CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 16 March Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace By Pastor Bob Bingham Discipleship, Grace 0 Comment Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace Discipleship in most Christian circles is treated as a separate part of the Christian Experience. However, biblical discipleship is part of the salvation message and refers to the believer’s daily walk. Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and continues until he takes us home with Him in glory. This may be expressed as, “We are being saved from the penalty of sin, and are now being saved from the power of sin and we will eventually be saved from the presence of sin.” Jesus says that His disciples will live according to His Word, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly My disciples” (John 8:31). “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in my and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Disciples are like sheep who are secure and daily follow Jesus as their Shepherd, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:14-16). The following acrostic is a simple outline illustrating God’s GRACE in discipleship. G — GOSPEL The good news is that our salvation is all of grace by faith in Christ — not of any self-effort as expressed by the Apostle Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He continues regarding our daily walk of grace (our sanctification), “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk I them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Apostle reminds us that this life is not a do-it-yourself-kit or a self-reformation program, but, “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Christian life is all of God! It is His grace from start to finish! R — RELATIONSHIP It is often taught that we believers are “saved to serve.” In other words, God saved us because He somehow needs our help. Obviously, in Genesis 2 and 3 we find that God served Adam and Eve rather than they serve Him. He placed them in the Garden of Eden where all their needs were supplied. In fact, God, desiring their fellowship, also walked with them in the cool of the day — relationship! Jesus demonstrated for us His desire for relationship as He taught and interacted with His disciples and followers. He told of and revealed His intimate relationship with His Father. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). We Christians are precious to God in that He has chosen to have a close, intimate relationship with us by dwelling within us, even as God dwelt within Jesus. He promised His disciples, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He bears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-14). Christ graciously saved us for relationship with Himself! A — ALIGNMENT Freedom and independence are the hallmarks of Americans. Jesus uses the metaphor of goats and sheep to illustrate independent and dependent people (Matthew 24:31-35). Goats are very independent and can take care of themselves, but sheep are very dependent and need someone to care for them. As Christians we are no longer to live as independent goats, but as sheep dependent upon our good Shepherd, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand, My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30). God graciously saved us in order to bring us into alignment with Himself and His purposes! C — CHRIST IS LIFE The emphasis of our American upbringing, education, sports and recreation is focused on our being the very best we can be. Often Christians are challenged that God deserves excellence in everything. So, we try harder and harder to please God by attempting to improve the old Adamic nature. This always proves to be fruitless, as the Apostle Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” And then with a sigh of relief, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25)! Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin and from the futility of trying to live up to the Law [the standard of life that He designed for mankind]. The Apostle Paul answers, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6, 10). The focus of the Christian life must always be upon the Lord Jesus Christ — and Him alone. “Christ is our life” (Colossians 3:4). The writer of Hebrews refers to the Christian life as a life of resting daily from our creative work as God did on the seventh day from His creative work. But as God continues to actively keep the universe going, we are to rest upon Jesus Christ to keep our lives by His life. “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11). God graciously dwells within us to live out His perfect life in, through and with our faithful participation with Him. E — EXHALT CHRIST Much of the emphasis of the church today is upon preaching and teaching the Scriptures, worship music, evangelism, programs for self development, service, addiction recovery and community outreach. These are all good and commendable, but mostly mankind centered. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, the church, both universally, and locally. He should be revered and allowed to lead every aspect of one’s life and ministry, whether it be corporate worship, programs, boards, committees, and the like. Jesus said; “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Lifting up Jesus wherever we are and whatever we are doing is a privilege — not a burden. The Apostle Paul encourages us to preach and teach Christ always, “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). IN CONCLUSION Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ and continues through life until Christ takes us home with Him to heaven. The grace of discipleship is that Jesus Christ is the source and fulfillment of the disciple’s daily life— from beginning to end. Truly it is ALL OF GRACE! About the Author: Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years. He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years. Shepherding Grace Ministries PO Box 1930 Englewood, CO 80150-1930 http://www.ShepherdingGrace.org Discipleship is Dynamic, Relational, and All of Grace Discipleship in most Christian circles is treated as a separate part of the Christian Experience. However, biblical discipleship is part of the salvation message and refers to the believer’s daily walk. Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross and continues until he takes us home with Him in glory. This may be expressed as, “We are being saved from the penalty of sin, and are now being saved from the power of sin and we will eventually be saved from the presence of sin.” Jesus says that His disciples will live according to His Word, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly My disciples” (John 8:31). “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in my and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Disciples are like sheep who are secure and daily follow Jesus as their Shepherd, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:14-16). The following acrostic is a simple outline illustrating God’s GRACE in discipleship. G — GOSPEL The good news is that our salvation is all of grace by faith in Christ — not of any self-effort as expressed by the Apostle Paul, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He continues regarding our daily walk of grace (our sanctification), “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk I them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Apostle reminds us that this life is not a do-it-yourself-kit or a self-reformation program, but, “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). The Christian life is all of God! It is His grace from start to finish! R — RELATIONSHIP It is often taught that we believers are “saved to serve.” In other words, God saved us because He somehow needs our help. Obviously, in Genesis 2 and 3 we find that God served Adam and Eve rather than they serve Him. He placed them in the Garden of Eden where all their needs were supplied. In fact, God, desiring their fellowship, also walked with them in the cool of the day — relationship! Jesus demonstrated for us His desire for relationship as He taught and interacted with His disciples and followers. He told of and revealed His intimate relationship with His Father. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you, I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). We Christians are precious to God in that He has chosen to have a close, intimate relationship with us by dwelling within us, even as God dwelt within Jesus. He promised His disciples, “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He bears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:13-14). Christ graciously saved us for relationship with Himself! A — ALIGNMENT Freedom and independence are the hallmarks of Americans. Jesus uses the metaphor of goats and sheep to illustrate independent and dependent people (Matthew 24:31-35). Goats are very independent and can take care of themselves, but sheep are very dependent and need someone to care for them. As Christians we are no longer to live as independent goats, but as sheep dependent upon our good Shepherd, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand, My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30). God graciously saved us in order to bring us into alignment with Himself and His purposes! C — CHRIST IS LIFE The emphasis of our American upbringing, education, sports and recreation is focused on our being the very best we can be. Often Christians are challenged that God deserves excellence in everything. So, we try harder and harder to please God by attempting to improve the old Adamic nature. This always proves to be fruitless, as the Apostle Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” And then with a sigh of relief, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25)! Jesus Christ came to redeem us from sin and from the futility of trying to live up to the Law [the standard of life that He designed for mankind]. The Apostle Paul answers, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:6, 10). The focus of the Christian life must always be upon the Lord Jesus Christ — and Him alone. “Christ is our life” (Colossians 3:4). The writer of Hebrews refers to the Christian life as a life of resting daily from our creative work as God did on the seventh day from His creative work. But as God continues to actively keep the universe going, we are to rest upon Jesus Christ to keep our lives by His life. “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11). God graciously dwells within us to live out His perfect life in, through and with our faithful participation with Him. E — EXHALT CHRIST Much of the emphasis of the church today is upon preaching and teaching the Scriptures, worship music, evangelism, programs for self development, service, addiction recovery and community outreach. These are all good and commendable, but mostly mankind centered. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Body, the church, both universally, and locally. He should be revered and allowed to lead every aspect of one’s life and ministry, whether it be corporate worship, programs, boards, committees, and the like. Jesus said; “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Lifting up Jesus wherever we are and whatever we are doing is a privilege — not a burden. The Apostle Paul encourages us to preach and teach Christ always, “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-25). IN CONCLUSION Biblical discipleship begins at the point of faith in Christ and continues through life until Christ takes us home with Him to heaven. The grace of discipleship is that Jesus Christ is the source and fulfillment of the disciple’s daily life— from beginning to end. Truly it is ALL OF GRACE! About the Author: Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years. He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years. Shepherding Grace Ministries PO Box 1930 Englewood, CO 80150-1930 http://www.ShepherdingGrace.org Related Jesus Christ, "Full of Grace and Truth" Jesus Christ, "Full of Grace and Truth" IN describing the coming of Christ, John says, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” In Jesus Christ, all the attributes of God are seen; veiled, but yet verily there. You have only to read the Gospels, and to look with willing eyes, and you shall behold in Christ all that can possibly be seen of God. It is veiled in human flesh, as it must be; for the glory of God is not to be seen by us absolutely. It is toned down to these dim eyes of ours; but the Godhead is there, the perfect Godhead in union with the perfect manhood of Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever. The two Divine things which are more clearly seen in Jesus than aught else are “grace and truth.” Christ did not simply come to tell us about grace, but actually to bring us grace. He is not merely full of the news of grace and truth, but of grace and truth themselves. Others had been messengers of gracious tidings, but He came to bring grace. Others teach us truth, but Jesus is the truth. He is that grace and truth whereof others spake. Jesus is not merely a Teacher, an Exhorter, a Worker of grace and truth; but these heavenly things are in Him, and He is full of them. Christ has brought us grace in rivers and truth in streams; and the two rivers unite in the one fullness of grace and truth. That is to say, the grace is truthful grace; not grace in fiction, or in fancy, not grace to be hoped for or to be dreamed of, but grace every atom of which is fact; redemption which does redeem, pardon which does blot out sin, renewal which actually regenerates, salvation which completely saves. We have not in Christ the mere shadows of blessings, which charm the eye, yet cheat the soul; but real, substantial favors from God who cannot lie. Christ has come to bring us grace and truth; that is to say, it is not the kind of truth which censures, condemns, and punishes; it is gracious truth, truth steeped in love, truth saturated with mercy. The truth which Jesus brings to His people comes from the mercy-seat. There is grace to God’s people in everything that falls from the lips of Jesus Christ. His lips are like lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. Myrrh in itself is bitter, but such is the grace of our Lord Jesus that His lips impart sweetness to it. See how grace and truth thus blend, and qualify each other. The grace is all true, and the truth is all gracious. This is a wondrous compound made according to the art of the Divine Apothecary; where else is grace so true, or truth so gracious? Furthermore, grace and truth are blessedly balanced in Christ. He is full of grace; but, then, He has not neglected that other quality which is somewhat sterner, namely, that of truth. I have known many people in this world who have been very loving and affectionate, but then they have not been faithful; on the other hand, I have known men who were sternly honest and truthful, but they have not been gentle and kind; but, in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no defect either way. He is full of grace which doth invite the publican and the sinner to Himself; but He is full of truth which doth repel the hypocrite and Pharisee. He does not hide from man a truth however terrible it may be, but He plainly declares the wrath of God against all unrighteousness. But when He has spoken terrible truth, He has uttered it in such a gracious and tender manner, with so many tears of compassion for the ignorant and those that are out of the way, that you are as much won by His grace as you are convinced by His truth. Our Lord’s ministry is not truth alone, nor grace alone; but it is a balanced, well-ordered system of grace and truth. The Lord Himself is both King of righteousness and King of peace. He does not even save unjustly, nor does He proclaim truth unlovingly. Grace and truth are equally conspicuous in Him. But these qualities are also in our Lord to the full. He is “full of grace.” Who could be more so? In the person of Jesus Christ, the immeasurable grace of God is treasured up. God has done for us, by Christ Jesus, exceeding abundantly above all that we ask, or even think. It is not possible for our imagination to conceive of anyone more gracious than God in Christ Jesus; and there is an equal fullness of truth about our Lord. He Himself, as He comes to us as the revelation and manifestation of God, declares to us, not some truth, but all truth. All of God is in Christ; and all of God means all that is true, and all that is right, and all that is faithful, and all that is just, all that is according to righteousness and holiness. There is no truth hidden from us, that might have alarmed us, nor anything that might have shaken our confidence in Christ; nor, on the other hand, is any truth kept back which might have increased our steadfastness. He said to His disciples, concerning the glories of His Father’s house above, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Ask not, with Pilate, “What is truth?” but behold it in God’s dear Son. All truth and all grace dwell in Christ in all their fullness beyond conception, and the two lie in each other’s bosoms for ever, to bless us with boundless, endless joy and glory. Our Lord Jesus Christ is also full of grace and truth in this sense, that He truthfully deals with matters of fact relating to our salvation. I know the notion of the world is that the salvation of Christ is a pretty dream, a fine piece of sentiment; but there is nothing dreamy about it: it is no fiction; it is fact upon fact. The Lord Jesus Christ does not gloss over or conceal the condition of man in order to secure his salvation. He finds man condemned, and condemned in the very worst sense, condemned for a capital offence; and as man’s Substitute, He endures the capital penalty, and dies in the sinner’s stead. The Lord Jesus views the sinner as depraved, yea, as dead in trespasses and sins, and He quickens him by His own resurrection life. He does not wink at the result of the Fall, and at the guilt of actual sin; but He comes to the dead sinner, and gives him life; He touches the diseased heart, and heals it. To me, the Gospel is a wonderful embodiment of omnipotent wisdom and truth. If the Gospel had said to men, “The law of God is certainly righteous, but it is too stern, too exacting, and therefore God will wink at many sins, and make provision for salvation by omitting to punish much of human guilt,” we should always have been in jeopardy. If God could be unjust to save us, He could also be changeable, and cast us away. If there was anything rotten in the God-made structure of our salvation, we should fear that it would fail us at last. But the building is secure, and the foundation is sure, for the Lord has excavated down to the solid rock. He has taken away all sentiment and sham, and His salvation is real and substantial throughout. It is a glorious salvation of grace and truth, in which God takes the sinner as he is, and deals with him as he is; yea, and deals with the sinner as God is, on the principles of true righteousness; and yet saves him, because the Lord deals with him in the way of grace, and that grace encourages a great many hopes, and those hopes are all realized, for they are based upon God’s truth. Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). Christ’s Incarnation: The foundation of Christianity (pp. 126–130). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. (Public Domain) Grace - Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer Grace by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer Author's Preface THROUGH false emphasis by many religious leaders, Christianity has become in the estimation of a large part of the public no more than an ethical system. The revealed fact, however, is that the supreme feature of the Christian faith is that supernatural, saving, transforming work of God, which is made possible through the infinite sacrifice of Christ and which, in sovereign grace, is freely bestowed on all who believe. God has given instruction to those who are saved, it is true, as to the manner of life which is consistent with their new heavenly calling and standing in Christ; but in its spiritual blindness, the world, led by its blind leaders, sees in Christianity only the rule of life which is secondary. The blindness of the world at this point, with the consequent neglect of all that is vital in the Christian faith, is both anticipated and explained in the Word of God. The two foundation truths which determine all spiritual perception are that, by divine arrangement, (1) the Spirit is given only to those who are saved, and (2) spiritual understanding is made to depend exclusively on the presence of the Spirit of God in the heart. The precise body of truth which may be understood only through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit is described as, “things” related to the Father, “things” related to the Son, “things” related to the Spirit, “things” to come, and “the kingdom of God”. We read: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually [by the Spirit] discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him” (John 14:17). “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ … should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3, 4). “The world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). “He that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Cor. 2:15). “Now we have received … the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13–15). “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:27). “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9, 10). “Through faith we understand” (Heb. 11:3). Spiritual understanding is not, therefore, dependent upon human sagacity or learning; it depends only on the teaching of the indwelling Spirit. Possessing this Biblical testimony, misunderstanding at this point is without excuse. Likewise, the terms upon which men may now be saved and thus receive the Spirit are as clearly defined in the Scripture. Salvation is by grace through faith. It is the result of the transforming work of God for man, and not the result of the work of man for God. It is that which God does for the one who trusts the Saviourhood of Christ. By that trust, Christ is personally received as the divine Redeemer who shed His blood as a sufficient ransom for the guilt and penalty of sin, as the One who reconciles by having taken away the sin of the world, and as the divine Propitiation who, as Substitute, met every indictment brought against the sinner under the holy government of God. Since the Spirit is given only to those who are saved through faith in Christ, they alone are able to receive the particular body of truth which the Spirit teaches. Neglect of this fundamental, unalterable fact is the key-error of all modernism. It is assumed by the modernist that any person whose education has qualified him to be an authority in matters of human learning, regardless of the new birth and the indwelling Spirit, is also qualified, because of that learning, to speak with authority concerning the things of God. That the leaders of modernism are unregenerate men and therefore themselves spiritually blind is self-revealed by their attitude toward that truth which forms the only basis upon which, according to the Scriptures, a soul may be saved. When men avowedly disbelieve that the death of Christ was vicarious and substitutionary, they have rejected the only grounds upon which, according to the Word of God, the saving work of God righteously can be wrought for the sinner. Rejecting the saving truth of the Gospel, these men could not be saved upon any promise or provision of God. Though educated, religious, and sympathetic to the ethical ideals of the Bible, such men, being unregenerate, are of necessity totally blind to all that body of truth which is said to be imparted by the indwelling Spirit. Preaching and teaching under these limitations, Christianity is represented by these men as a system of ethics only. The first step in spiritual understanding is the knowledge of God as Father. “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him” (Mt. 11:27). “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Until God becomes real to the heart by the direct ministry of Christ as Saviour, all His ways and works are unreal. Not knowing God, the unregenerate mind is not satisfied with the explanation of the origin of things which declares that God directly created things as they are. To such a mind, it is actually easier to believe in a supposed natural development from nothing to something, and to hide all attending problems resulting from this theory behind the mists of a measureless past. If God is not real, there could be no inerrant Book; the Bible must be fallible as man; nor could God be manifest in the flesh; the Son of God must be of illegitimate birth, and though the greatest of all teachers, to them, He is really no more divine than ordinary mortals. These blind guides are forced to give some explanation to the meaning of the death of Christ. They therefore contend that He died as an heroic martyr, a loyal patriot, as a wonderful moral example of fortitude, or to show the wickedness of sin. They utterly reject the only reason given in the Word of God for the death of Christ—He died that others might not die. They brand this saving truth as “immoral,” and “unworthy of the goodness of God.” They understand little of the resurrection of Christ, His present ministry in heaven, and nothing of the revelation that He is coming again. To these religious leaders, there is no supernatural; for God is not real. There could be no immediate salvation through the Spirit. The salvation in which they believe is assumed to be the result of a self-created character, and the life to be lived is represented only as an heroic struggle of the flesh. If unregenerate men could understand anything better than this, the Word of God would be proven untrue. It is equally true, that, those who are spiritually blind are unconscious of their blindness until they are saved by the grace and power of God through Christ. Coming thus into the light, they testify, as all who have ever been saved have testified: “Whereas I was blind, now I see.” They, like all the unsaved, could be aware of their blindness if they would receive the testimony of God concerning their own limitations; but this is precisely what they will not do. Therefore, a notable neglect of the most vital truths of Scripture and the denial of the essential glories of divine grace is to be expected from these religious leaders who reject the only grounds of salvation through the substitionary death of Christ. Modernists content themselves with borrowing some ideals from the Bible while reserving the right to reject whatever is not desired. Those portions which are acceptable to the unregenerate mind are received and taught as being authorative on the basis of the fact that these ideals are in the Bible. Here, indeed, is strange inconsistency on the part of men who pride themselves on their scientific reasonings. The unsaved preacher or teacher, being able to comprehend only the ethical teachings of the Scriptures, is a living proof of the truthfulness of the divine Testimony. He cannot see the kingdom of God. He sees nothing of the glories of divine grace—the things of the Father, the things of Christ, the things of the Spirit, and things to come. He blindly ignores every dispensational division of the Word of God and is, therefore, free within himself to draw material from the kingdom teachings of Christ and from the law of Moses while constructing his world-improvement, sociological theories which he imposes on a Christ-rejecting world. Men of this character are sufficiently numerous in this day of apostasy to be responsible for the present-day impression that the sole objective of Christianity is the improvement of human conduct. Being blind to the real principles and purposes of saving grace, they teach that it makes little difference what is believed, it is the life that counts. Against this is the overwhelming testimony of the Word of God that every aspect of salvation and every blessing of divine grace in time and eternity is conditioned only on what is believed. Influenced by these misunderstandings concerning the Truth, few serious-minded young men will choose to enter the ministerial profession; for it would mean the assumption of the role of a mere moralist. Common modesty generally precludes such an assumption. On the other hand, when the essential message of Christianity is seen to be the measureless, transforming grace of God with all of its eternal glories in the new creation in Christ, it is a challenge to the deepest impulses of the heart, and offers a ministry for which one may well sacrifice all. Christians are ambassadors for Christ and are commissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature. This ministry does not consist in either the education or the moral improvement of lost men while they are on their way to hell; it is the proclamation of the mighty, redeeming, transforming grace of God which offers eternal life and eternal glory to all who will believe. If it shall please God to use this exposition in any measure to the unfolding of the riches of His grace, the labor expended in its preparation will not have been in vain. This very inadequate treatment concerning the grace of God is committed to Him that He may in some way use its message to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER. March, 1922. (Public Domain) Chafer, L. S. (1922). Grace (pp. vii–xiv). Philadelphia, PA: Sunday School Times Company. Romans 5:15 - Grace Abounds to Many Hath abounded unto many - That is, Christ Jesus died for every man; salvation is free for all; saving grace is tendered to every soul; and a measure of the Divine light is actually communicated to every heart, John 1:9. And, as the grace is offered, so it may be received; and hence the apostle says, Romans 5:17: They which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by Christ Jesus: and by receiving is undoubtedly meant not only the act of receiving, but retaining and improving the grace which they receive; and, as all may receive, so All may improve and retain the grace they do receive; and, consequently, All may be eternally saved. But of multitudes Christ still may say, They Will not come unto me, that they might have life. (Dr. Adam Clarke) But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (NASB) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (KJV) But there is a great difference between Adam's sin and God's gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of forgiveness to many through this other Man, Jesus Christ. (NLT) But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many! (NET) The sin of Adam led to condemnation. The righteousness of Christ leads to Grace bestowed upon all who believe. There are a great many contrasts between these two expressed. In 1 Corinthians 15 Adam is a "figure of him that was to come" and Christ is the "last Adam" and "second man." Adam is an earthly vessel and Christ is the Lord from heaven. Adam brings to us all guilt, condemnation and death. Whereas Christ brings to all righteousness, justification and life. One single act of commission brought death to all mankind, while Grace covers a whole world full of debt and countless acts of sin! The One who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9 NLT) For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and His gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one Man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17 NLT) We must observe here that from the end of Verse 12 to that of 17 (Romans 5:12-17) is a parenthesis: only the idea is developed, as in similar cases. In the parenthesis the apostle, after having presented Adam as the figure of Him who was to come — of Christ, argues that the character of the gift cannot be inferior to that of the evil. If the sin of the one first man was not confined in its effects to him who committed it, but extended to all those who as a race were connected with him, with much greater reason shall the grace which is by one, Christ Jesus, not end in Him, but embrace the many under Him also. And with regard to the thing, as well as to the person — and here the law is in view — one single offence brought in death, but grace remits a multitude of offences. Thus it could suffice for that which the law had made necessary. And, as to the effect, death has reigned; but by grace, not only shall life reign, but we shall reign in life by One according to the abundance of grace — by Jesus Christ. (Dr. John Darby) By Grace Ye Are Saved By Grace Ye Are Saved by Charles Haddon Spurgeon It is by the grace of God that ungodly men are preserved from instant death. The sharp axe of justice would soon fell the barren tree if the interceding voice of Jesus did not cry, “Spare him yet a little.” Many sinners, when converted to God, have gratefully acknowledged that it was of the Lord’s mercy that they were not consumed. John Bunyan had three memorable escapes before his conversion, and mentions them in his “Grace Abounding” as illustrious instances of long-suffering mercy. Occasionally such deliverances are made the means of affecting the heart with tender emotions of love to God, and grief for having offended him. Should it not be so? Ought we not to account that the longsuffering of God is salvation? (2 Peter 3:15.) An officer during a battle was struck by a nearly spent ball near his waistcoat pocket, but he remained uninjured, for a piece of silver stopped the progress of the deadly missile. The coin was marked at the words Dei Gratia (by the grace of God). This providential circumstance deeply impressed his mind, and led him to read a tract which a godly sister had given him when leaving home. God blessed the reading of the tract, and he became, through the rich grace of God, a believer in the Lord Jesus. Reader, are you unsaved? Have you experienced any noteworthy deliverances? Then adore and admire the free grace of God, and pray that it may lead you to repentance! Are you enquiring for the way of life? Remember the words Dei Gratia, and never forget that by grace we are saved. Grace always presupposes unworthiness in its object. The province of grace ceases where merit begins: what a cheering word is this to those of you who have no worth, no merit, no goodness whatever! Crimes are forgiven, and follies are cured by our Redeemer out of mere free favor. The word grace has the same meaning as our common term gratis: Wickliffe’s prayer was, “Lord save me gratis.” No works can purchase or procure salvation, but the heavenly Father giveth freely, and upbraideth not. Grace comes to us through faith in Jesus. Whosoever believeth on Him is not condemned. O, sinner, may God give thee grace to look to Jesus and live. Look now, for today is the accepted time! Romans 5:20 - Super-abounding Grace G3922 παρεισε?ρχομαι pareiserchomai Thayer Definition: 1) to come in secretly or by stealth, or creep or steal in 2) to enter in addition, come in besides Rom 5:20 The law came in between - The offence and the free gift. That the offence might abound - That is, the consequence (not the design) of the law's coming in was, not the taking away of sin, but the increase of it. Yet where sin abounded, grace did much more abound - Not only in the remission of that sin which Adam brought on us, but of all our own; not only in remission of sins, but infusion of holiness; not only in deliverance from death, but admission to everlasting life, a far more noble and excellent life than that which we lost by Adam's fall. (John Wesley) The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (NASB) Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (KJV) God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful grace became more abundant. (NLT) Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, (NET) Gal 2:4 Even that question came up only because of some so-called Christians there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. New Living Translation The law, (Mosaic Law) with all of its rites and ceremonies was considered confined to the Jewish people till the Messiah would appear. However, it should be considered the moral law, the law of our conscience and of life that has been imprinted upon our hearts so that our true depraved nature might become apparent. The law was not new but rather "came alongside" something that was already in existence—the law written upon our heats. So it can be said that wherever the Gospel may go, the law goes as well that we may be led to that place where we find the disparity of our condition—the pool of blood from the fatal wound inflicted by our sinful selves from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Then may we see the Gospel in its true light—able to super-lift us from death to live, from piteous estate to Glory. So where the law goes there is sin and where sin is, Grace is available to all who would believe! That is why Christ's Grace is so Amazing! By Christ and his righteousness, we have more and greater privileges than we lost by the offence of Adam. The moral law showed that many thoughts, tempers, words, and actions, were sinful, thus transgressions were multiplied. Not making sin to abound the more, but discovering the sinfulness of it, even as the letting in a clearer light into a room, discovers the dust and filth which were there before, but were not seen. The sin of Adam, and the effect of corruption in us, are the abounding of that offence which appeared on the entrance of the law. And the terrors of the law make gospel comforts the more sweet. Thus God the Holy Spirit has, by the blessed apostle, delivered to us a most important truth, full of consolation, suited to our need as sinners. Whatever one may have above another, every man is a sinner against God, stands condemned by the law, and needs pardon. A righteousness that is to justify cannot be made up of a mixture of sin and holiness. There can be no title to an eternal reward without a pure and spotless righteousness: let us look for it, even to the righteousness of Christ. (Matthew Henry) Gal 3:19 Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. New Living Translation Rom 7:7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, "You must not covet." New Living Translation In the Hay Field In the Hay Field "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle."—Psalm 104:14. AT the appointed season all the world is busy with ingathering the grass crop, and you can scarcely ride a mile in the country without scenting the delicious fragrance of the new-mown hay, and hearing the sharpening of the mower’s scythe. There is a gospel in the hay-field, and that gospel we intend to bring out as we may be enabled by the Holy Spirit. Our text conducts us at once to the spot, and we shall therefore need no preface. "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle"—three things we shall notice; first, that grass is in itself instructive; secondly, that grass is far more so when God is seen in it; and thirdly, that by the growth of grass for the cattle, the ways of grace may be illustrated. I. First, then, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle." Here we have something which is in itself instructive. Scarcely any emblem, with the exception of water and light, is more frequently used by inspiration than the grass of the field. In the first place, the grass may be instructively looked upon as the symbol of our mortality. "All flesh is grass." The whole history of man may be seen in the meadow. He springs up green and tender, subject to the frosts of infancy, which imperil his young life; he grows, he comes to maturity, he puts on beauty even as the grass is adorned with flowers; but after a while his strength departs and his beauty is wrinkled, even as the grass withers and is followed by a fresh generation, which withers in its turn. Like ourselves, the grass ripens but to decay. The sons of men come to maturity in due time, and then decline and wither as the green herb. Some of the grass is not left to come to ripeness at all, but the mower’s scythe removes it, even as swift-footed death overtakes the careless children of Adam. "In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled." "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." This is very humbling; and we need frequently to be reminded of it, or we dream of immortality beneath the stars. We ought never to tread upon the grass without remembering that whereas the green sod covers our graves, it also reminds us of them, and preaches by every blade a sermon to us concerning our mortality, of which the text is, "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field." In the second place, grass is frequently used in Scripture as an emblem of the wicked. David tells us from his own experience that the righteous man is apt to grow envious of the wicked when he sees the prosperity of the ungodly. We have seen them spreading themselves like green bay trees, and apparently fixed and rooted in their places; and when we have smarted under our own troubles, and felt that all the day long we were scourged, and chastened every morning, we have been apt to say, "How can this be consistent with the righteous government of God?" We are reminded by the Psalmist that in a short time we shall pass by the place of the wicked, and lo, he shall not be; we shall diligently consider his place, and lo, it shall not be; for he is soon cut down as the grass, and withereth as the green herb. The grass withereth, the flower thereof fadeth away, and even so shall pass away for ever the glory of those who build upon the estate of time, and dig for lasting comfort in the mines of earth. As the Eastern husbandman gathers up the green herb, and, despite its former beauty, casts it into the furnace, such must be your lot, O vainglorious sinner! Thus will the judge command his angels, "Bind them in bundles to burn." Where now your merriment? Where now your confidence? Where now your pride and your pomp? Where now your boastings and your loud-mouthed blasphemies? They are silent for ever; for, as thorns crackle under a pot, but are speedily consumed, and leave nothing except a handful of ashes, so shall it be with the wicked as to this life; the fire of God’s wrath shall devour them. It is more pleasing to recollect that the grass is used in Scripture as a picture of the elect of God. The wicked are comparable to the dragons of the wilderness, but God’s own people shall spring up in their place, for it is written, "In the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes." The elect are compared to grass, because of their number as they shall be in the latter days, and because of the rapidity of their growth. You remember the passage, "There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." O that the long expected day might soon come, when God’s people shall no longer be like a lone tuft of grass, but when they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses." Grass and willows are two of the fastest growing things we know of: so shall a nation be born in a day, so shall crowds be converted at once; for when the Spirit of God shall be mightily at work in the midst of the church, men shall fly unto Christ as doves fly to their dovecotes, so that the astonished church shall exclaim, "These, where had they been?" O that we might live to see the age of gold, the time which prophets have foretold, when the company of God’s people shall be innumerable as the blades of grass in the meadows, and grace and truth shall flourish. How like the grass are God’s people for this reason, that they are absolutely dependent upon the influences of heaven! Our fields are parched if vernal showers and gentle dews are withheld, and what are our souls without the gracious visitations of the Spirit? Sometimes through severe trials our wounded hearts are like the mown grass, and then we have the promise, "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth." Our sharp troubles have taken away our beauty, and lo, the Lord visits us, and we revive again. Thank God for that old saying, which is a gracious doctrine as well as a true proverb, "Each blade of grass has its own drop of dew." God is pleased to give his own peculiar mercies to each one of his own servants. "Thy blessing is upon thy people." Once again, grass is comparable to the food wherewith the Lord supplies the necessities of his chosen ones. Take the twenty-third Psalm, and you have the metaphor worked out in the sweetest form of pastoral song: "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." Just as the sheep has nourishment according to its nature, and this nourishment is abundantly found for it by its shepherd, so that it not only feeds, but then lies down in the midst of the fodder, satiated with plenty, and perfectly content and at ease; even so are the people of God when Jesus Christ leads them into the pastures of the covenant, and opens up to them the precious truths upon which their souls shall be fed. Beloved, have we not proved that promise true, "In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined"? My soul has sometimes fed upon Christ till I have felt as if I could receive no more, and then I have laid me down in the bounty of my God to take my rest, satisfied with favour, and full of the goodness of the Lord. Thus, you see, the grass itself is not without instruction for those who will incline their ear. II. In the second place, God is seen in the growing of the grass. He is seen first as a worker, "He causeth the grass to grow." He is seen secondly as a care-taker, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle." 1. First, as a worker, God is to be seen in every blade of grass, if we have but eyes to discern him. A blind world this, which always talks about "natural laws," and "the effects of natural causes," but forgets that laws cannot operate of themselves, and that natural causes, so called, are not causes at all unless the First Cause shall set them in motion. The old Romans used to say, God thundered; God rained. We say, it thunders; it rains. What "it"? All these expressions are subterfuges to escape from the thought of God. We commonly say, "How wonderful are the works of nature!" What is "nature"? Do you know what nature is? I remember a lecturer in the street, an infidel, speaking about nature, and he was asked by a Christian man standing by whether he would tell him what nature was, He never gave a reply. The production of grass is not the result of natural law apart from the actual work of God; mere law would be inoperative unless the great Master himself sent a thrill of power through the matter which is regulated by the law—unless, like the steam engine, which puts force into all the spinning-jennies and wheels of a cotton-mill, God himself were the motive power to make every wheel revolve. I find rest on the grass as on a royal couch, now that I know that my God is there at work for his creatures. Having asked you to see God as a worker, I want you to make use of this—therefore I bid you to see God in common things. He makes the grass to grow—grass is a common thing. You see it everywhere, yet God is in it. Dissect it and pull it to pieces: the attributes of God are illustrated in every single flower of the field, and in every green leaf. In like manner see God in your common matters, your daily afflictions, your common joys, your every-day mercies. Do not say, "I must see a miracle before I see God." In truth, everything teems with marvel. See God in the bread of your table and the water of your cup. It will be the happiest way of living if you can say in each providential circumstance, "My Father has done all this." See God also in little things. The little things of life are the greatest troubles. A man will hear that his house is burned down more quietly than he will see an ill-cooked joint of meat upon his table, when he reckoned upon its being done to a turn. It is the little stone in the shoe which makes the pilgrim limp. To see God in little things, to believe that there is as much the presence of God in a limb falling from the elm as in the avalanche which crushes a village; to believe that the guidance of every drop of spray, when the wave breaks on the rock, is as much under the hand of God as the steerage of the mightiest planet in its course: to see God in the little as well as in the great—all this is true wisdom. Think, too, of God working among solitary things; for grass does not merely grow where men take care of it, but up there on the side of the lone Alp, where no traveller has ever passed. Where only the eye of the wild bird has beheld their lonely verdure, moss and grass display their beauty; for God’s works are fair to other eyes than those of mortals. And you, solitary child of God, dwelling unknown and obscure, in a remote hamlet; you are not forgotten by the love of heaven. He maketh the grass to grow all alone, and shall he not make you flourish despite your loneliness? He can bring forth your graces and educate you for the skies in solitude and neglect. The grass, you know, is a thing we tread upon, nobody thinks of its being crushed by the foot, and yet God makes it grow. Perhaps you are oppressed and down-trodden, but let not this depress your spirit, for God executeth righteousness for all those that are oppressed: he maketh the grass to grow, and he can make your heart to flourish under all the oppressions and afflictions of life, so that you shall still be happy and holy though all the world marches over you; still living in the immortal life which God himself bestows upon you though hell itself set its heel upon you. Poor and needy one, unknown, unobserved, oppressed and down-trodden, God makes the grass to grow, and he will take care of you. 2. But I said we should see in the text God also as a great caretaker. "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle." "Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes?" "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn," shows that God has a care for the beasts of the field; but it shows much more than that, namely, that he would have those who work for him feed as they work. God cares for the beasts, and makes grass to grow for them. Then, my soul, though sometimes thou hast said with David, "So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee," yet God cares for thee. "He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry"—there you have an instance of his care for birds, and here we have his care for beasts; and though you, my hearer, may seem to yourself to be as black and defiled as a raven, and as far from anything spiritually good as the beasts, yet take comfort from this text; he gives grass to the cattle, and he will give grace to you, though you think yourself to be as a beast before him. Observe, he cares for these beasts who are helpless as to caring for themselves. The cattle could not plant the grass, nor cause it to grow. Though they can do nothing in the matter, yet he does it all for them; he causeth the grass to grow. You who are as helpless as cattle to help yourselves, who can only stand and moan out your misery, but know not what to do, God can prevent you in his lovingkindness, and favour you in his tenderness. Let the bleatings of your prayer go up to heaven, let the moanings of your desires go up to him, and help shall come to you though you cannot help yourselves. Beasts are dumb, speechless things, yet God makes the grass grow for them. Will he hear those that cannot speak, and will he not hear those who can? Since our God views with kind consideration the cattle in the field, he will surely have compassion upon his own sons and daughters when they desire to seek his face. There is this also to be said, God not only cares for cattle, but the food which he provides for them is fit food—he causeth grass to grow for the cattle, just the sort of food which ruminants require. Even thus the Lord God provides fit sustenance for his people. Depend upon him by faith and wait upon him in prayer, and you shall have food convenient for you. You shall find in God’s mercy just that which your nature demands, suitable supplies for peculiar wants. This "convenient" food the Lord takes care to reserve for the cattle, for no one eats the cattle’s food but the cattle. There is grass for them, and nobody else cares for it, and thus it is kept for them; even so God has a special food for his own people; "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." Though the grass be free to all who choose to eat it, yet no creature careth for it except the cattle for whom it is prepared; and though the grace of God be free to all men, yet no man careth for it except the elect of God, for whom he prepared it, and whom he prepares to receive it. There is as much reserve of the grass for the cattle as if there were walls around it; and so, though the grace of God be free, and there be no bound set about it, yet it is as much reserved as if it were restricted. God is seen in the grass as the worker and the caretaker: then let us see his hand in providence at all times. Let us see it, not only when we have abundance, but even when we have scant supplies; for the grass is preparing for the cattle even in the depth of winter. And you, ye sons of sorrow, in your trials and troubles, are still cared for by God; he will accomplish his own divinely gracious purposes in you: only be still and see the salvation of God. Every winter’s night has a direct connection with the joyous days of mowing and reaping, and each time of grief is linked to future joy. III. Our third head is most interesting. God’s working in the grass for the cattle gives us illustrations concerning grace. I will soliloquize, and say to myself as I read the text, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle. In this I perceive a satisfying provision for that form of creature. I am also a creature, but I am a nobler creature than the cattle. I cannot imagine for a moment that God will provide all that the cattle need and not provide for me. But naturally I feel uneasy: I cannot find in this world what I want—if I were to win all its riches I should still be discontented; and when I have all that heart could wish of time’s treasures, yet still my heart feels as if it were empty. There must be somewhere or other something that will satisfy me as a man with an immortal soul. God altogether satisfies the ox; he must therefore have something or other that would altogether satisfy me if I could get it. There is the grass, the cattle get it, and when they have eaten their share, they lie down and seem perfectly contented; now, all I have ever found on earth has never satisfied me so that I could lie down and be satisfied; there must, then, be something somewhere that would content me if I could get at it." Is not this good reasoning? I ask both the Christian and the unbeliever to go with me so far; but then let us proceed another step:—The cattle do get what they want—not only is the grass provided, but they get it. Why should not I obtain what I want? I find my soul hungering and thirsting after something more than I can see with my eyes or hear with my ears: there must be something to satisfy my soul, why should I not find it? The cattle pasture upon that which satisfies them: why should not I obtain satisfaction too? Then I begin to pray, "O Lord, satisfy my mouth with good things, and renew my youth." While I am praying I also meditate and think,—God has provided for cattle that which is consonant to their nature: they are nothing but flesh, and flesh is grass, there is therefore grass for their flesh. I also am flesh, but I am something else besides: I am spirit, and to satisfy me I need spiritual meat. Where is it? When I turn to God’s word, I find there that though the grass withereth, the word of the Lord endureth for ever; and the word which Jesus speaks unto us is spirit and life. "Oh! then," I say, "here is spiritual food for my spiritual nature, I will rejoice therein. O may God help me to know what that spiritual meat is, and enable me to lay hold upon it, for I perceive that though God provides the grass for the cattle, the cattle must eat it themselves. They are not fed if they refuse to eat. I must imitate the cattle, and receive that which God provides for me? What do I find provided in Scripture? I am told that the Lord Jesus came into this world to suffer, and bleed, and die instead of me, and that if I trust in him I shall be saved; and, being saved, the thoughts of his love will give solace and joy to me and be my strength. What have I to do but to feed on these truths? I do not find the cattle bringing any preparation to the pasture except hunger, but they enter it and partake of their portion. Even so must I by an act of faith live upon Jesus. Lord, give me grace to feed upon Christ; make me hungry and thirsty after him; give me the faith by which I may be a receiver of him, that so I may be satisfied with favour, and full of the goodness of the Lord. My text, though it looked small, grows as we meditate upon it. I want to introduce you to a few more illustrations of divine grace. Preventing grace may here be seen in a symbol. Grass grew before cattle were made. We find in the first chapter of Genesis that God provided the grass before he created the cattle. And what a mercy that covenant supplies for God’s people were prepared before they were born. God had given his Son Jesus Christ to be the Saviour of his chosen before Adam fell; long before sin came into the world the everlasting mercy of God foresaw the ruin of sin, and provided a refuge for every elect soul. What a thought it is for me, that, before I hunger, God has prepared the manna; before I thirst, God has caused the rock in the wilderness to send forth crystal streams to satisfy the thirst of my soul! See what sovereign grace can do! Before the cattle come to the pasture the grass has grown for them, and before I feel my need of divine mercy, that mercy is provided for me. Then I perceive an illustration of free grace, for when the ox comes into the field, he brings no money with him. So I, a poor needy sinner, having nothing, come and receive Christ without money and without price. The Lord maketh the grass to grow for the cattle, and so doth he provide grace for my needy soul, though I have now no money, no virtue, no excellence of my own. And why is it, my friends, why is it that God gives the cattle the grass? The reason is, because they belong to him. Here is a text to prove it. "The silver and the gold are mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." God provides grass for his own cattle, and grace is provided for God’s people? Of every herd of cattle in the world, God could say, "They are mine." Long before the grazier puts his brand on the bullock God has set his creating mark upon it; so, before the stamp of Adam’s fall was set upon our brow, the stamp of electing love was set there: "In thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." God also feeds cattle because he has entered into a covenant with them to do so. "What! a covenant with the cattle!" says somebody. Ay! truly so, for when God spake to his servant Noah, in that day when all the cattle came out of the ark, we find him saying, "I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you." Thus a covenant was made with the cattle, and that covenant was that seed-time and harvest should not fail; therefore the earth brings forth for them, and for them the Lord causeth the grass to grow. Does Jehovah keep his covenant with cattle, and will he not keep his covenant with his own beloved? Ah! it is because his chosen people are his covenanted ones in the person of the Lord Jesus, that he provides for them all things that they shall need in time and in eternity, and satisfies them out of the fulness of his everlasting love. Once, again, God feeds the cattle, and then the cattle praise him. We find David saying, in the hundred and forty-eighth Psalm, "Praise the Lord … ye beasts and all cattle." The Lord feeds his people to the end that their glory may sing praise unto him and not be silent. While other creatures give glory to God, let the redeemed of the Lord especially say so, whom he has redeemed out of the hand of the enemy. Nor even yet is our text exhausted. Turning one moment from the cattle, I want you to notice the grass. It is said of the grass, "He causeth the grass to grow": here is a doctrinal lesson, for if grass does not grow without God’s causing it to grow, how could grace arise in the human heart apart from divine operations? Surely grace is a much more wonderful product of divine wisdom than the grass can be! And if grass does not grow without a divine cause, depend upon it grace does not dwell in us without a divine implantation. If I have so much as one blade of grace growing within me, I must trace it all to God’s divine will, and render to him all the glory. Again, if God thinks it worth his while to make grass, and take care of it, much more will he think it to his honour to cause his grace to grow in our hearts. If the great invisible Spirit, whose thoughts are high and lofty, condescends to look after that humble thing which grows by the hedge, surely he will condescend to watch over his own nature, which he calls "the incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever!" Mungo Park, in the deserts of Africa, was much comforted when he took up a little piece of moss, and saw the wisdom and power of God in that lonely piece of verdant loveliness. So, when you see the fields ripe and ready for the mower, your hearts should leap for joy to see how God has produced the grass, caring for it all through the rigorous cold of winter, and the chill months of spring, until at last he sent the genial rain and sunshine, and brought the fields to their best condition. And so, my soul, though thou mayest endure many a frost of sorrow and a long winter of trial, yet the Lord will cause thee to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Spurgeon, C. H. (1882). Farm Sermons. New York: Passmore and Alabaster. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.