The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
R Gerrard, Enfield
'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 Cor. 8. 9.
In an age when the old paths of divine revelation are being lost amid a maze of human speculation and uncertainty, it is good to be reminded of the solid assurance with which Biblical writers penned their statements of divine truth. These Corinthians had been puffed up by their real or assumed knowledge of other matters, but Paul here reminds them of one thing they knew that was calculated to humble them and call out all that was best in their Christian characters. They knew, as a matter of personal experience 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ'. Holy Scripture had revealed His deity, His power, His wisdom and His holiness, and the record of His wonderful life had displayed the beauties of His moral perfections, but, as needy sinners, it was the revelation of His grace that had brought them to Him. Self-contained and self-sufficient as the world is today, nevertheless, the crying need of our fellows is to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. His coming in grace is our door of hope, as His coming in justice will be the closing of that door to every unbeliever. Let us listen to Paul as he unfolds to us the details of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
'HE WAS RICH'
To measure His grace we need to remember from whence He stooped. We bow in the presence of the Infinite, for He was rich beyond all thought. Co-equal, co-eternal with the Father, possessing all the attributes and prerogatives of deity; the object of His Father's love and of the unceasing adoration and obedience of angels. Our grandest conceptions and all the resources of human language fail to touch the fringe of His glories. His own words are indicative of His former state:'... the glory which I had with thee before the world was'.
'YET FOR YOUR SAKES HE BECAME POOR'
If the wealthiest man on earth should voluntarily reduce himself to poverty for a benevolent object, our admiration would be excited, but the condescension of Christ transcends all thought. The Ruler of the universe, dwelling in light unapproachable, became a man. He who controls the stars in their courses, was born a helpless, clinging babe - God manifest in flesh. And as a man, how He humbled Himself! He passed by king's palaces and was born the reputed son of a village carpenter, growing up in the obscurity of despised Nazareth. Throughout His public life He was dependent for subsistence on the charity of others. The world had no room for Him; a borrowed cradle and a borrowed tomb marked the beginning and the end of His life. The poverty of His life culminated in the poverty of His death; He was lifted up on a cross between two thieves, 'a reproach of men and despised of the people'. Oh wondrous stoop - from the throne of the universe to the cross of shame; from the crown of glory to the crown of thorns; from the worship of holy angels to the derision of sinful men. Yet despite the disappointment of His disciples and the apparent triumph of His enemies, the cross was the crown and consummation of His work of grace. Most wonderful of all, it was all for our sakes, who deserved only the wrath of God. Thus 'He who knew no sin was made sin for us', 'He was wounded for our transgressions' - paid the utmost penalty of God's law on account of our sins. Redemption accomplished! Amazing love and glorious triumph of grace.
'THAT YE THROUGH HIS POVERTY MIGHT BE RICH'
He died that we might live; took our guilt that we might have God's pardon; bore our sins that we might have His righteousness; endured God's wrath that we might have His kiss of welcome; conquered sin, death and the devil, that we might be delivered from sin's power and enjoy the blessed hope of being with Him in the Father's house for all eternity. God help us to relinquish false hopes, cast aside the rags of fancied merit, and receive with grateful hearts from our blessed Saviour the riches of His free salvation.