In His Letters to the Corinthians (continued)
"The Grace of the Lord Jesus" (continued)
Now, you can break that up in this letter. "Christ Jesus, Who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). He is made unto us righteousness, sanctification, redemption. I am afraid that some Christians are afraid to make too much of their positional grace. They think that it will take something away from their Christian life if they make too much of that, because they put such a tremendous amount of emphasis upon the need for their sanctification, actually, as to condition; and they are so occupied introspectively with this matter of what they are n themselves and trying to deal with that, that they lose all the joy of their position in Christ through grace.
We need to keep the balance in this matter. The beginning of everything is that the grace of the Lord Jesus comes to us - even though we may be like the Corinthians - and sets us and looks upon us as in a place of sainthood, "sanctified in Christ Jesus". You cannot describe it. Grace goes beyond all our powers of describing, but there is the wonder of the grace of the Lord Jesus.The fact of the matter is that we really only discover what awful creatures we are after we are in Christ Jesus, and after we have been in Him a long time. I think the longer we are in Christ, the more awful we become in our own eyes. Therefore, if we are in Christ Jesus, what we are in ourselves does not signify. Our position does not rest upon whether we are actually, literally, truly perfect. The good tidings first of all has to do with our position in Christ.
Ah, but it does not stop there. This does not introduce any kind of shadow, or it should not. Thank God, it is good tidings beyond even that. The grace of our Lord Jesus can make the state different - can make our standing lead to a new state. That is the grace of the Lord Jesus. It can make our own actual state now correspond to our standing. Grace not only receives into the position of acceptance without merit: grace is a working power to make us correspond to the position into which we have been brought. Grace has many aspects. Grace is acceptance, but grace is power to operate. "My grace is sufficient for thee" (2 Corinthians 12:9). That is the mighty word of power in need. The grace of our Lord Jesus is indeed good news - good news for all Christians.
"The Love of God"
After "the grace of the Lord Jesus", "the love of God". See how God is moving to His end. Now the Second Letter to the Corinthians is as full of the love of God as the first is full of the grace of the Lord Jesus. It is a wonderful letter of the love of God, and of its mighty triumph, its mighty power. The love of God is God's present-day method of showing His power. If that will not do it, nothing will. What God is doing is this dispensation, He is doing by love. Let that be settled. Not by judgment, not by condemnation. The Lord Jesus said He did not come to condemn, He had come to save (John 12:47). Yes, it is the love of God which is the method of His power in this dispensation. The method will change, but this is the day of the love of God.
Now, Paul has already, toward the end of the first letter, given that classic definition and analysis of the love of God - 1 Corinthians thirteen. There is nothing to compare with it in all the Bible as an analysis of - not your love, not my love; we are not interested in that - but the love of God: "Love suffereth long and is kind, love envieth not, love seeketh not its own, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly", and so on. There is the love of God set forth. We shall find that we cannot stand up to it. No man can stand up to that fully. "Love never faileth" - never gives up, that is. Here is the quality of Divine love.
(continued with # 11)