BY VIRTUE of the grace glorious our place in the mind and affairs of God is among the celestials. There, above all the fleeting pageantry and tortuous circumstance of things terrestrial, God has assigned our sphere. In harmony with God's purpose of the ages, we constitute the great vanguard of His choice, the instruments of His will in an administration which truly and perfectly complete the Divine purpose.
How unlike the fevered, tangled aims of man, who would give place and power to Philistine virtue and strength. Truly, His thoughts are high, Who so magnificently displays the qualities of grace. God has flung forth favors which move us to wonder and praise. Again and again He would thrill our hearts by the stirring notes of love's "surprise symphony." He would have us listen to the music of His own making, that we might revel in the chords and phrases of the truest melody, the harmonies of His grace.
Occurring in the opening clauses of Paul's Ephesian letter, we have a beautiful quatrain of Divine grace. It forms a precious prelude to the full realization of God's purpose.
He chooses us in Him.
He designates us beforehand for the place of a son.
He lavishes on us the riches of His grace.
He makes known to us the secret of His will.
Such language nobly befits the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father glorious. Grace rides triumphantly, as each phrase opens with, and reveals the majesty of God, great and greatly to be praised.
Here we have the motif of the whole theme. He, us, Him. What an indissoluble union! Chosen, in Him. Chosen, ere such choice could be marred by shade of sin. Recipients of a favor unmoved by caprice, and undetermined by the things which so sway the human choice. A choice as perfect as it is absolute. Behind every case the wisdom of God, mysterious, it may be, but ever and always the associate of love. He chooses, and it is for us to acknowledge, appreciate, and adore. And in face of such choice, all voices are stilled. Human pride, wisdom, and endeavor are out-classed and eclipsed by the effulgence of grace. There is but room for bowed heart and knee in the presence of such absolute favor. We are graced in the Beloved, of Whom the Father could say, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I delight." What an outflow of grace, thus to choose, in spite of that sin which was to shadow the circle of creation for so long! Grace, first on the scene, and the victor at last. He chose, and there are, and will be, continual proofs of His choice. It is ever operative, and will be seen again and again, in ways to make us marvel at the manner of His love. Such love is timeless, even as it is measureless and unceasing. And so, as we pass to the harmonies flowing from such love and grace, we revel in the ever present tense of the words in which they are so finely phrased.
God's high design is here set forth, His sovereign right to select whom He will. We think of Jacob who did all he could to secure God's blessing, and stupidly deferred it. But "love needed a Jacob, even as power a Pharaoh." It is God's prerogative to choose and use men as He will. With God the end is always clearly in view, and the correlated links, as arranged by Him, serve His will to accomplish that end. And how high is the place of a son! To be designated as such is great honor, and rare privilege. We are thus graced in the Beloved, not only with a view to future glory, but that even now we should realize our place and position as sons. Side by side with expectation there should be realization of God as Father. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ should now be our God and Father in realized intimacy and spiritual understanding. In the earthly relationship, a son may not always bow to his father's will, but in the spiritual bond, which is yet more real, highest wisdom, peace, and happiness lie in acceding to our Father's will. The privilege of such a position as "the place of a son" entails responsibility in the call for a display of its power. In line with the will of God, there will always be things we must forego, as we patiently live up to our high place.
In other words, He gives as God. Freely, without reserve or stint, our God lavishes on us the wealth of such favor as only He can bestow. O, if we could always take full advantage of such a tide of blessing! Like the oncoming waves of the sea, it would fill every crevice and creek. Every part of our being would be laved with the healing streams. Yet we know that what is now but intermittent, because of frailty, or it may be, a thorn in the flesh, shall yet be a glorious, permanent joy. And, interwoven with the riches of His grace are the riches of His kindness, His forbearance and longsuffering, His wisdom, knowledge, and glory. All these rare attributes are associated with grace, and are exercised for our experience that we may know the vastness of divine wealth.
These riches, so splendidly unfolded by the dispenser Paul, are not only ours to luxuriate in, here and now, but are set for magnificent display in the on-coming eons. Then will there be an exhibition which cannot but have the richest of results. God's kindness will be seen in such a light as to elicit the full-voiced praise of happy witnesses. Emotions which now are fleeting, will then be an abiding expression.
The closing line of our quatrain is in fine sequence. It follows as a perfectly fitting thought, as being in accord with His delight. We all know the pleasure of imparting to a friend knowledge which brings him blessing. How infinitely higher, then, the revelation of the secret thought of that wonderful administration of His, which is to grace the universe in future eras.
Now it is man's day, hard, fast, and inexorable, but through it all there runs the golden thread of God's ordering towards His own great day. Unknown as yet by other worlds, the full significance of such a rare, glad secret, shall flash upon them, when they will know, through us, the resplendent triumph of God, in Christ. Of His wonderful way with our wayward planet, such spheres as lie beyond our ken, have yet to learn. In the words of a certain poet:
Of His earth-visiting feet
None knows the sweet, cherished, perilous,
The terrible, shamefast, frightened, whispered, sweet
Heart- shattering secret, of His way with us.
No planet knows that this
Our wayside planet, carrying land and wave,
Love and life multiplied, and pain and bliss,
Bears, as chief treasure, one forsaken grave.
Yet shall they know, and know indeed, that Christ arose in triumph from that "one forsaken grave." The note rings out day by day, "He is risen!" Through the operation of God's mighty strength, He rose to take His seat among the celestials, even at the right hand of God. And, there, where Christ sitteth, our aspirations have their center, and finally, their realization. For in such a sphere, among the celestials, our lot is cast.
Reflecting on the wealth of such divine favors, we may well thank the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thank Him again and again, as we seek to appreciate so vast an expression of love, which is ever and always in accord with His delight.