into speeches of many nations, those of each hearing in his or her own tongue the Gospel of eternal grace and access to glory.
Even computers now begin to translate from this language to another; how much more does the God who made the minds of those who make computers know how to internalise the change of language! There is NOTHING too hard for Him; indeed it is part of the folly of our own last-stage generation that it imagines that there is nothing too hard for it (when it is not degrading itself in destruction, depression and depravity), while it despairs of God.
Such are some 'teen-agers to their parents; but if parents can have faults, God cannot. What is often an immature surge of selfish folly with lust and degradation in the young, is scarcely admirable; how much less when members of this race act towards their Maker with such atrocious aplomb. Yet they would even complain when discipline hits, and what is ruined, no more fits!
As to God, however, His is the gift of life, and of redemption.
This grace surges; it wants no minimisation of its scope, of its purity, no foolish comparison of the soiled works of the human heart with its infinitely pure, precious and liberal provisions in love.
7 Salient Grace -
This jutting wonder, like a crag stabbing the atmosphere, yet without hurt, may be seen in Luke1:44, Zechariah 3:1-5, 3:5-9 and 4:7-10.
To take the last first: here Zerubabbel is seen, the governing prince in the reconstruction day for Jerusalem. At this time, the people had returned from Babylonian exile, and this was BY TOTAL AND UNMIXED GRACE, through the word of God to Isaiah as seen in 44-45. The restoration of the people to their land is given as an insurgency of grace. Such grace isolates, depicts, calls and settles the thing to be done upon him, giving assurance that it both will not, and cannot fail. The work of temple reconstruction, he will finish.
As to the return of the people to Israel at that time, this was even predicted, the very instrument of grace, Cyrus being named hundreds of years before the event of restoration which he instituted for the captive Jews. It is all of grace. Grace now signifies Zerubabbel. This is no chance. There is choice. That is divine. The instruments, various in usage and function, status and place, are named and the events to come stated in detail.
Again, in Zechariah 3:1-5, you see the impress of effulgent grace in this, that even the High Priest is a brand plucked from the burning; and what part does a brand have in being plucked ? one may ask.
Hypocrisy has no place; and High Priest, Joshua is ever exhibited in terms of a change from a filthy costume to rich robes, to become a symbol of Christ. Joshua's part is to have iniquity removed from him, with fresh dress provided. Christ's part, by contrast in this passage, is to have iniquity ENGRAVED ON HIM (Zech. 3:9-10), and this action is to occur in one day. It was to be that of Calvary.
Thus in divine grace, there is shown not only the rescue of the High Priest that he might serve, but the payment for that rescue, in the Greater than Joshua, the Messiah who does the paying! Everything is salient, secured by grace, given in grace, available for grace and its purity is endemic. The iniquity is removed in one day, we learn in Zechariah; it does not stick around.
Hence, to take the parallel: the one who eats of this bread, as in John 6, where the culinary image replaces the lithological, is one who lives for ever. Whoever takes the bread and ingests it is so covered, as we see from the tense in the Greek in John 6:51, in parallel to the water imagery of John 4, where as distinct from a constant coming to get water, the recipient of the divine water, the Holy Spirit (as in John 7:37-38) is eternally secure, his waters sure.
If such a person once drinks (same mood and tense - aorist subjunctive, for both the John 6 and John 4 assurances), will NEVER thirst again. The words and the thoughts are in total, eternal harmony: it is eternal life by salient grace: it is work by salient grace done by grace; for God is gracious who embraces, and reliable who gives.
Never thirst again ? Not only so, the water will surge up unto eternal life, a veritable spring, Jesus declared. Such is not available only to Samaritans!
8 Singularising Grace -
this is a special case of salient grace, in which not only is there a choice of a person, and a task, but there is an epochally significant one, in which a whole regimen is instituted, by a commanding, indeed commandeering call; yet it is one received in grace, for love never forces, just as divine wisdom always knows! (cf. Romans 11:26-36, Colossians 2:3,9, Job 29, Proverbs 8, Isaiah 44-46, Ephesians 1:4,11).
Thus amidst a defilement as epochal as our own, Noah was chosen for a work as epochal as that of Abraham, of Joshua. He FOUND GRACE in the sight of the Lord. His work was committed to him. For years he laboured; with a fortune he paid or someone did, for the work would be prodigious for a result so capable. Without water, he prepared for water. Without a harbour, he prepared a mammoth vessel. His work was outlandish in appearance, ludicrous in complexion, immune to wisdom in terms of this world, which seeks to run itself, like someone unaware that even and especially automatic gears need servicing, if you want to avoid searing heat.
Yet he was chosen and the entire human race continued only by his action. People do not like singularising, or salient grace (cf. II Peter 3:3-5, where our contemporary scholastic and popular slumber on the flood is noted in advance for our late stage in the Age).
Many people are often found in a social climate. They want to 'help' in works which require divine grace in the first, in the middle and in the last. Indeed, many want their world, to own it, possess it, handle it and rule it. They yet cannot even rule their own bodies, either in sanctity (cf. Romans 1) or in the little matter of choosing to be born, or not to die! It is ludicrous but lively in the dying anguishes of a departing Age.
It reminds one of the notice in some garages, that if you 'help', it costs more or twice as much! God determines what and when and who, and singularises for an epoch as we might select for a team. Noah was chosen. He did it. You can look at some of his imperfections, when he was caught in an error; but you need to see what HE DID. It was precisely what he was commanded, and a singular work of faith, so contrary to the currents of the time, that it was like sailing a ship in the desert. However, you wait for it, by faith, through grace, for Noah FOUND grace in the sight of the Lord; and then the water comes. As in Isaiah 32:17, the Spirit when God is ready, is poured out from on high.
In Noah's case, some of the grace was a literal water poured out, so that the spiritual grace found its place for the race. There is the case in Genesis 6ff..
Again, you see such a thing in the person of Paul. Once Saul the tormenting, lashing persecutor, the imprisoning ecclesiastical magnate, sent by the Sanhedrin, prince in power, scholar extraordinary, the man becomes Paul. God dealt with him, so that he knew well enough that by grace are you saved through faith, and that (whole thing), it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
This is not all. He was given to write most of the bulk of the New Testament, so that as Peter declared, his given works became scripture (II Peter 3:16). They have been read by massive mounds of millions, sent by grace, given for grace, a work of grace from the pen of an inspired apostle (I Corinthians 2:9-13), speaking with grace of grace.
Consider the Third Cluster:
9 Certifying Grace -
this is seen in II Timothy 1:9-12. Paul is "not ashamed," he declares, "for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day."
Why is this so ? It is because of certain, certifying facts. What are these then ? It is found in verse 9. He has been saved. It is done, and it is a past fact, "who saved us". He has been called, and that particular call is a "holy calling". This in turn relates to the Gospel which is preached by the power of God, the God who "has saved us". It is a thing of the past, established in heaven, it is a grant from heaven, equipped with power, exhibited in Gospel preaching, without the works of sinners being so much as relevant. It is a gift of a holy call, a call of power, a call of purity, a call to be distinguished further.
What then may be said by the apostle, inspired by the Lord who sent him, of the nature of this holy calling ? It is one not according to works. What you work at, cannot alter it. It is fixed. You are excluded from contribution to the status part of the thing. What is the point of it ? It is "according to God's own purpose and grace." What purpose and grace is this ? It is, says Paul, one "given to us in Christ Jesus, before time began": and it is a given, ultra-temporal holy calling.
Assuredly, it was GIVEN, says the word of God, before time began BUT "it has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."
This holy calling,
instituted and given before time
exclusive of works,
was given to believers,
by the personal purpose of God
and its domain is as it was, that of
for it is a gracious gift, timeless,
purposive, with power:
and now has been exposed,
and it consists in the application
negatively, of the abolition of
and positively, of the gift of
Knowing whom he has believed, and
that this is the nature of the gift,
Paul is persuaded of the application
of this holy calling, so that he
will not be ashamed
on judgment day,
and will be, as he now is, saved by grace.
It is this salvation which as in Ephesians 2:8 may also be expressed in the perfect tense in Greek, so that it becomes one which is a matter of quality and kind, making it expressible as "having been saved" people, the workmanship of God (Ephesians 2:12). It is as in I John 3, an institution of a new kind of life, a restoration to what was first created but later distorted (Colossians 3:10), and it is one from which the newness is indissoluble, permanent, for His "seed remains in him." In whom does John say that this is the case ? It is of the one "born of God."
You do not become Donaldson in order to be a Jones; heredity forbids. That is the teaching of the apostles and of Christ; and it is this to which Paul refers in Romans 8:29ff., when he notes that what is foreknown is predestined, what is predestined in called, what is called is justified, what is justified is glorified, because this is a HOLY calling which being predestinated in the very heart of the knowledge of God before time began, is that to eternal life by grace. Hen's have many callings to chicks; this one is to eternal life for those to whom it is given. NO MAN, said Christ, can come to Me except it be given of the Father (John 6:65): this is that.
You do not become a child of God in order to be constituted one of the devil: spiritual heredity, celestial creation forbids.
It is certified. Like the love of God, it cannot fail. Like the counsel of God, it cannot be aborted (Isaiah 14:27). Like the embracive desire of the love of God for His people, neither things past nor future, high nor low can alter it (Roman s 8:38-39). The Christian is certified. Not insane ? no, though many in the world, like King Agrippa with Paul (Acts 26:24-25), may deem the children of God virtually insane; no, he or she, young or old, is certified elect, chosen before time began according to the purpose of God, AND GRACE.
Grace prevails where faith has lit; and grace preserves from the deadly pit.
10 Certain Grace -
this is found in Hebrews 12, John 10 and Ephesians 1,6,11, Romans 8.
Thus, as in Hebrews 12, we look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. What He began in this domain, He finished; what He loved had as His own, He loved to the end (John 13:1). God is not a quitter, but "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24), and "He who has begun a GOOD work in you, will complete it to the day of Jesus Christ"; for "in quietness and confidence shall be your rest" (Isaiah 30:15). Nervous steeds may flee, rearing away from it; but this is what it is.
Not one was lost, except the 'son of perdition' (John 17:12, 18:9), Judas, who was known as a devil from the first (John 6:70-71), a ring-in from the dubious and devious devices of the devil, who for all that was foreknown, not predestinated and had no holy calling. Instead of this, his was the scripturally ordained, predicted and fulfilled one of being the betrayer of the Messiah, the undistinguished occupant of that role; for God is able to turn the evils of the hearts of men, freely chosen and foreknown, to His own purposes (cf. Psalm 76:10). That is but one of the reasons why such apparent subtleties and infiltrations from the domain of the evil one, carried out with the intrigues and involvements of men, are exposed to wrathful mirth from the Lord, as seen in Psalm 2, cited in Acts 4:25ff.!
His is a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28), and it is taken by those who do not turn away, but turn in, and find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28ff., John 4:14). It is this kingdom which we are receiving (Hebrews 12:28), being brought to the "full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 6), where our anchor, Jesus Christ rests complete from His work, where we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11), being engraced in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6), accepted by Him from whose love nothing can separate us (Romans 8:36ff.). It is to this that Christ, Paul, Peter, Hebrews direct us; it is to this that I John assures us we come as believers in the Lord's Christ (I John 5:11-12).
Having entered, we are His, being His, we are kept for ever (John 10:9,27-28).
Consider the Fourth Cluster:
11 Assuring Grace -
this is exhibited in Romans 8:16, I John 1:1-4, 3:9, 5:11-12, Galatians 4:7, Hebrews 9:12, Isaiah 51:11, II Corinthians 5:1ff., I Peter 1, Philippians 3.
It is individual (II Corinthians 5:1ff.), secure in the heavens, reserved by grace, for you (I Peter 1:1ff.). Here in Romans 8:16, what do we find ? It is this.
It is that the Spirit is assuring us that we are the children of God, which is a beautiful grace, since it is true; for if a child of God, then you are an heir of God, as Paul noted in Galatians 4:7.
If you are born of God, then you have new spiritual genes, if you like, and as with other genes and more so since this is a direct and intrinsic conferment from God Almighty by His Spirit, "his seed remains in you"; and John accordingly desires us, as in I John 5, to KNOW that we have eternal life, that which was from the beginning, is now, and was made manifest (I John 1:1-4), from Him, in whom believing, you have received grace for grace, and place for grace, even an eternal inheritance from an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12,15). For those called, says Hebrews, it is a PROMISE.
Eloquent is the love of God, which ASSURES the Christian that he or she is a child of God, yes, a citizen of the kingdom of heaven whose 'vile body' will be transformed into an eternal one, not as a possibility but as a FACT (Philippians 3:20-21). So it is stated and so it is, a gift for faith, to faith from fact, so that you may go from faith to faith (Romans 1:17).
With this, there is a vast yearning (Philippians 1:8ff.), and a journey (1:12); but the FACT remains. It is not possibility that prompts, but certitude which stirs; it is not selfish desire which leads, but loving affiliation which propels and impels; for man BELONGS with the Lord, and the pathology of separation is countered by the kingdom of the cross, the power of the resurrection and the power of the creative word of God, who makes of sinners, new creations (II Corinthians 5), whose bodily chariot awaits, ready at the resurrection of His people (I Corinthians 15).
We shall, says Paul to Christians,
"all be changed" (I Cor. 15:51).
Changed into what ? Changed so that
With what result ? It is of course this: that "death is swallowed up in victory."
So far from its being sophisticated to imagine that the turmoil of magnitudes past man in creation and construction of our very beings, soiled in sin, is to have some sort of self-engendered world available for life, it is in fact mere folly to imagine such a thing (Romans 1:17ff. characterises it).
To feel that man in sin can become man in sovereign grandeur, ruling himself and this world, is a fantasy of fabulous febrility, inanity and poignancy. Poignant ? Yes, it is that being lost, man uses what he has lost in spirit, to imagine what he may gain in flesh. He is unmanned who is lost, and the lust for what he has lost, turned into a feeble imagination that would oust God and take-over His property is as alien as asinine. It is man who makes a donkey of himself, however, for neither reason nor revelation nor empirical fact do other than mock such surmisings, as man goes amidst the torrid torments of wars interminable and corruption unspeakable of mind, body and spirit, to the pit (cf. SMR Chs. 1, 3, 5, 7, 10).
It is not that he lacks power; it is that he lacks life.
He is lost. His only grandeur is what he has ruined; and even that was grand only by grace from the first. It was constructed.
When you receive grace of place, not pride of race, and grace of the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23), not pride of life (I John 2:16), then in Christ you can appreciate that the Creator of man is the Redeemer, and the constructor of man is the eternal re-constructor of a temple, eternal in the heavens.
When the test is past, the last is first. Carrying individual or racial or vital pride about is as fatal as foolish, because it is based on untruth; and nothing untrue can endure. God who makes the truth available, does not make it fail: it is His own!
12 Anointing Grace -
this is to be seen in II Corinthians 1,12:5-11.
In I Cor. 1, we see that Paul in trouble physically, and is given instruction spiritually, the Lord interpreting the difficulty and showing that it has a need which must be fulfilled. With such profound if not prodigious gifts and calling, Paul had to be kept from a cranial growth which was not physical, from pride, from self-sufficiency. It was only when he was brought to recall the source of grace by which, through faith, he was remade at all, and engraced into being part of Christ's body, that he was really serviceable at all. It is necessary to look back to the rock from which you are hewn!
In fact, in II Corinthians 1, you see Paul is real distress; he is despairing even of life, because of certain exigencies and extremities. His heart sinks; his spirit is oppressed, his way seems mutilated, exasperation surges. Such is his position at that moment as described.
He is quite explicit here also. This sudden impact of flurry and rush of difficulties was to REMIND him, in practice, not just in doctrine, that he is not to trust in himself. It is easy, if given a gift, to act as if it were an inalienable part of one's own wonderful person, not merely sustained by grace, but operated in one's own rightful power, as an individual. Nothing could be further from the truth. It as a gift, is a thing and work of grace, and is to be distinguished both from one's own merit and one's own power. Just as sure as this, that it IS a DONATION, is the fact that it is a DIVINE donation, and to be used with sensitivity and humility, as well as confidence and utility.
If it is not so used, soon presumption comes, and Moses, a most sad event, was even precluded from physical entry into the promised land by saying to 'rebels', 'must we' do this and that! This is the papal syndrome, wholly contrary to I Peter 5, for example, as to Matthew 23:8-10 (cf. SMR pp. 912ff., 1032ff., 1042-1088H ).
There is in biblical fact, no room for ruling priests in the kingdom of heaven. Servants serve; they do not lord it over the flock (I Peter 5), and though people must have regard to the responsibilities of leaders, leaders should realise the sanctity of their position, in and under Christ, ministering in humility for Him, what is His. If there is a wolf, they must fight; if there is falsity and fraud, they must expose; but it is the LORD who must be relied on, magnified and praised in the midst of it all, for HIS ONLY is the power and the grace.
Again, in II Corinthians 12, we see an allied event in the life of the apostle.
Here, Paul was experiencing a physical impairment, on the topic of which he had three times sought divine intervention and deliverance.
Instead of healing in this instance, however, he was given an anointing grace, to accompany the physical difficulty which troubled him. "My grace is sufficient for you!" the Lord assured him, for the weakness of self-distrust is the door for the strength of divine vitality flowing like a stream in flood. In GOD is my confidence is always the cry of the Christian as he proceeds in the grace of God.
Thus Paul in this drastic occasion was prompted the more to rely on God, by God, through the power and placement of this enabling and uplifting grace. It was not just the pain or dint in his body, which for the time had to remain; it was the anointing grace which interpreted, soothed, blessed and sent on, like a car with a damaged window, still driven with spirit, but with ... caution.
Consider the Fifth Cluster:
13 Conclusive Grace -
this is seen in I Peter 1:5, 8-10, Romans 5:6-11, 8:32, Isaiah 54
You have not seen Christ, says Peter, but believing in Him, you have a rejoicing that is joy inexpressible. It is full of glory. It is that of salvation. You are kept, he reminds us, by the power of God to salvation ready to be revealed, the coming of Christ, His kingdom ruling, the resurrection and the glory of intimacy eternally with the God of creation and redemption (as in Revelation 21-22).
In being kept by the power of God, you are indeed weak, but then HE IS STRONG. This was beautifully illustrated by one old lady, tied with sheets to prevent her falling from the bed in which she lay, who was told of this power of God. There is assurance!
"That ought to be sufficient!" declared that old lady with blue, piercing eyes, and a shining face; and I think a good and wholesome touch of irony pervaded her saintly utterance: infinity IS enough, surely!
This keeping has qualities, Peter proceeds as he continues relay from the Lord, the divine word. First, your inheritance, for itself and in itself, is incorruptible. It is not subject to rust or dust. It is undefiled - it is not invasible by disgrace, shame, pollution or degeneration. It does not fade away - it does not simply recede, like the smile on the Cheshire cat, in Alice in Wonderland. It is more fixed than the mountains, for they will depart (Isaiah 54, 51:6), but the righteousness and salvation of God will neither depart nor be abolished.
Nor is it to remain beautiful, pure, intact, indefeasible, only to be given to another contestant or entrant. Grace is not like that. It gives and has wisdom, with it are knowledge and power. Thus, says Peter in I Peter 1:4, it is RESERVED in heaven for you; just as Paul said in II Corinthians 5, that "we know, if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ... Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee." That in turn is as in Ephesians 1:11-13.
The scripture resounds with the attestation of saving grace, keeping grace, sanctifying grace, securing grace and CONCLUSIVE grace. If He saved us when we were enemies, how much more certain is it that He will keep us now friends: such is the message of Romans 5. It is certain, it is self-assured, for this assurance concerns not the musings of the human mind but the revelation of the divine mind concerning His gift. It is secured in the structure of salvation, it is reasoned to, and the revelation comes so that in all things, it is certain. Faith takes it.
14 Infusive Grace -
this is seen in Romans 5:5.
It is simply this:
"Now hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
who was given to us."
This love of God is infused into us, poured into the receptacles of our hearts, instilled into the minds of grace, where Christ dwells. It is divine in origin and freshness, like a continually renewed spring, its waters abundant, liberal, leaping up, spreading out, abounding. The love of God is like that, never tainted, tarnished or impure. Its stream refreshes the Christian and impels those who are His to disperse the flow, in the power of His grace.
15 Effusive Grace -
this is seen in II Corinthians 13:4.
"For though He was crucified in weakness,
yet He lives by the power of God.
For we also are weak in Him,
but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves ..."
In this case, there is a torrent of grace sufficient. It is impressive like an avalanche, skilful as skiing down slopes and up hills; sacred like His life, efficient like the sun for heat, found from the uttermost, as in the Cross, abounding to the utmost, as in the resurrection. It is available for the task for each one as called (Romans 12), and it accompanies the worker as he or she works. It is the power beyond the labourer, the presence past the person, and the profundity over the littleness of man.
Consider the Sixth Cluster:
16 Unction Grace -
this is found in John 1:14, Romans 12:3, II Peter 3:18.
Christ was full of grace and of truth as the only begotten of the Father. There was a presence, a power, a purity of personality, a flow of fulness in life and liberty, clarity and profundity, a proficiency, an efficiency without meanness, for there was an abundance of life and goodness; for to Christ the Spirit was not given by measure (John 3:34). He is the Son of man who is IN heaven. He and His Father are One, He declared (John 10), His antagonists rightly seeing that He was indeed making Himself equal with God.
Yet, as Paul shows (Philippians 2), this is because it was the fact. His Messiahship was a voluntary humiliation for service, not a loss of reality as equal in eternity with His Father, very God (John 8:58).
In Him, there was an unction of grace without measure - not a measured unctuousness, which is its febrile and mesmeric, its fatuous and meretricious substitute. There was oil, there was flow, there was reality, there was anointing, there was appointing, there was internal essence of deity, there was graciousness that flowed like a stream, in complete harmony with truth, as is the river with the clouds. It was perfect, not merely as a bloom, in its season, but for any season; for it was His life, His who created all seasons, for whom no season is unseasonable.
Again, in Romans 12:3, we see the parallel to this for the redeemed. Unlike the Redeemer, we are not without measure: we indeed may have this or that gift, but love is far beyond them all (I Corinthians 13). It is necessary to see and find our place in the body of Christ, in the functions of the Lord amidst His people, and not to think of ourselves more highly than we should.
There is the same principle, however. It is not a frustrating exclusion (remember Eldad and Medad, and Moses' response to their prophesying outside the ranks - Numbers 11). It is a divine inclusion, for He distributes gifts as He will (I Corinthians 12:4-6).
On the contrary, the provisions of the Lord to His saints, it is a resurgence in specialised form, to be understood as a gift in love, for grace, so that in grace its assuaging, stimulating, helpful and edifying power might bless the rest of the body (Romans 12).
In II Peter 3:18, we see yet another aspect of it, as in II Corinthians 3:18, the arithmetical twins! Here we find not the interface, as one serves, but the inner man, as Paul calls it. We are being moulded, carved, sculptured, formed, as by the Spirit of God, from glory to glory. It is done with that beautiful liberty which love has (II Cor. 3:17); and it is a transforming within.
It is not harsh; it is holy. It is not dire: it is innovative, involving the spirit of man in all the furnishings and functions of reality, in inter-communion with a transforming relationship with God Himself. It results in growth in knowledge - and in grace (not the shrivelling of false gifts, fraudulently and bombastically asserted, a mere flurry of confusion, intrusion and folly).
As to that, it is as in Proverbs 25:14:
"Whoso boasts himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain."
17 Function Grace -
for this, we look at I Corinthians 14:15, 4:20, II Cor. 4:2, Romans 12:6.
We do not spend the time of the congregation in farcical intensity, specialising in 'tongues' which have no meaning unless interpreted, but rather prefer with Paul 5 words with the mind to 10,000 in tongues, in public. This is more edifying, and in the service of worship, ALL things must be done to edifying. The meaning of that is indisputably clear from I Corinthians 14:17, 19, 26. ALL things must be done for edifying as defined here. There is a place for all things, and for all things in the body of Christ. Preaching takes entire precedence over tongues, tongues must be interpreted, few (2 or 3 at most), and must not be gloried in, for he who glories, let him glory in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
FUNCTION is required, not indulgence. A surgeon is not there to enjoy cutting, or to relish seeing things opened up for a more intimate view; he has a job, an operation, a cleanliness in the mode, a cut with precision, a salving with care, a stanching of blood with address.
There is function and release, and comfort has a place, as does rest after labour.
It is not, however, in the midst of the operations of God in the edification of His people in public worship. Similarly, some speak of politics in ways neither spiritually commissioned from the Bible, nor wise; and they do so in the public worship service, making one wonder who is being worshipped! Is it God ?
Why then is His word not being preached! It is HE who wrote it (I Cor. 2:9ff., cf. SMR Appendix D).
Why then is a man preaching himself or releasing himself instead of serving acceptably, preaching the word, in season and out of season (II Timothy 4:2)!
There is moreover no room for using the word of God deceptively (II Cor. 4:2), or superficially (II Timothy 3), bringing in blighting heresies (II Peter 2), as is the pandemonium and pandemic of our Age, with few exceptions in the large ecclesiasical and government arenas, as predicted (Revelation 13, 16, 17).
Further, since each one has a gift in measure, it is important to realise that measure. An eye specialist has not the generic overview of the GP; nor does the latter have the intense and incisive eye knowledge of the former. There is a function, and grace grows, not in self-enlargement, but in positioning things wisely and well.
Consider the Seventh Cluster:
18 Longing Grace -
is exhibited in Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:42ff., Isaiah 48:17ff..
In this, the beauty of the grace is delicious. God is not effete, indifferent, jaded, graceless or joyless. In ardent entreaty, invitation, in deep grief, He moves, to seek, and if not to find, to lament. IF ONLY you had realised (Luke 19:42ff.), it chimes like twelve o-clock midnight, when the day's work had to be finished by that time, and was not!
Your peace would have been like a river (Isaiah 48), if ONLY YOU HAD HEEDED!
If you had only realised the day of your visitation (Luke), but now your house will be desolate. HOW OFTEN would I have gathered you, but you (Matthew 23:37ff.), daughter of Jerusalem! You, the very generation to which He came, how often would He have moved in tender call to have them come to Him, whose they were, as a nation, as individuals, as a people!
They, that blessed generation to which the Christ is assigned, the daughter of Jerusalem (in normal and constant usage cf. SMR Appendix B with Ch. 2 above), to them He spoke.
"YOU WOULD NOT!" That was the human response to the cry of the divine heart, You should have come, and only you are responsible, for I, the LORD is here saying, I would have wanted you: I CALLED in my generic cry, urged and pled with you; but you would not. I was not only willing, He is saying, I was crying to you. I not only did this, I did it often.
Indeed, it was not only repeated, but repeated with heart! It was not only repeated but it was a proper, most fitting thing, for you were like chicks with the hen, but unnatural, O daughter of Jerusalem, you who being grown, must answer direct: you were not willing. THEREFORE judgment must come. Therefore Christ weeps, laments. That is the divine heart.
The children do not have the sins of the parents to answer for; it was not their judgment that came therefore - in fact, Jerusalem was not destroyed till a generation later, a case in reverse to that of Moses and the failure of Israel to enter the promised land! There the adults refused, and so the children went in, according to the divine principle of Ezekiel 18 by which children do not answer for the sins of their parents! Here however, the adults, the children of the day in the history of Jerusalem, when grown, they also refused.
A tradition of refusal was being incontinently followed. Thus the parents brought on the city, on themselves, what now had to come. The children, those who did not repent, they followed to inhabit ruin, and then to the principle of being expelled from the land, if they lived.
It was a cyclotron of pride, of rebellion, moving from disgrace to disgrace till they lost the place of power, and the palaces of corruption, destroyed.
Thus, the youngsters, still unrepentant when grown, around A.D. 70, and at the hand of Rome, they would find it in their own day: but not without opportunity to repent and break free from the circuit of judgment, through being drawn into that of grace! Remember with gratitude to God, however, that many thousands DID withdraw, DID find the circuit of grace, so that having been justified, they would be glorified. It was NOT, even then, in vain; for not only did large numbers find exit from the evils brought on Jerusalem by the generation who refused and judged Christ, they even became salt to bring savour to Europe.
Let us never generalise away the decisive and incisive steps of multitudes of Israel in bringing to the Gentile nations, with sacrifice and steadfastness, with joy and resolve, those very things, that very Gospel, that very Christ by the power of His Spirit, whom the nation as one whole, had rejected. Individuals do not have to follow their nation; every German did not have to hallow Hitler; and many did not do so.
How gracious in all His ways is the Lord, and with what restraint does He act; with what patience does His word and will constitute the dynamic of history, while He redeems many.
It is a signal fact and act and atmosphere indeed of grace, that the purpose of God it is never slit.
God who knew before all time what would be, does not for that reason cease to be the living God, whose love is not polluted, poisoned or defunct because without response from so many for so long in so many ages. In yielding the tares, He yet takes the wheat. In lamenting, He yet rejoices at one who comes from the darkness to light, from the bonds to liberty, from obfuscatory oblivions to illuminatory brilliance.
SOME HAVE COME. God is the same. It is the freshness of His passion, the joy of His desire, the loveliness that He cares, the power with which He can operate, the innocency of purity of His desire, which is the for the good of His people, that remains. He has come by His Word, and moves by His Spirit through His Gospel, to seek and to select some from the world among the many whose refusals He records, knows and has overseen before they so much as existed: it is this which is superb, supernal, the lustre of the Eternal, the liveliness of His passion, the freshness of His life, never inured or desolatory in itself, always apt, free and able.
It is this which is grace. God is as exuberantly loving, as decisively able, as ready to act as ever. His knowledge does not, as in some academic egg-head, crack His heart: He is ever the same, pure and majestic, delightful and ready to delight in His children. Thank God these are of a vast number over the Ages (cf. Revelation 7). Few in percentage (Matthew 7), they are many as a family, scoured out over time, sent to eternity, awaiting the resurrection, the hallowed host of witnesses (cf. Revelation 5).
It is time for gratitude, that in this passionate purity and ardent love, unmitigating mercy, the Lord Himself is as lovely as ever, like a rose that does not spoil. It is apt for gratitude that He is as He is! remains as He has been and will be as in eternity past, in eternity to come (Psalms 90-91). His secret place is as available as ever, and it is as cool there as it was, as sure and as beautiful.
What better could one wish... and if at any time, someone repents and seeks the Lord, is there not more joy in heaven at one who so repents than over a multitude of those formal functionaries who please themselves and call it godly (Luke 15:7)!
19 Living Grace -
this is to be found exhibited in Ezekiel 47, Romans 5:19-21. The link lets you find it detail for Ezekiel.
Here the river of waters coming from the altar, in the prophet's vision, is first of all small, to wash over the feet, then over the knees, the thighs and the waist, until it is a surging stream uncontrollable, which moves one with its momentum and drive, so that the will of GOd is not only DISCERNIBLE but a DYNAMIC in one's heart. When Christ indicated that not everyone who says Lord, Lord! is acceptable, but rather the one who does the will of God, it simply shows that doing the will of God is inseparable from being a child of God.
The horror is that in this generation, there has been so much hypocrisy, double-tongued, deceitful, satanic talk, so often received in bodies which were once churches, that the simple concept of having a Father who, though in heaven, may be seen while yet being invisible, and followed to a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God, seems by many to be forgotten! It is like a dream; whereas the form and fashion of this world is like an enveloping concept, an Autumn, coloured in tint, but one soon to be merely past. They grab the dying leaves, each one as it falls a memento, and want to make of them a national heritage, or a rarity to be preserved; but the season of this world is itself passing. It comes to its own Autumn, and with the difference that is Winter is hot, both deadly and devastating, it has its own season (cf. II Peter 3).
Let us however gladly return to Ezekiel. These waters in Ezekiel not only had constraining power, but they issued from the altar, being a stream dependent for its operation on man, on the sacrifice of the Saviour, on the at-onement between man and God which this achieved, for faith. They moreover rushed about cleaning and healing all into which they freely flowed, with abundant life and freshness. Reaching, and imbuing with their purity and peace, they were desecration in reverse, pollution yielding to purity, dynamic overcoming the dismal.
Indeed, there were some marshy areas, where there was little flow; and these stayed so. That was their nature, and they wanted it so, as it were. The thud of mud can be desirable to some. They stay muddy (cf. John 8:24).
The waters brought life, just as in Titus 3:4-7, the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit are fulfilling Christ's word that He had come to bring forth life more abundantly.
Gratitude for this fresh liveliness, and godly vitality can know no bounds. God is better than the ocean breezes, the majestic alpine heights in their atmospheric purity and stimulating scope for sight. These are but tokens; He is the same, full of the beauty of holiness, love, truth, arbiter and grantor of peace, the God of all comfort (II Corinthians 1:), and the God of power (Psalm 57, 68:34, II Corinthians 1:3).
His is life, and He has not only conferred it, in our massively magnificent constructions, our bodies, our staggeringly enabled entities, our minds, in our amazing endued spirits, but in our call to life, one which does not split or splay, totter or die. It is everlasting in its magnitude, its quality, its enduring, its individuality, its scope, its beauty and in its strength. Not to be thankful for this, even in the present realm of faith, while we are in this current world of the visible, is like a spoiled aristocrat, sending back the pigeon pie before vomiting.
Its receipt is like Spring in the heart, the ocean as one's floor, the rock as one's refuge, vitality as one's thrust and grace as one's surrounds. It is inimitable and alive, as an electric wire is alive with a fallen pylon; but this life is filled with construction, art and knows no artificiality. It makes electricity seem dull, and transcends mere pain. It has reality, purity, vitality and regality; and it has its King.
It has, like created life, but far transcending it because of purity, infinity and eternity, a surging abundance. It is indeed like a spring sending its waters up with the spray of effusiveness, into the air, leaving its results for all to see (John 4:14, 7:37-38).
Thus as in Romans 5:19-21, we see the contrast: one man sinned, the race became his offspring. The Lord became man, so that by His obedience, including death and resurrection as the axes of determination, many might be constituted righteous; and this, through faith, and hence receive the dissolution of death and the conferment of eternal life. One took, Adam; one gave, Christ. One was the first man, one the Last. One was the deleter, one the deliverer.
As sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:26). If one soiled the page, the other produced a book, the book of Life in which are the names, from eternity to eternity, of the people of God, each one (Ephesians 1:4). This book of life knows no change, just as the genetic structure of man is presented, a creation. This new creation has its register, and in that, those saved by faith through grace, are to be found. None founders, not one of those given is yielded to Satan. He takes merely his own.
That is the way with the living grace of God: He has much more in the positive than man in the negative, in love than in man's hatred, in understanding than in man's ignorance; so that where the hand of God is taken, the sheer abundance of life that issues upward into eternity and knows no cessation proceeds, grace abounding in rich relish, permanent instalment and kindness illimitable (cf. Titus 2-3). Is sin vast ? Grace is vaster. Is sin staggering in its devastation ? Grace is more stupendous in its construction. Does sin dismally disappoint ? Grace eternally appoints. Does sin desolate ? Grace captivates in its charm, moves in its might, assures in its goodness, grants in its womb of wonder, the life that nothing can annul, soil or despoil, for mighty is He who executes His word (Isaiah 43:27, Joel 2:11, Isaiah 44-45).
20 Loving Grace -
Luke 21:31-32. Daniel 10:10-12, I Cor. 13:8-13, Ephesians 3:16-21.
Peter, the Lord indicated, you are going to betray Me, but don't be afraid, for I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU (cf. Hebrews 7:25 for the present time), that your faith should not fail.
Now notice the result of this prayer, for the Father always gives the Lord His request (John 11:42, 10:30). It is already known. WHEN you are changed, strengthen your brethren.
It is not IF, but WHEN.
This is loving grace. It sees the weakness, provides for it, brings repentance (as in Luke 22:61, or in any other way the Lord elects to employ), and secures growth where there had been straying.
He knows what He is doing. The love of God is like that. In love He is gracious: for even a sharp rebuke can have that love back of it which is stimulatingly real, and soberingly spiritual. It is a loving, an individual, an intelligent, a comforting, a strengthening and healing grace.
Thus in Daniel 9 and 10, we see Daniel, seeking the Lord with power, concerned for the future of his people, knowing the prophecy of Jeremiah and the assurance that the people would have scope to return after exile to Jerusalem, as predicted: and we find him engaged in prayer.
He is told as he has been seeking, so he is greatly beloved. Grace is loving. It does not cease to love the children of God, or to make free provision through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, for the lost, as many as come. He knows His own, and having provided for all with passion (I John 2:1-2, I Timothy 2), He saves His own with fashioning grace, and saving knowledge, granting to them the citizenship proferred to all, at His call.
He loves them, and delights to find them at work in His Spirit, with grace, with patience, with forbearance, with seemliness, with courage, with perseverance, all given by God, and used by man as he lives in a stream not of consciousness, but of life. In this, by grace as a child of God reborn, he is equipped for attainment, enabled for production, blessed with bliss even amidst pain, with rest even in labour, with results even in the midst of this world's desolation. Like Noah, child of grace, so is the impossible the very channel for divine glory.
Not only is this so, but what garlands of beauty does the Lord add as He sees fit, like the wandering tendrils of wisteria, ensconcing themselves with elaborate charm, in this and that part of the woodwork of some pavilion.
In the case of Daniel, we find that first he is given, in Daniel 9's record we find it, the most amazing arithmetical prophecy of all time (cf. Highway of Holiness Ch. 4), one devolving on the Messiah and His being nullified in appearance, that many might be glorified in reality; and then as in Daniel 10, the most detailed coverage of coming events LEADING ON to the very resurrection from the dead (the Messianic death already being dated in Daniel 9).
Blessed are they who mourn: for they SHALL be comforted! (Matthew 4). Here is not only power and presence of the Lord, but a love which adorns it, interprets it, gives it a lively and personal meaning and a grace of its own.
Consider the Eighth Cluster:
21 Enabling Grace -
we find evidence of this in Philippians 4:13. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
To be sure, the apostle is grateful for the ministrations, the helps, the concerns of the brethren, appreciates their efforts, finds them as perfume; but in the end, just as we bear one another's burdens in mutual intra-body love, so Paul is enabled to bear his own burdens, even his "chains in Christ." It was not easy; their concern was refreshing; but God enabled him.
"I have all and abound," says Philippians 4:18. There is nothing too hard for the Lord. Remember Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi, wrongly whipped (perhaps to the point of peril to life), and they were praising God in prison, the prisoners listening. When the earthquake liberated them, they were still far more concerned to prevent the gaoler from committing suicide than with escaping.
Their lively and audible praise of God in such circumstances attested the state of their hearts, the enabling grace of the God of all comfort, who is afflicted with all our afflictions (Isaiah 63:9), and loves through to the end, enabling His people to find at last, the journey's end and the beginning of glory with Him.
What is needed, it is supplied. What is impossible, it is changed by divine action into possibility and then into actuality. Such is the provision of the grace of God.
When Paul at last did go, perhaps having visited Spain and wrought more and more till it became a missionary pageant, still did the words flow with grace, impelling many more to see the hand of grace in the place of suffering, and in the valley of the shadow of death, for this, it is but a displaced enemy for the Christian (I Corinthians 15). What were such words ? These:
"But watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry.
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:
and not to me only, but unto all them also that have loved his appearing."
Does this not remind one of I John 1:1-4!
22 Empowering Grace -
may be witnessed
in Joshua 1 as in Chapter 10 above, or in Stephen,
as in Chapter 9.
The Lord promised at the outset to be with him, as He had been with Moses (Joshua 1), and to enable him to prevail against one and all in the battles to come, indeed appearing to him as Himself the Commander of the host (Joshua 5).
If it meant the barring of the Jordan River, till all had past on the temporarily dry bed, made so by miraculous divine intervention, from the moment the priests' feet came to the waters: this was mere provenance, the deployment of divine resources, as a man might act in the toy world of a child. If later, it meant the fall of the walls of Jericho, then this too would occur. If it were a matter of increasing light for a time, beyond the natural order of normal design, that too was a mere matter of intervention, either in or from beyond the power of the created objects, such as the sun, concerned. All this happened, as recorded in Joshua, AFTER the divine assurance given to him.
It is really childish rather than child-like, to imagine that God's imagination is limited to a particular construction, such as our universe, or to this or that law which is simply the norm instituted for an insite operation of this or that part, power or province. To be sure, the universe and this world in particular, has an orderly purpose; but part of this is to be remain subject to Himself, just as a man's body has a purpose and an order, but may be subject to the surgeon's knife on occasion, not to daunt its naturalness, but to preserve it.
Now with Stephen, how lustrous was the face, how burning the words, how right the scholarly dissertation, how invasive the point, how irresistible the entire presentation of miracles of grace, before it happened, that stoning that has made him so famous! With what penetrating logic, passionate testimony for Christ, correct exposition of the scripture, he acted as death stalked. Indeed, this was the death sentence; for it is a well-known failing of power-lust, that when it is prevented by logic and righteousness, it murders if it must! Not trepidation but truth however prevailed in him! Nor could any answer except with stoning.
It did; but it helped to bring Paul to life, the young man who shamefully stood by during this rabid, social stoning. Paul helped to bring hundreds to life, to secure the word of God to multiplied millions.
Empowering grace acts with wisdom and knowledge; and victories innumerable flow from the resurrection and its power, and from the multiplied acts of grace, forbearance, forgiveness and favour which flowing from divine grace in the hearts of the Lord's people, impact on the field, and help bring the conviction which the Spirit of God may turn to salvation. So many may be won, in loss the lively victory, in love the living grace.
It is not religion of form without power (as for the latter part of this our Age, foretold in II Timothy 3), but of word with wisdom and power through loving grace. God acts for the one who waits for Him, who rejoicing, remembers the Lord in His ways (Isaiah 64:5).
Power is never the final point. It is wilfulness which in the end destroys. Grace is sufficient. Unbelief has its own reward. Power is provided.
Consider the Ninth Cluster:
23 Illuminating Grace -
may be seen in Ephesians 1:15-23.
Paul, we read, does not cease to give thanks for the church of the Ephesians, and to pray for them that the Father of glory might give to them "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him."
Attendant upon such a gift, three results follow. First, Paul seeks that the eyes of their understanding be opened ? No, that is not the prayer. Rather this is written: he prays that those eyes of understanding be ENLIGHTENED (1).
They are already Christians, and so are awake already; what they need is light!
Secondly, he prays that they may know the HOPE OF THEIR CALLING (2). This is not hope versus knowledge, but knowledge of what is not yet present but surely will be, in due time, as defined in Romans 8:24-25.
Thirdly, he seeks that they may know THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF CHRIST'S INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS (3).
He wants them to have assured understanding, knowing the basis of doctrine (as in I Corinthians 2:9-13, II Timothy 3:16), the words which stand forever sure, perceiving the meaning of the truth and that light in their houses of understanding, which makes it all clear to the mind, open to the spirit, instructive to the heart.
What a marvel that God has kept, more solid than any rock, the doctrine of truth clear in the Bible; and what another one, that by His Spirit He continually makes enlightenment for those who seek Him, His word and His will. This is a premium from life and a zest in quest: it is that the result sought may be FOUND, in Him. It is written by word; it is opened by spirit; it is applied by His governance and implemented by His power, promise, prophecy and nurture, all.
The hope of their calling, so beautifully seen in so many scenes in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress for example, is the sure knowledge of what is in store (I Corinthians 2:9ff.), even the deep things being divinely revealed; for eye has not seen, says the apostle, BUT God has revealed these things.
Hence Paul's prayer in Ephesians 1:17-19 is to the effect that they should know what He shows, by faith, embrace its innermost reality, imbibe and appropriate what He has given; that they should possess the spiritual possessions endowed to faith, due to the children of God as a fatherly gift. It is Paul's spiritual desire that they should have that stream of rainbow in the valley, that mist of waterfall in the dry season, and that song of praise in the challenge, as they are carried as by the waters of Ezekiel in the river of life, carried to where one must go. As is the mirror cleaned, so they are to be washed as they go, and as a motor boat moves over the waters, they are to be impelled in the going!
BY FAITH, Moses, Abraham and the rest saw the One who is invisible and proceeded to the city in view. It was future; in that it was a hope. It was given to faith; in that, it was certain, more so than the very ground under the feet, or the uprisings along the way.
They are to know what is the power ? no, it is not that. His prayer is for them to know "the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19). And what is the measure of that power, what is its ambit, to what does it relate as criterion and impulsive exhibit, dynamic example and foundation ?
"according to the working of His mighty power
which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead,
and seated Him at His right hand".
This is the One who in such power is raised above principality and earthly power ? No, it is not that: it is FAR above it. It is above all named power ? No, it is not put that way: it is above every name that can be named. It is not empirically the greatest; it is so in principle, in practice and in application. ALL things are put under His feet, who came from equality with God to service in humility, and in His restoration is the overwhelming overthrow of ALL that is present and perilous, partial and presumptuous.
Such is this illuminating grace,
and such is the power behind it,
and those who have the Lord, and are in His family.
Yet there is a THIRD desire in the prayer of Paul for the church at Ephesus. It is that the Christians might know what are the riches of the GLORY of CHRIST's INHERITANCE in the saints.
How many are the saints over the millenia of history, how remarkable are the graces accorded to them, what amazing feats the Lord has performed through them, how sallow has been the face of age after age, as God has wrought in His servants grace upon grace, with courage shown, character formed, fruits abounding, with tensile intellects, glories of music, wonders of art, works of kindness, teeming compassion.
Not only so, there is not merely what God has done in His people, whether with Moses, or Joshua, Isaiah or Jeremiah or Stephen; it is also this reliability behind it all, the reality that His word is sure, His people are secured, their savour continues and their Saviour is all-sufficient (II Corinthians 3:5).
As one with Him, they await the day of final specification, when as one body they arise, the dead in Christ first (I Cor. 15, I Thess. 4), to go to that heavenly, that celestial wonder (as in Revelation 7, as in Revelation 19:8, the 'marriage of the Lamb'), to that eternal inheritance with the people of the Lord: and as one they will come to the One who created all things, and has predestined His own people to be with Him. Not one fails.
All will be there, from the widow with her mite, to the lost sheep, the prodigal sons rescued, the least of the flock often more to be admired than the best-seeming; for many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Glory is in this inheritance, for the Lamb is its very light and temple. No more war, pain, curse will be there; and the name of the Lord, not the sign of the beast, will be found on their foreheads, signal of direction by deity, not deployment by the devil.
There, immorality will as foolish in its strutting as would be one who suggested putting glass pieces into the radiator of one's car, instead of water. It will not be. Darkness is ridiculous. Light illuminates reality. It is there, and the Lord is that light (Revelation 21:23), EVEN THE LAMB. There flow freely the waters of the Spirit (Revelation 22:1-2), and there on the throne are Father and Son, recipients of praise for ever (Revelation 5).
What gratitude is ours, that the Book of the Lord in the hand of the Lord of the Book, gives us not only the words, but by His Spirit the witness and the understanding, being as light to the eye, bringing us to see the land which is very far off, and the King in His beauty. Though now we await that time, yet it is not only in faith, but as graphically displayed in the Bible, in His truth (cf. Isaiah 33). Then we shall see face to face, the face ruined, the Destroyer of Death, the antidote to damnation and the medicine of immortality, yes the Great Physician Himself, Grantor of Grace, Plenum of Peace, Devastator of Illusion, Prince of Peace; and of His kingdom there will be no end (Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 7:25, Hebrews 12).
24 Reviving Grace -
is witnessed and attested in Isaiah 57:15, 32:15, 30:18-19 and Hosea 5:15.
In the latter, God indicates that He will "return again to My place, till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction, they will earnestly seek Me."
It is then that the time comes:
"Therefore," says Isaiah 30:18-19,
"the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious,
and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you:
for the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are they who wait for Him."
Thus comes by grace, the time of return, of restoration and revival. From HIS face, the one more marred than that of any man, distorted as if not human (cf. Isaiah 52:12ff.), comes the grace. From His presence comes His Spirit (cf. John 15:26).
In His time, "the Spirit will be poured forth from on high" (Isaiah 32), and the effect of righteousness will bring a reviving assurance and a profundity of felt and lived peace within. Revival produces rest, as if disease no longer mauled the vitality or vitiated the organs. Thus in 32:16-17, we find these words:
“Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”
It is the divine righteousness which brings peace, by vicarious atonement, and on this one must lay hold (Isaiah 27:5), and it is to this sacrifice that one must by faith come (Isaiah 53:10, 55). As drink, it is free; as strength, it is there for the asking; as pardon it is proclaimed, as assurance it comes like the wind in Spring, in the hills. Now is the season to come and to ask; and it is matter of empirical fact, that none who comes to Him is cast out (John 6:37).
Indeed all of these multiplied graces of God are as clear as the mountains, as freely available as in a national park; but this, it is an international park, yes a celestial one, presented to earth, with the grace of heaven. Its testimony is heuristic, for to taste and swallow salvation, it is its own attestation, just as negatively would be potassium cyanide, in reverse! You cannot forget it, you cannot ignore it, its attestation is in all realms, of reason, of experiment, of history, of prediction, of power, of the beauty of holiness. It is the only grace which is sufficient, and the only offer verified, validated and confirmed without exception, without cease, and from all time*1.
God is willing to wait, knowing all. Though He knows how to act, He does not force. In infinite wisdom and with many things at His touch, He acts and He waits. He does not systematically act where faith is a figure and mortality is the life in view. He acts where faith is, and where that is, there is repentance (cf. Luke 13:1-3), and where that is, nearby is redemption, and where this is found, there comes the humble and the contrite one, to whom the Lord in Isaiah 57, promises to look! And that look, as Peter found, is crucial! (Luke 22:61). It is indeed the call to man to LOOK TO ME, the Lord declares, and this to all the points of the compass on earth, and BE SAVED! (Isaiah 45:22).
The Lord will not always strive; man is limited (Isaiah 57:15). Yet in its time, comes revival and then divine action and with this, the outpouring of His spirit and all the vitality of which Ezekiel spoke in Ch. 47, and of which Christ spoke in John 10:10.
Revivals when the Spirit is poured forth from on high have been immense strengheners in bygone days in the USA, in the nineteenth century in particular, as in Wales, as in Scotland, and have pulsed in different lands in the earth, whether in Africa or Asia, South East Asia or England with the Wesleys and Whitefield.
In some of these , there come, miracles of healing (you cannot rule God, He acts as He will, according to His word, healing as He will), and in them, wonders of restoration, blessings of mellowings, fortitude in faith, purity in life, removal of spiritual impediments, grace to neighbours, peace in the heart, and "assurance for ever". Such is part of the list of what has resulted, changing the course of history, as if a huge pile of boulders were placed in a river bed, and an alternative route were constructed.
It has been conceived, perhaps correctly, that the work of revival in England under Wesley and Whitefield, may have been instrumental in precluding for England, that bloodthirsty revolution in the disgrace of misused power, of Romanism and State, which led France to such a romp and rampage in the torrents of blood and anguish.
God acts in grace, and we are considering outcomes such as that on which Hosea 5:15 embarks.
In fact, after Hosea 5, and its restoration and revival, figured and featured at the end of that chapter, comes the announcement most pivotal, of Hosea 6, This, in conjunction with Isaiah 26:19 and Leviticus 23, shows the resurrection of Christ as applied to His people. Thus, in Hosea 13:14, you see that God Himself will come and REDEEM, absorb death and conquer hell, Himself the payor. It is not by an instrument, but by Himself as in Ezekiel 34, that He will act, and in Himself pay. That is what is found there in Hosea 13:14.
I WILL BE your destruction, I WILL REDEEM, death, I WILL BE YOUR DESTRUCTION! He declares. He does not declare and fail to do, offer and fail to provide.
This fits closely with this other announcement from the Lord: "My dead body will they arise". This amazing revelation is to be found in Isaiah 26. There the topic is resurrection from the dust, and it is in this resurrection that "MY DEAD BODY will they ARISE. It is, then, in constitutive relationship to His body that the resurrection of the saints is to occur.
That is precisely what happened, and in the language of Paul's gift, it is expressed as Christ rising first as the first-fruits, and afterwards those who are His at the general resurrection (I Corinthians 15). It is under the name and auspices of the dead body of the Redeemer, Himself resurrected, that what is called by Paul in Romans 12, the "body of Christ" arises in its time.
Thus, when in Hosea 6, we read, "He has torn, but He will heal us", and on the third day "He will raise us up", we are dealing with a body construed as dead being brought to life. That body had already been defined in Isaiah 26:19, as MY DEAD BODY, by the Lord, speaking of Himself.
It was an arising which was that of the dead, it was the general resurrection.
This was to come when they return to the Lord. After two days, they revive, but only after three do they live in His sight! This is that three days of which Christ spoke, concerning Herod, that on the third day the thing would be accomplished (Luke 13:32), He would be fulfilled in His mission ('perfected' - in the Greek, brought to complete fruition). This was a message of the phase of suffering, to be received by one with understanding; and it mocked unbelief just as it was code for the understanding, the wise in heart. It was this same three days to which Christ repeatedly referred (Matthew 16,17 for example). It was the factual, empirical, testable reality which was obtruded like a muscle by the fighter.
This is the same three days as in Leviticus 23, where after the central Passover of redemption's picture and portrayal, the Paschal Lamb, the prelude to the Exodus, the Lamb which gave cover through blood applied to the doors of the homes of the Jews, before leaving Egypt, there came deliverance with power. It was the blood of the Lamb and then the military triumph at the Red Sea. It was a red symphony indeed, to which was added the blood of the slain Egyptians assailants, to seep into the waters. Thus as the waters arose to deliver Israel, they returned to dash Egypt. This then was the symbolic and historical background.
This was the matter of the first day.
The triad of days, then, came as follows, in that symbolic represenation. First there was the day of the Passover itself. There followed a day of rest: that was the second, for revival and refreshment as normal (as in Hosea 6:2). Last in the three, came in the Feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23), the crucial exhibition of life from the dead. In this, a sheaf from the harvest was waved before the Lord, signifying life after death (more sacrifices were made on that day, linking the two), and triumph despite iniquity, in view of the divinely ordained and historically central cover of the day of atonement.
In these ways, symbolic and sacrificial, and again of direct intimation, there was the story of revival; but it is to be found only in the power of God, and in the Lamb who in the end, fulfilling all symbol, being 'perfected', finished once and for all the atoning sacrifice, arising on the third day.
It is almost like a poetic refrain. You see it again even with Joshua with the crucial military enterprise for his day, of the crossing Jordan, on the way into the land promised. Put some millions across, women and children, equipment and cattle, and it is no small task IN THE MIDST OF POWERFUL ENEMIES! Vulnerability would be almost total!
One finds the significance of the three days, there emphasised and predicted for the crossing time of that barrier to the promised land. It will occur, said Joshua, IN THREE DAYS TIME (Joshua 3:11). It is there, on the tarmac for the take-off of faith. NOT ONLY is there to be a successful crossing of the Jordan, but it is to occur within a given time. It is all ordered, organised, sure, certain, a grant of grace, a deposit of divine power, an emblem of the Lord's sufficiency.
Thus in Joshua 3:2, we read that it was indeed after three days that it all happened.
There, then, there was prophetic preliminary, powerful enactment, precise performance; and it was the prelude to rest in that the Land was to be one in which they would gain rest, that promised, where abundance would occur, a land flowing with milk and honey. Thus the way into rest was to be found by a miraculous provision which would be available to all of the people; and it would be a work where the three days would be an integral part of the deliverance, of the expression of power and the coding of the call.
So was Christ, equally figuring the three days within which the triumph leading to rest available to all in His predictions, to bring them to that rest which was to be and is glorious (Isaiah 11:10, Matthew 11:28ff.), to move to 'cross the Jordan' making the waters dry. Thus the impediment extraordinary and epochal, it was DEATH. It was this which in three days He would obliterate in its aggressive force as the result for sin, by bearing sin. It was this which He would dispel as destiny, paying in His own person for the difference, breaching its place by bearing its penalty.
The symbolism this time passes from that of a nation to find its national rest, to that of One greater than Joshua, displaying the greater triumph over the greater enemy, death itself, by eternal life, vindicated and verified. Again, it is just as it was in its own mode, in Leviticus, in which is to be found the symbolism of sacrifice and life arising, and on display, and when ? It is on the third day (cf. SMR Ch. 6, pp. 472ff.)
As also in Hosea 6, it is the power of God to raise up to fellowship with Himself, removing every impediment with power and grace, which is in view; and this, it is central to the revival. It was first of all to happen, when Christ came and on the third day, rose, as He predicted so often (cf. Matthew 16,17). It was then the resurrection grace and power of the authorising God, who gave the very Gospel that Isaiah had foretold in terms of this same Messiah, that became crucial to any revival. Christ crucified, yes rather risen became the cry that brought grace (Romans 8:34).
His life on earth as the Lamb, without spot, a fitting and serviceable sacrifice for sin, an accounting plus to cover the minus, an infinite purity to cover depravity, this had to be lived in plenary purity, practised in sincerity, shown in reality, preached in integrity: but in due time revival came. First, thousands became Christians as a vast swathe was cut in Israel itself (Acts 2ff.).At times, the Church would begin to sink. In such times, it was rather like Peter, who when called by Christ to come to Him, when He was walking on the water, started out well, but seeing the circumstances, the waves rising, began to sink.
Indeed, much of what was called the church did sink, in this and that apostasy, as it does to this day; but much remains. It has always been so, the remnant of grace (Romans 9:27, 11:5).
It begins to sink. Then comes refreshing, as with the Reformation, this amongst the times of refreshings as promised by the Lord (Acts 3:19-21). It comes again amid the opening of humble exercises of the Christian faith while large and rich 'churches' wallow in the waters of unbelief. It is, let one note in passing, a vast mistake to under-rate the Reformation, as some supposedly evangelical churches do. It is not something 'in which we had no part', any more than the betrayal of Judas is irrelevant to the Church.
It was central to the Church, and if one heresy, that of Rome (cf. SMR pp. 1032ff.), had become imperial in posture, following the close association of the bishop of Rome with the Emperor at one period, and proud in pretension (contrary to I Peter 5, Matthew 23:8-10, and to the whole Bible concerning ANY believer! - as in Isaiah 66:2), it was as much a deliverance for ALL as was the resurrection a further deliverance, from Judas and the power of hell which sought to deploy itself through him. EVERY slaying of the dragon is the affair of the church of Christ, for we are ALL brethren, and if one suffers, all do so.
Despite the now increasingly severe congregation of large ecclesiastical bodies with governmental ones, in a mish-mash of this world and Christian culture, as distinct from a confrontation with Christ presented by the Church to the world, there remains the scope of the remnant and of the Gospel presenation, whether they hear or forbear. For who would not weep for them, who perish, or ignore those who are deluded, or grieve for those precluded by folly, and tortured by the engines of cultural confusion, intimidated by propaganda, listless in the swamps of sin.
Revival and reformation, encouragement and power, these continue, let the devil do what he will. Though many falsely use by exhibitionist techniques even these things from God, as if to make artificial revivals, disobedient to truth, misaligned in doctrine, asserting flesh, psychologically motivated, works of deception: nevertheless, the truth does not cease because error abounds.
The Church of God is revived as challenges accepted, testimony continues. What! did not Noah have a singularly lonesome seeming time ? and what of Elijah ('I only am left!' - I Kings 19:14) ? But look at what was done through them.
Impossibility is just the beginning; performance in power is the end.
If life ebbs, yet many are revived; if truth seems fallen in the street (Isaiah 59), yet this is part of the schedule (as in Revelation 13, 17). It is not in trouble because men leave it; and revived hearts, not revised hearts, continue to know their God and to do exploits.
It is with gratitude for revival, whether in spiritual outpourings, or individual blessings, that one speaks of the grace of the ever living, ever loving, ever caring God of all truth who never leaves those who believe, be they conceived as a remnant of grace or a relish of salt.
Consider the Tenth Cluster:
25 Longsuffering Grace -
is seen in Isaiah 32:1-4, 42:1-4.
The Lord is a refuge in tempest, a shade in wearying sun. The pattern is the temple (Isaiah 4:6), but the Person is the Lord (Isaiah 32:1-4). His pity and His arm alike, act. Thus while preparing for the bearing of sin (Isaiah 49-54), He is also seen enabling the renewal of the withering, the dried and the weary, the bruised and the weak, in Isaiah 42, not crushing the crushed, not cutting the fallen, but enabling restoration and patiently renewing strength.
It is important to realise that the same verb is used twice in Isaiah 42: HE does not break the bruised reed, and He Himself will not be crushed until He has brought His truth throughout the earth. There is as so often this sublime empathy, eventually exhibited crucially on the Cross. Consider the steps to that sort of identification.
First, He yearns for man, then He tells Him the way, and then He foretells that one might look, His coming incarnation, with the date of death.
Then He acts to come, then He exhibits the deity in man in power, compassion and ability to raise the very dead, using Lazarus as an illustration before facing death vicariously for man, Himself.
For that, He allows the betrayal, facing the treachery of man, in person, as well as in verbal confrontation: having foretold it both personally and in the Old Testament prophets.
Then He dies for sin, bearing it in person, as if it were His. After this gruesome infinity of compassion, then He arises in the body crucified and of course verified , (Luke 24, John 20, I Corinthians 15, Romans 1:4), to give the ground for faith: and sends out His Gospel by the power of His Spirit, conserving it in His word.
Thus He draws men to himself, and being lifted up as Saviour, brings hope to the world in its lostness. In so doing, He Himself, though crushed for a moment on the Cross, is not broken; and those whom He helps, though crushed with sin for a time, are not ruined eternally when they come to the place where He was, the Cross, to find their share of the generosity of God, in dying as an offering, that may be taken, and if taken, absolves from all guilt (Isaiah 53:10 cf. Bible Translation 20), John 6, I Peter 2, Romans 3, 5).
Longsuffering is the name: suffering long, suffering graciously, suffering meaningfully, suffering gloriously, since it brought glory to bear on man, and guilt to its final resting place in His own dead body. It is AS His dead body that those who 'dwell in the dust' are resurrected (Isaiah 26:19 - this is what is written), Himself the basis and the first-fruits, those the result and the harvest.
It is the longsuffering of His grace which is beautiful, like the face of a rock, facing and outfacing every radiating blast of sun, every teeming thrust of rain, every chill and trembling of ground, its face set to the light, unmoved. It has character; in Him, it takes action; its force is applied. Like a citadel it becomes a resting place; like a fortress, it becomes a source of strength, those who wait upon the Lord rising up with wings like eagles.
He is ready to enable, invigorate, to renew their youth like the eagle (Isaiah 26), granting peace, from Himself, for those who lay hold of it through His offering of Himself (Isaiah 25:8, 26:1-4, 27:5, II Corinthians 5:17ff., Galatians 5,Philippians 4).
26 Lordly Grace -
Job 1 with 40-42 show this.
Look now at the book of JOB.
Job is NOT consulted as to whether he would like to participate in a divine program which would and was to show whether the satanic insinuation was true, that his religion was merely a discrete form of self-love, in which the sanctity goes in and the rewards come out, better than in any competitive system. People love to mock Christians if they are rich, as unfeeling; and if they are poor, if incompetent. That is the nature of the human pathology of spirit, which ignoring God, seeks to find a place for a graceless face for the human race.
However, mockery or not, Job was an extreme case. It has been considered on this site, at length before. God met Satan's jibe heuristically, and in gist, it appears like this.
Very well: you think and teach such a thing about My righteous servant Job. Try him, then, and without removing his life, strike the alleged source of his obedience, and show that it is really this that he loves, that his worship of God is not sincere.
Was God an instrument, or worshipped ? Was the spiritual a facade, and not the glory ?
The test therefore proceeded. Often tests proceed and men mock or block righteousness in the midst of them distrusting God, making of themselves kings or princes, to whom all, including God must give account: and therefore miss what He was doing in felicity, showing in wisdom or achieving in blessing. Job is in overview, an advocacy for humility, searching for the will of God, and patience.
At the first, when finances, cattle, wife alike taunted or dismissed him as of any effect, when children were killed, the impact was great in principle. Still, it did not work. The Lord gives, said Job, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Satan was then authorised to attack his body, without killing him.
It did not work. Nevertheless, to this was added the advice of his 'friends', who having come from far to see him, were amazed, staggered at so great a fall, in finances, in cattle, in reputation, in health ... Then they spoke, imputing evil to Job as the ground of this situation, which they ruthlessly imagined to be one of judgment for his sins. He like all men, was a sinner; but he was a highly cultivated and spiritual man, full of grace and kindness. It was IN F ACT not on account of his sins, but rather of his reputation and his outstanding qualities, that Satan had sought to revile and ruin him.
Thus, in fulfilment of the test in view, Job having been stripped of family, financial resources, dignity to an extreme degree, was assailed heavily, and repeatedly on his reputation for morality. Indeed, even in this, he who had been such a blessing to many, was now mocked as deceptively evil, and only apparently good: his integrity was defamed, and the least of people acted as if on licence to degrade him. Youths dismissed him, servants made light of him, relatives were not helpful.
To be sure, Job wilted somewhat, did not consider it fair to be so treated, wondered if God were acting as an enemy, and worked out some ideas of his own; but in the end, as at the first, when he said, The Lord gives, the Lord takes away: blessed be the name of the Lord, so he went even further.
Satan had over-reached himself. Job gave birth to one of the greatest prophecies of all time. It is attested every Christmas in Handel's Messiah, with extreme beauty. It is found in Job 19, and even though Job admittedly cannot stand and does not appreciate the exceedingly rough treatment he is receiving, despite the most consistent of lives of charity, sympathy, morality and productivity, yet he retains his confidence in God. He would indeed like to come to God and challenge His actions; but that not being possible, to his great distress, he makes it clear that he would like an advocate, a barrister, someone who could come and reason on his behalf, even to God.
That occurs, as shown in Job 9:32-35.
In Job 19, this thought flowers, and inspired by the God who still knew, loved and esteemed him, though He did correct him later for his errors on the way (like a good coach), he asserts strenuously that he would like rock for paper, lead for ink and a pen of iron with which to write on the rock for all time, that his experiences be gainful and testimony to all.
What would he like to write ? It is that Job KNOWS that his REDEEMER is living, and that in the latter season of history, He will arrive on earth as a man. Even though his own body, Job's, would perish, this Redeemer would be wholly faithful and reliable, and with the divine resources, would act to deliver him, so that from his very own body, and with his very own eyes, by the power and grace of God, without any intervention of another, he Job, would SEE GOD! He had no doubt of the glory of God, or of His integrity or His wonder, in the end. It was the way in which things were developing which appalled him.
In the end of the matter, however, it was the utmost felicity to see Him, to know Him, to be redeemed by Him; and in that, WHATEVER this world offered, even to his body, he would rest content.
There then was the answer that rebuked Satan, as it always must from sincerity and faith. GOD IS LOVED because of who He is, what He is and because He being truth, is loving, merciful and great, the Creator of man and his Redeemer (cf. Jeremiah 9:23ff.).
God in lordly GRACE had tested Job, being not about to resign sovereignty because of pity; but knowing that truth would out, that sincerity would prevail, that faith would not fail (as in Peter's case in the New Testament), He did not yield to sentiment, but allowed the test.
In the end, having shown the core of the matter, Job was rewarded indeed in all departments; but it was not as an enticement, but a reward proper: the result of truth.
Let God be God and the truth will appear fruitfully; but seek to contest His place or grace, this is a folly which raises its head like a giant rat in the midst of a banquet: detestable, diseased, the harbinger of disease, itself ready to die.
The grace of God to Job was lordly, to be sure, but loving. Thus Job was corrected indeed, but with knowledge and understanding. His friends who had defiled his reputation, he was instructed to pray for; and they had to make sacrifices, being exposed divinely for their sin. You have not, said the Lord, spoken right as MY SERVANT JOB, has done!
His vindication was not as if he were perfect; but as sincere, as godly, as not wrongly of reputation, as a true SERVANT of God, and where folly in insinuating superficiality raised its voice against him, making consecutive slighting slurs, yet Job was made to stand (cf. Isaiah 54:16-17).
The divine solicitude was as real as the realistic requirement of one who ostensibly (and in fact actually) put God first, to be willing to SHOW it. In showing it, Job became a prophet of one of the most delicious, portentous and beautiful prophecies of all time, covering redemption, resurrection and the individuality that goes with it. So does the lordly grace of God, make loving results; for you see, He knows well what He is doing, and why, and being love, He moves to the outstations of time, with the bright shining light of undimmed truth, unarrested righteousness and free redemption.
How well, we must notice in passing, does Job fulfil the principle Christ made clear: He who saves his life will lose it; but he who loses his life for Christ's sake, he will keep it. Life is to be lived with and for God, the living and revealed God, or not at all. Without God, it is a smaller or larger broken branch. In time, it withers.
In God, it is a branch of beauty, fed with water and placed securely in selected soil, to be tested as He will (cf. I Peter 1, 4); but not without reason, not without purpose, not without purity of intention, yes, and not without comparable result.
Who cannot praise the Lord, who knows Him, for the magnitude of His thought, the depth of His counsel and the grace which always supervenes; for God IS gracious.
27 Humble Grace -
this aspect is notable in James 4:6. God gives more grace to the lowly.
It is parallel to Isaiah 57:15 and 66:2. God looks to this man, the one who is humble in heart and trembles at His word, and He revives the spirit of the contrite ones, just as He lives with the contrite and humble spirit. Grace fits here like a gardening glove in the thorns; but there is joy, for it finds not thorns but readiness, suppleness; and delighting in mercy, it brings on the growth of the flowers of the heart, the abiding fragrances of spiritual beauty, duty and diligence.
On this, see I Corinthians 2:14-17, II Timothy 4:17-18. The latter appears below:
"But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me,
so that the message might be preached fully through me,
and that all the Gentiles might hear.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work
and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.
To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!"
In all circumstances, and under whatever duress, one has found the underlying principle true, for the grace of God which brings salvation is kind.
Consider the Eleventh Cluster
28 Elevating Grace - Ephesians 2:6.
This first-named epistle is rich in imagery and profound in its emphasis on grace.
Thus the one on whom the grace of God has been poured, is like a rocket with the tank filled: this one arises aloft, and is to be found "sitting in heavenly places". It is "lifted up" to such a dwelling, and in this elevation, it gets of course a better perspective, for from on high you can see further. It means that you are not cloyed or clogged with the earth-bound, partisan with worms and longing for the littering of past things: you rather have a view which is over and above the natural. You see in the light of eternity, you perceive in the sphere of reality. It is in Christ Jesus, so that although it is not your rocket ship, you are in it.
On this, one should see Philippians 3:7-14, which appears below.
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss
for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,
"for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him,
not having my own righteousness, which is from the law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which is from God by faith;
"that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,
and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means,
I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;
but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul goes on to note that fact that Christians, of whom he here expresses the yearning, are also those whose bodies WILL IN FACT be transformed at the resurrection, thus bringing both the aspiration and the confirmation in one place (cf. Philippians 3:20-21).
Let us with this aspiration of Paul in mind, consorting with this conviction, proceed back to Ephesians, and the heavenly places in which the Christians sits, in the Lord.
His view is given to you; His elevation of understanding is communicated, as He indicated (John 16:13-15), and so endued and endowed, you will find, "in the ages to come" that He will show "the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
You do not worry with this world; its buying and selling is not your heart's basis: indeed as Paul puts it, in I Corinthians 7:31, "the form of this world is passing away." Those who buy should be as if they did not possess, says the apostle. What uses and abuses this world, seeking to snare it, wear it, pare it, is lost to the heavenly places in Christ; for this is what counts; and what gives truth in perspectives is sound, enduring, with the light of life dancing on it, as if the sparkling of waters could be discerned below, from the heavenly places, the meaning of life unobscured in vision desirable, in truth secure.
It is here, in these heavenly places in Christ, that worthwhile values, character and personality are formed, unwarped by the occlusive pollution which when without Christ, binds the earth to dimness, to anguish and to the oppressions which twist oppressor and oppressed alike (cf. Isaiah 8:20-22).
Always, there is the beauty of truth: “To the law and the prophets,” says Isaiah in this very place. “If they do not speak according to this word, there is no light in them.” Indeed, it is then, without the heavenly places and their foundational truth, “they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be drive into darkness.”
There is in this twenty first century world, precisely that sense of a culture, international and occlusive, being DRIVEN into darkness, by desires immiscible, contentions deplorable and graspings unremitting, talking high, doing low; and at times, adding low talk to the mixture. Its end will come, as does anything with unremitting vigour and address, seeking the end of the cliff, with high speed driving, and blindness mixed.
For elevating grace, it is not the edge of the cliff, but the heavenly places from which all has come, to which the spirit of man will go, which is the milieu. Weaned from the earth, but loving the creation still apparent, one can live in it without spiritual squalor, alive by grace from among the dead, imbued with the Spirit of the Lord, sealed and secured by the Saviour. Here is truth in its consistency, life in its coherence*1, righteousness in its foundations, meaning that covers all and beauty of holiness which, like a doctor in a plague stricken territory, is not fazed by the horror of things, but drawn by its need. Such is the love and grace of God who so LOVED that He GAVE.
The world is like an experimental farm in which EVERYTHING is tried, provided it is not founded on sound farming principles. It is derelict, proud and impure all at once; whereas the grace of God has the answers it does not care to take, like a man wanting not water for his thirst, but some patent soft drink in a can.
The fizz passes, and the fashion of things which depart from the grace of their original in the midst of often taunting sin, is not so fashionable when the truth cuts like a razor. The second law of thermodynamics (cf. TMR Ch. 1) is simply the result of a design being mistreated, ageing and with man conscious IN it, and declining to be stirred BY it, coming towards the end. In the meantime, man is found inveterately designing foolish remedies which do not achieve the desired result, because in blindness, they burrow, and do not sit in the heavenly places.
29 Everlasting Grace - Isaiah 51:11, Hebrews 9:12, John 11:25-26 with the text just quoted, Ephesians 2:7, Romans 8:32 illustrate this.
It is with EVERLASTING JOY on their heads that the redeemed of the Lord come (Isaiah 51:11). Sorrow and sighs will not only be absent, they will flee as before an army, displaced, dynamically dissolved.
Not only does no one take this kind of joy from you (John 16:22), but it is elemental to the redeemed, and is the correlative of the "exceeding riches of His grace" : to be shown "in the Ages to come" (Ephesians 2:7). By grace is salvation, Paul proceeds in Ephesians, an entire cycle not of yourselves, and it is through faith. It is this same grace which will in great depth and abundance populate the ages that are coming. Indeed, the love of God is practical, positive and performs; so that "he who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And he who lives and believes in Me will never die" (John 11). Contingencies are covered; completion is compelled: obstacles are obstructed and life is illimitable in the grace of its restoration.
ETERNAL is the redemption, ETERNAL is the life gifted to the believer, the Ages to come keeps its companionship of this profundity and immensity of grace; and EVERLASTING is the joy of the redeemed. It is clean, clear and content; for godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6), and "all things are yours", says Paul to those for whom Christ was delivered up (Romans 8:32). There is a certain abundance of liberality, and completion of preparation.
Far is all this from what is its opposition, the spiritually rebellious who cannot face endure truth, and move from the wholesome words of Christ. Such people are shown in I Timothy 6:5, by contrast to the authentic love of God, and in them are found
"useless wranglings of men
of corrupt minds
and destitute of the truth,
who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."
What is to be GAINED when you move from the words of God and still call yourself His! It is a form of theft (cf. Jeremiah 23:14,17,30). They cite one another; they declare a vision of their own hearts; they are motivated by something they seek as gain for themselves; but it is flesh, not of the spirit of God, a dream of the heart, not a revelation of the Lord, a manufacture of a misfit, a profane person, mocking God by summoning His name for his own products!
Move away from those, says Paul (I Timothy 6:5), and know that godliness with contentment is gain indeed, and great is it! It is the gain of authenticity, of the Creator in person, of the Redeemer in His unwilting love, of the infinite wonder of the eternal God as friend, Father and Saviour, in whose kingdom evil has no part, in whose heart is grace abounding.
Christians become therefore the "grace race", not because of their genes, but because of their God; and even their 'new creation' lives, the prelude to the resurrection, constitute the spiritual ante-room for it.
As I Peter 5:11 presents:
"But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
"To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen."
Here they are prepared; and we who know Him, that trinity whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3), are being further prepared as we live, for that kingdom where it is children who are the denizens, the children of God, true Israelites, without guile, shriven of guilt, covered in grace.
See for example:
TMR Ch. 5, It Bubbles ... Ch. 9, SMR and
The gods of naturalism have no go!
The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy
CELESTIAL HARMONY FOR THE TERRESTRIAL HOST
See also, and with special reference to this volume, the following Appendix.