The True Grace of God

1 Peter 5:12  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 12
There is not a single doctrine of Scripture that is met by so much repugnance in the human mind as the doctrine of divine grace. This repugnance is not confined to unconverted persons only; for the very same disposition, if watched, will be found to operate in the minds of those who are renewed by the grace which, in measure, is opposed and denied. It is not that the necessity of grace is altogether disallowed-a certain degree of it is admitted, as essential to acceptance with God; as even the Pharisee himself could allow, who thanked GOD for the difference between himself and others-but its absoluteness and completeness, i.e., its real and divine character finds an unwilling reception in our hearts.
It will be found, I imagine, on strict inquiry, that the substitution of our own feelings and natural apprehensions, in the place of an absolute and simple faith in God's testimony, has much to do with wrong and inadequate views of God's grace. The natural bias of the mind, acquired, it may be, and strengthened by systematic exhibitions of truth, goes very far in restricting the breadth and freedom of thought in the divine word; and makes it a very hard thing for a man to " become a fool that he may be wise."
Two things are exceedingly needful to be understood and kept in prominence, in order to the right apprehension of grace, viz., what the nature of man is, and has been proved to be, under the various trials to which it has been subjected in the dispensations of God, and the real nature and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, as God's full, and blessed, and only remedy for all this proved and manifested evil in man.
It is comparatively an easy thing to dwell on the sense of personal evil, and to confess in humiliation the workings of a corrupt nature; but it is exceedingly difficult to connect the conscious evil of the flesh, with all that has been discovered by GOD to exist in that flesh, from the day of its first murderous outbreak in Cain, until its enmity found a horrid vent in the rejection and murder of God's only Son. If it were kept in mind that it is the very same nature that failed in Eden, and filled the earth with violence before the flood-that turned to the baseness of idolatry in the newly-peopled world, and exhibited itself in the filthiness of Sodom-which wrought in rebellion against the law of God when he thus dealt with the Jew-and, finally, in Jew and Gentile joined in crucifying God's Son when he was sent into the world-it would go far towards clearing the ground for the admission of grace in all its fullness and perfectness, as presented in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
If my apprehensions of sin are limited by the discoveries I may have made of my own evil, and are not corrected by the results of God's dealing with man, brought to an issue in the guilt of the cross, I shall stop far short of the proved abomination and wickedness of the flesh; and shall in the same measure practically fall short of a just estimate of the riches of God's grace-that " true grace of God wherein we stand."
It is this which constitutes the special evil of wrong and inadequate thoughts of grace, that it disparages God's infinite goodness, and the value of Christ's work.
It is a right thing for a Christian to be desiring holiness, and to be mourning over his want of conformity to Christ; but what is it that gives the power of holiness, and that produces practical conformity to Christ?
The grace of God is not merely negative in its operations. There is a transforming power in the very gaze of the soul on Him, through whose grace we are saved, and who is the object of God's delight.
The true character of this grace can never be maintained in the soul, apart from walking in the abiding sense of the presence of the Lord. Out of that presence I lack the light that manifests it, and the darkness of the world produces a hebetude of the faculties that apprehend it.
It is the province of faith to be continually lifting up our souls out of this world, and all that is passing around us and within us, and to show us things-the only realities-in the light of God.
And it is just as we get above the region of sense; and are acted upon by the realities of faith, that we are established in grace, and that our comfort and joy as the children of God are advanced, and our walk and ways here are according to God.
What we are as the children of God can only be known to faith; and the infinite depths or grace, and the bright prospects of glory, are laid open only to the eye of faith.
It is a true and blessed fruit of the Father's grace "that we should be called the sons of God"-but then it is added-" therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew Him not." It is not in the scope of the world's knowledge to know the children of God.
But this knowledge is essential to all who would walk as the children of God. Without it, and without the constant exercise of soul on this most blessed truth, there. cannot be the taking or the maintaining of our right place in the world, as exhibiting the grace that is to be God's witness to the world-" blameless and harmless the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
What we are is necessary to be known and cherished in the soul as the power and ground of exhibiting what we should be. It was so with the Lord. Had He not been what He was, his whole course through the world would have been altered by it. Could He have forgotten -or denied his claim that he was the Son of God-then (I speak not of his work but) his whole character and ways would have sunk to another level in the world.
But this is a truth known and admitted by us all. Still faith needs to be strengthened against the continual contradiction of the world and sense, and our hearts to be recalled to the grace in which we stand.