The Nature of Grace:
1. Grace is God acting freely, according to His own nature -- as Love; with no promises or obligations to fulfill; and acting of course, righteously -- in view of the cross.
2. Grace, therefore, is uncaused in the recipient: its cause lies wholly in the GIVER, in GOD.
3. Grace, also is sovereign. Not having debts to pay, or fulfilled conditions on man's part to wait for, it can act toward whom, and how, it pleases. It can, and does, often, place the worst deservers in the highest favors.
4. Grace cannot act where there is either desert or ability: Grace does not help -- it is absolute, it does all.
5. There being no cause in the creature why Grace should be shown, the creature must be brought off from trying to give cause to God for His Grace.
6. The discovery by the creature that he is truly the object of Divine grace, works the utmost humility: for the receiver of grace is brought to know his own absolute unworthiness, and his complete inability to attain worthiness: yet he finds himself blessed -- on another principle, outside of himself!
7. Therefore, flesh has no place in the plan of Grace. This is the great reason why Grace is hated by the proud natural mind of man. But for this very reason, the true believer rejoices! For he knows that "in him, that is, in his flesh, is no good thing"; and yet he finds God glad to bless him, just as he is!
The Place of Man under Grace:
1. He has been accepted in Christ, who is his standing!
2. He is not "on probation."
3. As to his life past, it does not exist before God: he died at the Cross, and Christ is his life.
4. Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: for God knew all the human exigencies (needs) beforehand: His action was independent of them, not dependent upon them.
5. The failure of devotion does not cause the withdrawal of bestowed grace (as it would under law). For example: the man in I Cor. 5.1-5; and also those in 11.30-32, who did not "judge" themselves, and so were "judged by the Lord, -- that they might not be condemned with the world"!
The Proper Attitude of Man under Grace:
1. To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
2. To refuse to make "resolutions" and "vows"; for that, is to trust in the flesh.
3. To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more lack of worth.
4. To testify of God's goodness, at all times.
5. To be certain of God's future favor; yet to be ever more tender in conscience toward Him.
6. To rely on God's chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.
7. A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burden regarding himself; but many about others.
Things Which Gracious Souls Discover:
1. To "hope to be better" is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
2. To be disappointed with yourself, is to have believed in yourself.
3. To be discouraged is unbelief, -- as to God's purpose and plan of blessing for you.
4. To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves.
5. The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.
6. Real devotion to God arises, not from man's will to show it; but from the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were yet unworthy and undevoted.
7. To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God's order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man's blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does not always do so, -- in proper measure.
Studies in Deuteronomy
by William R. Newell
Instead of blessing the people altogether on the ground of promise, that is altogether in view of Christ's coming work, He says "If you obey My law, I will bless you." Obedience first, then blessing, is the order under the law. There is nothing for the people to fall back on, except their own obedience now. They may indeed remember that they are God's chosen people, according to His covenant with the fathers: but the law has come in since those days, and they are under it. So Moses insists, in Deuteronomy, on their obedience as the condition of everything, as they are about to enter their inheritance.
Now the position of the Christian is entirely different. It is of absolute importance that we understand this. Thousands upon thousands of Christians today are in bondage because they do not see the essential difference between our position and that of Israel under the law. Now, Israel depended upon their own obedience to get their blessings in the land. Christians get their blessings because Christ obeyed in their stead. This gives them rest of heart, so that they have leisure to love God for His own sake, and learn to delight in His will.
But there are hardly any Christians who dare believe this. That is, they cannot apprehend such grace as this. They think, of course, that their blessings depend upon their faithfulness, their earnestness, their consecration, etc. But, this is not to be under grace (where God says we are Rom. 4:14) but under law; that is, under responsibility to do, in order to have, which is the order of the law, not that of grace.
Grace says, "You have been blessed already, in Christ Jesus, with all spiritual blessings." Eph. 1:3 The only obedience that pleases God now, is the obedience of FAITH, which enters boldly in, and appropriates these things that Christ's obedience unto death has secured for us.
Now I know someone will read these words who will say: ''Yes 'but we must do our part', ere we can claim or enjoy these spiritual blessings." The which shows that such a person is at heart, a miserable legalist to this day believing neither that Christ is the end of the law, nor that His work has really made these heavenly things actually ours. This is the hellish insult that unbelief ever flings into the face of God, that His Word is not good for the exact face of it.
The primary reason Christians today are living such unhappy, such empty, such weak and fruitless lives, is not (I dare to say it), that they are "not consecrated," "not surrendered," "not self-denying," "not obedient," not this and that and the other that the thousand and one preachers of legal holiness are complaining -- not these at all: the trouble, the one great trouble, is, Christians do not believe that they are free from the law, in Christ Jesus; and that they already have the glorious blessings they are seeking after, and need only claim them, to enjoy them. People dare not believe that Christ has done all the obeying and fulfilling for them, and that "their part" is simply to enter in and enjoy the infinite spoils of Christ's victory.
Someone needs to die for this great truth in their own day, as Paul died for it once and all the martyrs since. God bring it back to the church, this glorious truth of grace! "By the obedience of the ONE, the many are made righteous," and are blessed for His sake alone. Rom 5 Eph 3.
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