Object of Grace; Subject to Government

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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Among the many names under which it has pleased God to make Himself known, none is sweeter to the heart of the Christian than this: “The God of all grace” (1 Peter 5:10). To grace we owe everything; it is the parent spring of all blessing. Exclude grace, and you exclude pardon, peace, eternal life and endless glory, for these are the gifts which grace brings from the heavenly treasury. Let grace go, and nothing remains but our deserts; the light of day is gone, and we are shut up to a night that shall never end. It is the grace of God that brings salvation to all men (Titus 2:11). By grace the believer is justified (Rom. 3:24), by grace he is saved (Eph. 2:8), and in grace he stands (Rom. 5:2). The redemption which he has in Christ is according to the riches of God’s grace, for He is rich in grace (Eph. 1:7). Moreover, in the ages to come, He will show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7). Angels, principalities and powers shall then see grace in its garments of glory. Never will grace look more beautiful than when its handiwork is fully seen in the taking of poor sinners from the lowest depths of degradation and displaying them in association with Christ in the glory of God.
Well might Paul exhort Timothy to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Well might he say to the Hebrews, “It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace” (Heb. 13:9). And well might he declare for himself that his only desire was that he might finish his course with joy and pursue the ministry which he had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the glad tidings of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Let us exalt grace. Let us crown her with garlands—the rich, free, boundless grace of our God—for she is worthy to be praised.
But while it is true that every believer is set in the changeless grace of God, that he is always there, and never will cease to be in divine favor, yet let it be remembered that grace does not place him beyond the sphere of divine government. In this connection, his actions, the state of his soul, and the way he carries himself hour by hour acquire an importance not easily exaggerated. Grace and government go on together; they proceed on parallel lines, and if the believer is the object of the former, he is no less subject to the latter. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal. 6:7-8). This is an abiding principle of God’s government, from the application of which, either on the side of warning or encouragement, grace does not exempt any.
Examples of the Old Testament
The lives of many of the Old Testament saints furnish striking examples of this great principle, by the aid of which we are able to distinguish clearly between grace and government. And this great principle of God’s government does not change with the change of dispensations. “Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30). Let us not think that because we are the subjects of divine grace, therefore we are beyond the range of divine government. Not so, for in 1 Peter 1:17 we read, “If ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Do these words not tell us that if sovereign grace has set us in eternal relationship with the Father, giving us the place of children before Him, therefore the Father observes our ways, judges our actions and their motives, and deals with us accordingly? What a man sows, that shall he also reap. If a saint of God sows to the flesh, what shall the harvest be? Shall he reap joy and peace in the Holy Spirit? Even in natural things, men do not gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles (Matt. 7:16).
God Does Govern
In the face, then, of the fact that God does govern among men, let us ask ourselves, To what are we sowing? What are the things in which our hearts and minds live? Are we sowing to the Spirit? Do we heed the Word of God? Is the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven the One with whom we are increasingly occupied? There is untold blessing in being engaged with Him. “He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Let us seek the things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God; seek them as one that seeks for hidden treasure. Then we shall taste of heavenly springs; we shall sit “under His shadow with great delight,” and His fruit shall be sweet to our taste.
And if there is in our souls the humbling consciousness of having declined from Christ, we must remember that we have to do with the God of all grace. However low we may have sunk, however great and grievous our declension, the thought of God as the God of all grace may encourage us to return to Him with a heart softened by the recollection of grace so unchanging, loathing ourselves that we could have ever turned away from One whose grace is unwearied and inexhaustible.
Christian Truth (adapted)