An Overwhelming Appreciation of Grace
The second thing that came out of this shattering was an overwhelming appreciation of grace. The Lord Jesus, on one occasion which you will recall, enunciated a great spiritual truth and law, when referring to one who was pouring out devotion at His feet. He said: "Where much has been forgiven, there is much love. She loved much because she was forgiven much" (Luke 7:47).
Now Peter came into the meaning of that spiritual principle - or it came into Peter. What an appreciation of grace! Look at the first letter that goes by his name. In that quite brief document, which you can read through from beginning to end in ten or fifteen minutes, Peter speaks of grace no fewer than ten times, and in every case the context of that word is tremendous.
Here, for instance, he speaks of "the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10). Grace is really the theme of his letter. It governs everything - every department of the Christian life. Yes, Peter knew what he was talking about: he was speaking out of experience. It was this tremendous appreciation of grace that made him the servant that he became. But he had to be baptized into the agony of suffering, of self-discovery - of the discovery of his own unworthiness, weakness, failure. The waves of despair had to go over his head, in order to bring him to this place where grace was his theme, grace accounted for everything, grace became the great motive of his ministry.
A man cannot go through an experience of that kind, he cannot go through a spiritual history like that, he cannot go through such depths, without being caused to reflect deeply. It is not just our imagination, or reading something into the story, to say that, when Peter was recovered, restored, brought back into all the blessings of fellowship with his Lord, and given his commission, he must have thought something like this: 'Just imagine it - that such a one as I am, and have proved to be; such a one as I, who have done what I have done - could any man sink to deeper depths of shame, disgrace, dishonor? - that such a one as I should be called by the Lord at all, when He knew all about me beforehand! That day when He came along by the seashore, when I was engaged in my business, and He called me - that day He knew everything that there was to know about me! He did not have to spend three and a half years discovering it. He did not have to wait until that judgment hall; He knew it all at the beginning, and yet He called me!' Peter could indeed say with Paul: 'He called me by His grace' (Galatians 1:15). That is consolation, that is comfort, that is help; that makes service possible for anybody!
The Training of Grace
Anyone other than Jesus would probably have washed their hands of Peter and said. 'I shall never make anything of this man - I can do nothing with him: he is incorrigible.' The Holy Spirit has caused to be written in fiery letters, for all to see, all this blundering and blurting of Simon, all his rebuking of the Lord, correcting the Lord, telling the Lord, "Thou shalt never ..." All this - and then the Lord's infinite patience with that man. When John writes: "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1), there is an immense amount behind that statement in relation to this man alone, to say nothing of the rest of them. That is no small thing; it is wonderful. Think of all the training, and the going on - just going on. This was the training of grace: do you not think Peter remembered that? I am sure he thought back over those three and a half years, and how they culminated in his denial. 'Oh, what patience He showed with me! To think that I am here today at all, and having a place of honor in His service! What does it not say for His patience, His forebearance, His longsuffering, His love!'
(continued with # 30 - (The Endowments of Grace)