The Exceeding Riches of His Grace: Selection and Adoption (continued)
A Pilgrimage of Grace
Now, I expect you know that Peter's letters are founded upon this one word: "Grace." And, I think it is worth our pausing here to note it, because grace is mentioned a number of times in his letters. However, it is a great pity that the translators have not given us the correct translation of this word "grace" in every case of Peter's letters. But Peter, as you also know, represents the Church as in its pilgrimage. Paul represents the Church as in the heavenlies, having arrived very largely there, because he is viewing it from above. But Peter is viewing it here, and he says, "I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims" (1 Peter 2:11). Pilgrims, that is Peter's standpoint. For him it is the pilgrimage of the Church. And the great word of the pilgrimage with the people of God is the word: "Grace."
Peter has so much to say about grace. When I referred to the unfortunate translation of this word, you will probably remember that he said, "If you take persecution, opposition, ill treatment joyfully, this is (and the translators have put the word) acceptable with God." But the real word there is "grace." Th word in the original is, "This is grace with God." The pilgrimage contains: persecution, opposition, misrepresentation, and what not. And if any man knew about that, Peter did. And if any man knew the meaning of of grace, it was that man who had denied his Lord three times, in such a way as to feel that he had sinned beyond the possibility of forgiveness. If ever you had done a thing like that, in a vehement, angry way, and declared that you did not know Jesus Christ after having been with Him for three years, in the closest contact, you would despair of yourself. No wonder Peter went out and wept bitterly. No wonder the Lord had to make a special mention of him by name when recalling the scattered disciples after His Cross. 'Go to My brethren, and say unto them, and to Peter' (Mark 16:7) - and to Peter, mentioning him by name.
Well, that is old ground and so familiar to us, but now we can understand why Peter's great word was "grace." Yes, grace is for the pilgrimage. And what Peter is saying so much about in his first letter is "the sufferings," the sufferings of this present time; and it is grace the way along, the whole journey calls for grace. However, and this will belong to a further consideration, "It is grace unto glory."
Well, I think it was worth reminding us of that word: "GRACE." But what grace begins - and we all know that it is through grace that we begin, the grace of God that brought us into salvation - grace is going to perfect the work; it is going to carry it right through and crown it at last. And I am quite sure that the top stone will be brought forth with shoutings of Grace, 'The grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ' (Zech. 4:7; 1 Peter 1:13).
Now when we talk about the riches of grace within the realm of the unsearchable, the inexhaustible, and, although we shall never be able to fathom these depths, I think we can still go a little bit deeper. I want to come to this first chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians. I am not going to make anything of this - it may be a coincidence and there may be really nothing in it - but you know that in Bible numbers, the number of grace is five. And here is this chapter, we have five of the exceeding riches of His grace. And when I say "exceeding", I am quite sure as we look at them you will say, "That is beyond me. I cannot comprehend that, that is too big." But, nevertheless, you know we are allowed to look at the big mountains, even if we cannot compass them or master them, and it sometimes does us good just to look at them. But, thank God, these are not just objective things that are presented to us here, we are in them, and so we will look at these five great, I think the greatest, "riches of His grace."
(continued with # 19 - ("Election": To Serve God In a Purpose)