The Power of Grace.

2 Timothy 2:1-2.

H. H. Snell.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 325.

Divine grace, or the free and unmerited favour of God to undeserving objects, is the source of all our blessings. We were sinners, and justly exposed to the wrath of God; we were utterly unclean, and entirely unworthy of anything but judgment. It was when we were "sinners," and "without strength," that Christ died for us. All hope then, and confidence in God, is founded on divine grace; not that righteousness could possibly be excluded; hence it is written, "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:21.)

Timothy had been reminded in the first chapter of the "grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," and is here, as the Lord's servant and the apostle's child in the faith, enjoined to be "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" as the spring of all true service. Elsewhere saints were exhorted to "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might;" but here our strength is from divine grace - "the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

We can never forget when first the grace of God, as expressed in the death of His Son, dawned upon our guilty, sin-stricken souls. So sweet was God's declaration of His marvellous love to us in the gospel, that, instead of being overtaken with divine wrath, and judged for our sins, we found that God, though just, was our Saviour, and that His grace in and through Christ Jesus brought unto us eternal salvation. Nor can we fail to remember the preciousness of the first ray of hope that rose upon our desponding hearts and burdened consciences, when we found that, sinful and unclean as we were, divine love brought to us eternal salvation as the free and wholly unmerited gift of God. This was grace indeed!

But more than this. After dwelling on the unutterable agony, the unmingled sorrows - on what it cost the Saviour to bring us into such blessings, we became filled with wonder, love, and praise, as we drank more deeply of the grace of God, and knew that Jesus was raised again for our justification. Not only was He "delivered for our offences," but "wasraised again for our justification." Yes, it was for us; for "by Him all that believe are justified from all things." (Romans 4; Acts 13:39.) What marvellous grace that could thus justify the ungodly, and reckon us righteous on the principle of faith without works! As another has said, "We believe in a God who has intervened in power to raise Him from among the dead, who had borne our offences, and who, being raised, is the eternal witness that our sins are put away."

We are further taught by the Spirit, through the Word, that Christ, who had vindicated, satisfied, and glorified God about our sins, had thus merited as Man the highest exaltation. He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name," etc. And as the work of the cross was for us, we must be therefore with Him for ever. If divine righteousness set Him on the Father's throne, divine grace through righteousness must bring us into the Father's house; for the Saviour suffered for us, and He must see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. Hence, said the Son to the Father, "The glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them … Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory." (John 17:22, 24.)

But even now, while in a mortal body, and waiting for God's Son from heaven, we know that divine grace has brought us into new relationships, and set us in a totally new and unchanging position before God. We are thus no longer looked at as children of Adam, but children of God; not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, though we often painfully feel that the flesh is in us. We know, on the authority of God's word, that our old man has been crucified with Christ, that we have died with Christ; thus we have now no standing in the flesh, and our history as to the first man is for ever closed by the death and judgment of the cross. We know also that when we were dead in sins, God, in His rich mercy, put life into our souls. We were quickened together with Christ, raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; and by the gift and indwelling of the Holy Spirit are united to Him for ever, who is the Head of the body, the Church. Thus we are always looked at by God, where His grace and power have set us, as in Christ, complete, or filled full, in Him in whom the fulness of the Godhead bodily dwells. What marvellous heights of blessing then we have been brought into by the grace of God in and through Christ Jesus!

But more than all this, blessed be God, there is grace in Christ Jesus to care for and minister to us every step of the way. However much we are debtors to Him for grace, still He saith, "He giveth more grace." No doubt divine government works also concerning us, and "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap;" still, withal, God waiteth to be gracious. All His ways toward us are according to "perfect love;" and even chastisement is for our profit, and that we may be partakers of His holiness. Moreover, whatever be the humiliation, or sorrow, or suffering we may have to pass through, still the Lord says, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." This grace we are to reckon on for every part of the wilderness journey, and the crowning act of divine grace will be to conform us to the image of His Son. Even now, as we have seen, as to our standing, we are always before God" in the Beloved," in His cloudless favour, objects of the Father's love and care as His "dear children;" we are also under the constant ministry of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and under the unceasing oversight of the Lord Jesus, who is for us before the face of God, and ever active on our behalf according to our need. What abundance of GRACE! How true it is that the Father loves us as He loved His Son; that He has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ;" that He is bringing "many sons to glory," and "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus." (John 17:23, 26; Eph. 2:7.)

Divine grace meets our hearts, and establishes our confidence in God. "We love Him, because He first loved us." We may possibly have our minds well stored with orthodox doctrines, and be filled with knowledge which puffeth up; but the truth in the love of it is another thing. We may be also taken up with ordinances, or human inventions and traditions, while the heart is barren and unfruitful toward God. We are told, therefore, that "it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein;" while we are warned against being "carried about with divers and strange doctrines." (Hebrews 13:9.) Divine grace makes God known in goodness, and brings present and eternal blessings to us. Thus God is made known as having come near in Christ to love, bless, and keep us for ever. Nor are these ways of grace limited toward us; for yet it is said, as we have before noticed, that "He giveth more grace," and His present throne is a "throne of grace" to which we are invited to come boldly to "obtain mercy, and to find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16.) Is it any marvel then that another apostle should be directed by the Spirit to speak of "the true grace of God wherein ye stand," of "the grace that is to be brought" to us "at the revelation of Jesus Christ," and of God as "the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus"? (1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 5:10, 12.)

There is nothing that will enable us to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart like the enjoyment of "the grace" which is in Him; nothing so constrain us to seek His honour, and to live not unto ourselves, but to Him who died and rose again for us; nothing so separate us unto Him, and detach us from what is contrary to His mind; nothing so fortify us against the doctrines and deceivableness of men's traditions, and enable us to bear loss and suffering for the truth's sake with cheerfulness. Apart from the sense of divine grace, we easily lose the joy of the Father's love, and the sense of His delight in us, and then gradually slide into the love of the world. If we do not abide in Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, how can we serve and honour Him?

But there is truth to be preserved, as well as grace to do it. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Both were perfectly manifested in Him; and such as are strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus are admonished to care for the truth. "The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." God's present truth as to His assembly; the gift, indwelling, and operations of the Holy Spirit here during our Lord's absence; the hope of our Lord's coming; and the walk in love, obedience, and righteousness suited to it, were at that moment in jeopardy; for all in Asia had turned away from Paul, and he expected that many would "turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." He, therefore, urges Timothy to be courageous, and to maintain the truth at all costs, and use every true means for its continuance by committing it to faithful men. (2 Tim. 2:2.)

Observe, it is not useful men here, but faithful men; those whose hearts are set on pleasing God, and keeping His Word. To others the truth of God is of little value; but to the faithful, walking in "the truth," and contending earnestly "for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints," are matters of the gravest importance. Such do not judge the truth, but let the truth judge them. They rejoice in the divine authenticity of the written Word, and bow to its authority as final and decisive. The truth reveals Christ, and Christ is the truth. It exposes and warns us against the doctrines and traditions of men, whether they appear in a rationalistic or ritualistic garb. Nothing can be more positive than the truth. Well, then, might an aged apostle say, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth." If, when the Galatian believers slipped away from grace, they had little regard for the truth of God, and walked carnally, so we may be assured that it is only by our being "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus," that we shall really love "the truth," and seek to spread it for the glory of God. H. H. S.