Grace is the first ray of comfort to the soul; and though it is the subject first known and most cherished, yet its measure, according to God’s revelation of it, is little known. Grace, according to popular teaching, is the undeserved favor of God in saving anyone who believes in the Savior. The soul’s need defines the measure of the grace. If grace did not secure to me justification and everlasting happiness, it would not meet my need. But it is much more. While it has rescued me from everlasting misery, and saved me form all the consequences of my sins, far beyond that, it has placed me in nearness to my Father.
Having sinned, I could not restore myself to the position of innocence that Adam held. I could be a forgiven sinner, forgiven up to the last moment of my life here, and thus be happy in heaven. Escape from judgment, and an assurance of everlasting happiness, is for the most part the idea which the word grace conveys to most Christians. Hence what meets the known need is always presented to the sinner first, though in the mind of the Father there is no break in its blessed endless stream. The great fact is gradually disclosed that not only is the sinner to be forgiven, but that he is to be made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12).
If grace were to stop at simply having met the measure of man’s need, God’s share and delight in the saved one would be overlooked. The Father in His love delights that you, once a sinner, on believing on Him, should not only be justified, but fitted to be in His own presence for His own pleasure, which is infinitely greater than your own. The tendency is to regard grace only as it affects the sinner, and to omit the satisfaction it is to the Father to have us as His children with Him; “the excellent, in whom is all My delight” (Psa 16:3).
My Father desires to have me for Himself, to be a companion, the very Bride of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a member of His Body. Hence His grace super-abounds over the sin. If I have lost anything by sin which was a glory to a man, that is not restored to me in grace. Grace gives me something infinitely better; not to suit the man that was, but to suit me as a new creation as brought to the Father. The grace of God does not reinstate me in the paradise lost by sin, but positions me in a much greater one—from the earthly, to the heavenly.
I am forgiven, like the prodigal, for all I have done, but nothing that I have squandered is restored to me. I receive everything new; and I am made, as he was in figure, quite new, and fitted for the immense exaltation to which I am raised by grace. The prodigal was not restored to the land, as a Jew would have expected, but he was received into the father’s house with a favor and distinction never accorded to any one before; and this was all simply of grace. True, he has to be reconciled and kissed before he could be prepared for this immense excess of grace, that is, the measure of grace beyond his need.
Surely Paul was well qualified to tell us that we are made to sit in the heavenlies in Christ, and, seeing that so much grace has been shown us, that in us might be displayed in the coming ages, “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). And thus only we arrive at the measure of the grace of which we are to be the expositors, not only now, but in the ages to come.
- J B Stoney