Rev. Kuiper is pastor of Southeast Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Three things abound in this present world; yea, four things abound. The sins of the ungodly. The wrath of God. The grace of God. And the good works of the righteous. The Hebrew and the Greek word both express abundance in quantity or excellence in quality. It is used in the declarative, comparative, and superlative degrees. Sometimes the word is translated abundance, abundant, or abundantly.
Just as before the flood “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5), so just before the end of the world “iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). The wicked trust “in the abundance of their riches” (Ps. 52:7), but “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). One of God’s purposes with the law was that where “the law entered the offense might abound” (Rom. 5:20). The man whose besetting sin is anger “stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgressions” (Prov. 29:22). Surely the abounding lawlessness that we see today in every area of society indicates to us that the end of the world is at hand.
That God’s anger, wrath, and sore displeasure abound is testified abundantly in the Scriptures. These terms are used hundreds of times in the Bible. More often, in fact, is the wrath of God mentioned than is the love of God! How strange that so little is heard concerning the wrath of God today! God’s wrath is not a blemish upon the Godhead, but it is one of His perfections. His wrath is an aspect of the love which God has for Himself. It is an aspect of His holiness which cannot countenance sin. It stands related to the perfect jealousy that God demonstrates toward all those that oppose Him, for “the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man” who walks in the imagination of his heart (Deut. 29:19, 20). The anger of the Lord is great (Jer. 21:5), it is hot (Ex. 22:24), it smokes (Ps. 74:1), it is fierce (I Sam. 28:18), and at His wrath “the earth trembles” (Jer. 10:10). The wrath of the Lord is everlasting (John 3:36). It is constant, for “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11). It runs in generations, for “the curse of the Lord is in their homes” (Prov. 3:33). Is there anything greater than the wrath of the Lord?
God’s grace is! Because our God is the God of all grace, this virtue abounds in quantity and excels in quantity! “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Those who turn unto the Lord discover that “he will abundantly pardon” (Is. 55:7). That God’s grace is greater than sin and death is shown in Romans 5:15: “For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” And: “They which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” And: “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:17, 20)! We are taught to pray to God, for He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). God works all things for our good, “that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (II Cor. 4:15). The grace of our Lord is “exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 1:14). God confirmed His promise to us with an oath because He was “willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of His counsel” (Heb. 6:17). With grace comes mercy; “according to his abundant mercy hath (He) begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Pet. 1:3). Always this grace is in Jesus Christ, always it is particular for the elect, always it produces fruit unto God.
“A faithful man abounds with blessings” (Prov. 28:20). Grace leads a man to “abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). He “abounds in consolation, even as the sufferings of Christ abound in him” (II Cor. 1:15). Though the Macedonians had great trials, “the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (II Cor. 8:2). The saints “abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us” (II Cor. 8:7). Yea, they abound in every good work (II Cor. 9:8).
Because the child of God knows that the works he performs are themselves the evidence and the fruit of divine grace — powerful, undeserved, saving — he abounds in thanksgiving (Col. 2:7). And in the world, where the foundations are being shaken, “he abounds in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as he knows that his labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58). God will use the labors of His people for much good in His kingdom, and when Jesus returns He will crown those labors with even greater grace.