THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE The purpose of God is to show the exceeding riches of His grace, reaches beyond the boundaries of this age and is the supreme divine purpose in the whole creation, preservation, and consummation of the universe. Christ is declared to be the cause, center, purpose, and benefactor of all creation. "All things were created by him and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist" (Colossians 1:16-17), but the important aspect of all salvation centers in the fact that "through the blood of his cross" He is to reconcile all things to Himself. "And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death" (Colossians 1:21-22). Of all the aspects of His eternal person, the emphasis falls on the fact that He was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Even those who are redeemed by His precious blood and who are the outshining manifestation of the grace of God, were chosen in Him "before the foundation of the world"; moreover the "good works" of those who are saved, were "before ordained" that they should walk in them. So, likewise, sweeping on into the ages to come, we are told that of all the glories that will belong to the Lord of Glory, that glory which was given to Him because of His redeeming love will be all-surpassing. It is declared of Him that He is "appointed heir of all things"; by Him the ages were programmed; He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and express image of His person; He upholds all things by the word of His power. But to what purpose is this marvelous unfolding of His eternal being if it is not to relate His deity to His present saving grace; to accomplish which, it stated, He, having "by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:2-3). Thus absolutely does the whole universe center about the sacrificial death of the Son of God, by whom that heavenly company are to be redeemed, purified, transformed, and translated into the eternal manifestation of "the riches of His grace." Divine grace could have had no place in this universe until sin had entered. Through creation, the wisdom and power of God had been disclosed, but there had been no unveiling of God's love for the undeserving, since there had been no occasion for its manifestation. This statement does not imply that we are to sin that grace may abound. There is a wide difference between the fact that God permitted sin to enter the world, and the thought that thereby God licenses man to sin. Whether there have been greater motives which have actuated God in permitting sin to enter the world than He as revealed, none can say. It is certain, however, that the greatest motive that He has been pleased to reveal is to be inferred from the fact that grace cannot be exercised where there is no demerit, and that He designs above all else that His saving grace shall have an actual and adequate demonstration in all the ages to come. How could it be otherwise? What poverty of experience would reign in a universe that had never dreamed of true heart-compassion, the incomparable joy of forgiving and being forgiven, or that never would have heard the victory song of the redeemed! A universe which otherwise would have been, with all its magnificence of celestial glory, as cold, unyielding, and unapproachable as the law of infinite righteousness itself, has been colored and warmed by the penitent's tears, and by the unveiling of the unfathomable grace of God toward the sinful. Highest of all revealed glories—and who can measure its relative import?—the boundless grace of God is being manifested through the salvation of sinners. Such is the spectacle concerning which angelic hosts and human throngs will marvel, and about which they will sing throughout the ages of the ages to come. Returning to Ephesians 3:8-11 we read that the apostle Paul was sent to preach the "unsearchable riches of Christ." Such riches could be brought to light only by means of the fact of sin and its cure through the cross of Christ. The apostle was also sent "to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery [sacred secret], which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." This sacred secret is, according to the preceding context, the calling out and saving in this age of a company from both Jews and Gentiles, which company is the true "church which is his body." By the salvation of these, He purposes to unveil before all heavenly hosts His greatest display of wisdom as it is seen in the manifestation of His bosom of love through the coming of Christ into the world to redeem the lost. For we read: "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." At no point can tolerance be given to the theory that the innocent man in the Garden of Eden was God's first and highest ideal, that sin entered in spite of God, and that redemption is an afterthought—the best available remedy in view of the wreckage of sin. It is a redeemed sinner who takes the highest place in glory. This redemption was in view before all creation. The finite mind is soon overwhelmed in the contemplation of the eternal facts and purposes of God, but there is much that we may understand when we read, first concerning the coming of Christ into the world to redeem by His precious blood: "Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (I Peter 1:20); "The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8); and, "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23). And, when we read concerning the eternal purpose of God in the saved: "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (I Peter 1:2), and, again, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified" (Romans 8:29-30). If the supreme motive of God is to reveal His grace, then salvation must be by grace alone, or the eternal purpose of God must fail. Hence we read: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-9); "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not [the works of the law], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:4-5); "And if by grace then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" (Romans 11:6); "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved" (Acts 15:11). On no other basis can grace be manifested than by salvation which is wholly unrelated to human merit or works. John Stewart ~ hbh@email.com minds.com/lovejoypeaceforever

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