F. A. Hughes.
"The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints."
Precious indeed are these last words of Holy Scripture! In the first verse of Genesis this glorious Person, known to us as "our Lord Jesus Christ," has His place in the Godhead (Elohim — plural); thus His mighty power as Creator is seen. He is the Subject of Scripture; His glory shines throughout; all others are eclipsed and the radiance of His holy Person — His words, His acts, His compassion, His power, — thrill the hearts of His own. "Moses and prophets and psalms" all speak of Him; He is the Yea and Amen of every promise, of those already fulfilled and of those awaiting fulfilment; "the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus;" chapter after chapter is filled resplendently with His glories, official, moral and personal. The words of Scripture are the infallible record of His own precious utterance to John — "I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I became dead, and behold, I am living to the ages of ages, and have the keys of death and of hades" (Revelation 1:17, 18 New Trans.). Before time was He, and He uniquely, dwelt in the bosom of the Father's love (John 17:14). "The Father loved Him before the world was — a love in which there is no question of comparison, but of that which is infinite, perfect" (J.N.D.). The end of that marvellous chapter envisages the moment when we shall see His glory — "Christ seen in the fruit of that love which the Father had for Him before the world existed."
In holy Manhood He was ever the "beloved Son" of the Father; John 1:18 (in addition to the exclamations from the opened heavens) indicates full and perfect communion between Father and Son. It is such an One, "the only-begotten from beside the Father" who has revealed to us the eternal thoughts of love and glory ever in the Father's heart; the basis of such revelation is Their relationship in the Godhead. In the beginning He was "with God;" He "was God;" (John 1). He is even now "the Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever" (Romans 9); and in the day to come — spoken of in Scripture as "the end" — His movements will ensure "that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15). Truly He is the "Alpha and the Omega" — the beginning and the end of every thought and manifestation of God!
We do but touch the fringe of the glories unique to the One of whom this last word of Scripture speaks. And, yet, beloved, it is the glory of His love which fills out this precious conclusion of Holy Writ! Oh! the immensity of His grace (His love in its holy movements) — sufficient to refresh and fill the hearts of "all the saints." Love eternal in its source and character, eternal too in its duration and effect. In love He gave "all that He had;" He gave "His life;" He gave "Himself". It is a love that "passeth knowledge," from which neither power nor creature can separate us; it is the love of One who loves "to the end"! It is the love of the Lord — the great Administrator of all the bounty and blessing of God Himself; it is the love of Jesus — so preciously known by "Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus" (John 11) and by thousands of His own however varying one from another; it is the love of Christ — who by that sacrificial love has secured for the joy of His own heart eternally His treasured bride — His Church; it is the "love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Beloved, this grace — the precious operation of divine and holy love — has reached us at infinite cost to our beloved Lord:-
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
As we think again of the glories and might of our Lord Jesus as revealed to us in the Scriptures; the many precious Names and titles belonging to Him both in Deity and in Manhood, how attractive to our hearts is this closing reference to His matchless, all-sufficient grace. John tells us in His gospel that "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The verb "came" is in the singular — every movement of grace was the expression of the heart and mind of God, in perfect consistency with His holy nature — for "God is love."
Soon, beloved, "grace begun shall end in glory" — until then may we know, by the Spirit's power, the import and power of the word — "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died, for all, then were all dead; and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).
"And, oh! Thy grace transcending
Its fulness will declare,
When, from on high descending,
We meet Thee in the air."
Peace is a moral element in Christianity, and it must be the effect of righteousness . . the divinely appointed relationships in integrity.
A further word in relation to the foregoing may be permitted — a word which one trusts may serve to enhance in our affections the personal glory of the One whose grace abides with us.
We have thought of the many glories of our blessed Lord; the Scriptures as we have stated are full of references to them; and indeed the object of ministry from the Word of God is that we may "all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Ephesians 4:13). But there yet remains in relation to our Lord as Son that which is completely beyond the human mind's ability to grasp — "no man knoweth the Son, (epiginosko — to become fully acquainted with) but the Father" (Matthew 11:27). this is something before which we stand with unshod feet — not in theory but in the full implication of what this attitude of holy worship involves. Human speculation, the ideas of men and of creed and of tradition are swept away; philosophy and the accumulated wisdom of this world has no standing at all. From eternity to eternity there is enshrined in this blessed One that which is, and ever will be, known only to the Father. We worship and adore! If the Son, in the glory peculiar to Him, is beyond the comprehension of any but the Father Himself, then the eternity of His Person as such is crystal clear.
In John 17 speaking to His Father the Lord Jesus says — "Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (verse 24). Thus the glory and intimacy of eternal relationships are equally clear.
Brethren let the wonder and greatness and glory of the One who thus waits upon us in His precious unceasing grace flood our hearts, forming thus substance which may be, in the Holy Spirit's power, released in praise to Himself and to God. The contemplation of the Son will give us perfect freedom in worship to God, and in testimony to Man. Every facet of divine truth is in Him personally — He is the truth (John 14:6); He has told us the truth (John 8:40).
When Pilate asked "What is truth?" — he had no apprehension of the holy character of the One standing before him. Doubtless the words Pilate used were "Quid est veritas?" A perfect anagram of these words is — "Vir est qui adest" — "the man who is present." This is no mere coincidence! All that can be known of God, His purpose and His thoughts of love and glory, has been fully made known in our Lord Jesus Christ, yet He Himself remains in a glory unique to Himself — known only to the Father!
O Lord, we adore Thee,
Blest Son of the Father,
Whose love without measure
Surpasses all praise!