Of Him, and Through Him, and to Him - All Things!

Romans 11:36  •  14 min. read  •  grade level: 9
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OM 11:36{Such, under the power of divine inspiration, was the language of a servant of God. He had just run rapidly through the past, present and future of the inhabitable earth; had seen its changing, phases as connected with God, and His dealings through various economies; had shown that the divine object in all those variations, so bewildering to man in his pride, had been very simple: God had so wrought as to include all in unbelief, that so He might have mercy upon all. It is not here Adam and Paradise, but man (Jew and Gentile) outside of Paradise. He speaks not here directly of how the creature had been allowed to break up the creature's circumstances of finite blessing, so as that the ruin might fall into the hand of God, so that Ile might do, in mercy, as might seem good to Him, with that which had failed as being an expression of His power and wisdom—and had failed when set upon its own responsibility: but He speaks rather of how all light and responsibility committed to the failed creature in the various economies or dispensations only more fully proved the creature to be a failed one, and brought him into the place in which mercy alone had a right to speak. Tried, in various ways, man ever proved himself a ruined rebel; but God had planned a wide-spread display of His own mercy, and when all the various parte of the inhabitable Earth should have shown out what they were, God would show out, in these same places, what He was as the God of Mercy. He would have scope enough to do it in them; varieties of vessels too would be there; and the display would, have its brightness enhanced by the contrast between the smallness of what had been and the greatness then to be present, and by the contrast between the mercy of God and the unrighteousness of the creature. " For God bath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all " (vv. 32). His whole soul is moved—and well it might be so—and filled with the glorious subject—it rolls forth the blessed anthem: " 0 the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen." (vv. 33-36).
This last clause, "For of Him, and through, Him, and to Him, are all things," is thus the reasonable solution of the whole vision of. God's dealings with man upon earth, in dispensation. It is abstract enough, yet strikes a chord of praise in the Apostle's heart, and he adds, " To whom be glory forever. Amen."
This explanation of these ways of the God of Mercy in His long-suffering dealings with man in rebellion upon earth, traced (chaps. 9.-12.) through various economies, comes in after the explanations (chaps. i.-viii.) of the mercies of God. Nothing but mercy could do for man, whether Without revelation, or under the law, or without law; and mercy's path was already plain, for Christ had died, and risen, and ascended up on high; and God, the Holy Ghost, was come down to be at once the Power, and Seal, and Sustainer of blessing to those that believed in Him from whom He was come down. These mercies of God (chaps. 1.-8.) so rich, so full, so heavenly, and so divine as they are set forth in chap. 8., magnified and confirmed by their connection with these ways of the God of Mercy, through all His dealings with man upon earth, are brought to bear (chap. 12. to end) as the power of living to God. The origin or source of mercy is God its power of endurance and success is God; it leads all whom it embraces to God: of, through, and to Him, in one sense or other, are all things, but most directly of, through, and to Him all those things of which Paul was here speaking.
And this truly is a great salvation-to see God as the end of our retrospect; God as the source to us of it, at least, as a whole; to know God to be more present in power than all else, whether it be self, Satan, the world, or the flesh—God overruling all—causing all things to work together for good to them that love Him; in the present purpose, too, of all that is there as to faith, God and God alone. And if He be alone in the purpose which is present, He surely must fill the future—of Him, through Him, to Him all things.
Our gospel is divine as well as heavenly. As being heavenly, the grand purpose of it is shown in the family, as seen in the Father's house in John 14, and in the Bride, the Lamb's wife, seen in glory in Rev. 21, and 22. In this respect, our glad tidings lead us up to heavenly spheres, in contrast to Israel's glad tidings, which will place them in the center of an earth which shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, even as the waters cover the sea. As divine, it gives us the power of known association, through grace, with the God of Eternity in the past, the present, and that which is to come; in knowing the spring and source of our all to be the Eternal God; in knowing the way, first, of deliverance from evil and of entrance into blessedness-in all the wondrous works, sufferings, services, and offices of the blessed Lord Jesus; and, secondly, of the application of this, and the securing of it, immediately to us to be by the Holy Ghost; and all tending to God; but because tending in a present purpose of the soul God is known as a present as well as a future end.
I desire to say a few words upon this in connection with the full liberty of the gospel of Christ in the soul and life of a believer. For I believe many have failed, and that there is danger to many of us of failing herein: to some from not seeing the importance of this truth, as a united whole, viz., that our gospel, in its fullness, is this our full association with God-our being able to say with truth, " of Him, through Him, to Him, all things!" And to others there is danger from their not seeing the inseparableness, of the three statements of, through, and to Him, all things. The subject is one of immense importance to the. Christian, as to his own soul, as having to judge himself that we be not judged of the Lord; and it is one of pre-eminent interest to brotherly love, as affording the solution of, and the cure for, a great deal of ill-proportioned Christianity in those we love;-it gives, too, the explanation, I am fain to believe, of a great many of the differences, that try brotherly love. May the meditation of it lead us to judge ourselves, that we may be better able to help others; to forbear toward the weak, and not to be stumbled by the strong.
I may add, that in a day like the present, when rush, hurry, and bustle characterize man in all his doings, quietness and calm: mess will be the fruit of this being hidden (oneself, and all one's circumstances) in God. For what trouble can trouble His abode? What whirlwind can reach the soul that dwells in the secret of His presence? (Psa. 46:1010Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10).)
Adam, in the fall, took a new position for himself. Creation was all of God, and through God, and to God; and so was himself, Adam, as part of it. His position and condition, as created, were in accordance one with another also. In the fall, he changed his condition and position too. Refusing to be subject to, to live to God, So far as the thoughts of his heart and the intentions of his mind were concerned, he in purpose, set up for himself. He would be as God. That he could not thus take himself out of the Almighty's hands is clear. The unchangeableness of the living God's purpose, " that all should be to His own glory," stood fast. The creature that would not be so, could not reverse that; he could only, in his puny littleness, set himself in opposition-and be broken. He did change his inward condition in changing his position before God, in ceasing to be subject; and in, acting upon his power to be voluntarily dependent, he lost himself-he fell.
This departure from God was man's own act, though set on to it by Satan. It was man's own act; and he has reaped the fruits of it, and is under the consequences of it. It is a great moral disease, it is morally ruin, for a creature so to have sunk down into itself—to have become so surrounded and filled with itself, that self has taken the place of spring, and power and end of everything to it. It knows, in sin, no God above it, that it can depend upon. God is to it a Being of power adverse to itself. Now the Gospel of God's grace meets man in 'all his selfishness—meets him just there where he feels that God ought to be against him, and brings in those parts of the divine character which man, so placed, can recognize, in order to give rest to his soul. Such a soul must own God to be above it, and not adverse to it either. And yet it may be very far from seeing how the whole salvation is of God, and the whole application of it through Him. But it is learning that there is a mighty God above, and. something of His ways, and is getting unconsciously set in its right place before God—its right place of dependence. When light dawns more clearly into it, it finds that, indeed, it is fully saved, and that the blessed work of its salvation, while it suits it, came forth not for its sake, but because of what God was and is in His own being. He is merciful, and delights in mercy—has delighted in doing mercy's work, and does delight in giving to man the full enjoyment of it. The discovery of this gives solid peace—we understand where mercy has set us. And this is most blessed. Yet I think it will be found that there is a something which precedes this, even the spirit of obedience;—the soul seeking oft, it knows not why, God and His presence, and entire surrender to Him of everything. Now, this desire to do God's will,—this owning of " all to God "—and therefore that nothing can suffice oneself save to be " wholly "—heart, mind, soul, and body—in principle and in practice to God, is a very important thing. In a creature it is nothing less than God's glory. It can never be given up if we are to be like Christ,—if God is to be God to us. I call attention to this point because I am persuaded that in a clear understanding of it the well-being of the whole flock of God, and of every soul individually is concerned. God must be the end, the sole end, where His power is. The Son of God, the perfect Servant of God, knew no other end than God's will and God's glory. It was His glory to be here below, doing nothing but God's will, suffering nothing but God's pleasure. If any fain any other state as one of blessedness here below for the disciple, they deceive their own selves, and are hearers only, and not doers of His will.
It is true the desire to be, to live, to God, may in us, at first, be mixed up with other elements, which may have to be judged and removed. It may be, at first, little more than the revived sense of what we were made for as creatures, when conscience is acting in the presence of God. It may be mixed up, afterward, with a sense of power in us to stand upon nature's foundation: and as such power exists not-the thought that one has it is a delusion; it may be legal, from one supposing that the law was given that we might live by it; it may have a thousand false colorings,-but when all is said and done, the truth remains, that if any one have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His:-and the Spirit of Christ was and is emphatically the spirit of holy gracious obedience to God. Spirit of discernment, without doubt, He is-to divide, nicely, between foundation and superstructure: between the duties of root and of branch; spirit of judgment too He is, owning Christ the Savior in His place and service, and the believer as saved in his place and duties, too,—but always the spirit of obedience; always and ever in subjection to God and the word of His grace, and leading unto obedience. Let the difficulty of retaining the Spirit of obedience unclouded be fully admitted,-but still, if saved, we are saved unto God, and the life of God in the soul, and he that touches that touches our all.
The Spirit of God has, as His unmixed purpose, to seek the glory of God and the honor of Christ. What else would you charge upon that Holy One as His purpose and work here below? To it from a taste for the world in its present state,-is it from the pleasures of the treatment He has experienced from the flesh and from the devil, that He abides among and in us? Did He own us as His end-when He sought us,-while He keeps us? Oh, no: merciful and long-suffering as He is to us ward, He is so because He links us up with a great purpose of God in Christ. And would I debase to the level of my thoughts and affections His actings in me? Nay, I am called upon to rise to His level rather. Now I do most solemnly believe, may I be wrong, that very many are in jeopardy just in not seeing how their perfect liberty in Christ supposes (what it gives) a perfect purpose to live, to be to God, and to God alone. And sure I am that it is impossible for two to walk together except they be agreed. Will God give up His object in order to walk with me, if I have an object at variance with His? Or must I give up my object to walk with Him, according to that which He seeks. And is it not here that one fruitful cause of separation among disciples of Christ is found? Namely, the various allowed measures of mixing up with God's sole object—which is His glory in the honor of Christ as Lord of all-portions of worldliness, fleshliness, and Satanic objects. I warn my brethren, the Church and the world cannot walk on together. God's Spirit is onward, forward:-the face of every one that is led by Him is, as it were, set firmly for an onward course. If men will walk according to the flesh, they cannot seek heaven, but the world; and then not the Holy Ghost, but the prince of the power of the air is he that worketh in them. I feel the moment to be one of crisis in this respect. If you are God's—live to Him and go onward—forward a little while further; how very little, is the little while! and count the flesh to be already crucified with its affections, and lusts, and the world a wilderness. If you will not do this Satan will catch your flesh, and into the world sink you must.