And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
For, let us not overlook the fact that in the words from John’s gospel-narrative we have a personal confession concerning the Christ.
Out of His fullness have all we received!
This is not a mere dogmatic statement by a theologian. It is not even a mere objective testimony as to the fullness and glory of the Son of God. But it is an expression of experience, of the experience of faith with respect to the Christ as the ever flowing, ever abundant, ever satisfying fountain of grace.
John had born witness of Him. He spoke of Him as the one that, indeed, came after him, but was preferred before him, and was before Him. He confessed that he was not the Christ, and pointed away from Himself to the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, bearing record of Him that He is the Son of God.
And this testimony of John was amply corroborated by the experience of those that had sought Him and found Him, that had been implanted into Him by a living bond of faith. For to as many as received Him, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, to them He gave power to become the sons of God. And having spiritual contact and fellowship with Him, they learnt to know Him as the superabundant fountain of grace: “of His fullness have we all received, and grace for grace!”
Amazing source of spiritual abundance!
We all, apostles, their converts, the whole Church, the believers of every age!
Have received out of Him: He alone is the fullness from whom all receive, and are satisfied!
Even grace for grace: a never ending stream!
Grace for grace!
Grace: that is the glorious beauty, the blessed pleasantness, the sweet attractiveness, of God’s eternal and infinite goodness. For God is the implication of all infinite perfections. And as the only Good, He is supremely fair and beautiful and pleasant. He is such in Himself, apart from any relation to the creature, for all God’s perfections are eternal, and He is the I AM, also in His grace. And as the infinitely good God, He is beautiful; and as the Triune, He eternally beholds the beauty of His perfections, and is attracted to Himself.
Such is God’s grace absolutely, eternally, in God.
Grace: that is the attitude of sovereign favor the eternal God is pleased to assume with relation to the people of His choice, in His eternal counsel of election. For eternally He has them with Him, and before Him, not as they are in history, in their sin and corruption, but as He sovereignly conceived of them in His good pleasure, and that, too, in Christ, the firstborn of every creature, and the first begotten of the dead. As such He beholds no sin in Jacob, no iniquity in Israel. Nothing but beauty and perfection and glory He beholds in them. For whom He hath foreknown, them He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son; and them He also called, and justified, and glorified. He engraved them in both the palms of His hands. They are continually before Him. And always He is inclined toward them in eternal lovingkindness, and regards them in favor.
Such is God’s grace eternally, in His counsel, toward His people.
Grace: that is the revelation of this eternal good pleasure of favor and lovingkindness to the people of His love, as they come into the world as sinners, guilty and damnable, corrupt and defiled, children of wrath; and as they walk in darkness, and increase their guilt daily; as they lie in the midst of death, and there is no way out. For even to. them, who have forfeited every token of favor, and have made themselves worthy of eternal damnation, God reveals Himself as gracious, justifying the ungodly, forgiving their iniquities, adopting them unto His children, and making them worthy of eternal life and glory.
Such is God’s grace, revealed in time, as an attitude of unchangeable favor, to His people in their sin and death.
Grace: that is, too, that altogether wonderful, amazing, exceedingly mighty power of God, operating thru Christ, in His Spirit, whereby He changes the sinner from a cursing rebel into a praying child, from a blaspheming fool into a praising saint, calling Him out of darkness into His marvelous light, instilling into his deepest heart the new life of the risen Lord, cleansing and sanctifying him by His Spirit through the Word of God, preserving him in the midst of a world of darkness and corruption, and preparing him for the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, that never fadeth away.
Such is the grace of Him that quickeneth the dead, as a power, operating in the elect unto salvation.
By grace are ye saved! . . . .
Grace: that is, too, the implication of all spiritual riches and gifts and blessings, with which the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ fills us from above. For, indeed, grace is one; but it is amazingly rich in a diversity of blessings, of new life, of faith, of hope, of righteousness, of the forgiveness of sins, of the adoption unto children, of the love of God, of the peace that passeth all understanding, of patience, of strength to fight the battle, of comfort and consolation, of light and joy, of knowledge and wisdom, of the resurrection from, the dead and eternal glory. …
Such is the grace of Him, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
Grace: that is, finally, the effect and reflection of all these riches and favors of the God of our salvation in the sinner that is so favored. For by the power of God’s beautiful grace he also becomes good and beautiful, before God and men, and this spiritual, beauty is supremely expressed when, in humble adoration he prostrates himself before the Most High, and exclaims: “O, my God! Grace, thanks, be to Thee!”
Such is the grace of God perfected in us.
Grace for grace!
Or, according to the original: grace instead of grace.
The phrase is somewhat difficult to translate. Yet, as is so frequently the case with the wonderful language of Holy Writ, the general meaning is quite clear.
Grace instead of grace! That means that one gift of grace follows upon another, so that we are overwhelmed by its riches: grace upon grace. Hardly have we had time to receive and appreciate and give thanks for one blessing, when another is bestowed upon us!
Grace upon grace! That means, too, that the stream of grace is continuous. It never ends. It never ceases. Nor could we ever live or stand and persevere except for that constant stream of grace.
Grace upon grace! O, that surely means that it is always and ever grace. Never does one gift of grace put us in a position to merit the next. Grace is ever the last word.
Grace for grace! It signifies, finally, that the stream of grace is inexhaustible. Out of His fullness we all receive, receive constantly and abundantly, yet He is ever full!
We all received, and do receive, and shall receive to ages unending, grace for grace!
Amazing mystery of salvation!
Out of His fullness!
He, the Christ, is the fullness of our emptiness.
Full of grace and glory is He in Himself.
For He is the Son of God, God of God, light of light, the Word that was in the beginning with God, and that was God, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, the image of the invisible God, the express image of His substance, and the effulgence of His glory. In Him is light, and life, and glory, and eternal joy.
The inexhaustible fullness of divine grace is He.
But He is also the fountain of abundant grace for us.
For God ordained this Son, from before the foundation of the world, to be the revelation of all the fullness of grace: “For it pleased the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell.”. He, the eternal Son, was ordained to be the firstborn of every creature, and the firstborn of the dead, in order that in all things He might have the preeminence. He was ordained to be the head of His Church, all whom the Father gave Him, that He might be the captain of their salvation, and through Him, God might lead all His children to glory. He, the Son, Was ordained to be God’s own Mediator for His people, the strong arm of the Lord, that He might take their sins upon His mighty shoulders, represent them in the hour of judgment, blot out the guilt of their iniquities, and prepare for them garments of righteousness, clothed in which they might walk before the face of God, and dwell in His house forever. He was ordained, too, to be the living Head of His Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all, in order that, in Him, the wondrous stream of divine grace might break through unto us, and its fountain might be opened unto all the Father gave Him.
And in the fullness of grace He was revealed in the fullness of time.
For He, the glorious and eternal Son of God, became flesh, and dwelled among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. He came in the flesh and blood of the children, His brethren. He was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin. He, the Lord, was seen in the form of a servant, and came in the likeness of man. He united Himself with us, in an everlasting union, and became our Immanuel, God with us.
The Son in the form of a servant!
God in human flesh!
The eternal fullness in the form of our emptiness!
But thus, and only thus, could the eternal fullness become the fountain of grace upon grace for us. For in that form of a servant, standing at the head of all His own, He could and did bear the iniquity of our sins. And with the load of our transgressions upon Him, He took our place before the face of God, in the dark hour of wrath and judgment, and obediently descended into the depth of death and desolation. (He completely emptied Himself, that He might become our fullness. Down into hell He went, freely, obediently, from love of the Father and of His own, in order there, in the depth of hell to sprinkle His lifeblood upon God’s altar, and atone for all our transgressions, and to obtain from God the right to fill us forever with the fullness of His grace.
There, on Calvary, the divine fullness, the Son of God, in the flesh, emptied Himself!
There He labored and toiled, with bloody sweat upon His brow, in agony of soul and body, to break through the floods of our iniquity.
And He had the victory!
In Joseph’s garden, on the third day, the fountain of life and grace broke through the darkness of our death! For God raised Him from the dead, and gave Him testimony that He had finished the work, that He had blotted out the sins of all His brethren, that He merited the right to clothe them with garments of eternal righteousness, and to fill them with His blessings.
Light broke through the darkness!
Sin in the flesh was condemned forever!
Death was swallowed up of life!
And He descended up into the highest heavens, was clothed with all power in heaven and on earth, and received the promise of the Spirit, in order that by that Spirit and through His Word He might cause the fountain of His fullness to flow into our emptiness forever!
O, blessed Lord! Light that dispels our darkness, righteousness that overcomes our unrighteousness, fire of love that consumes our enmity, our resurrection and life!
Fullness of our emptiness!
Fountain of grace!
Out of His fullness. . . .
We have received, we all, even grace for grace!
And even this, that we received of him, is not of ourselves: it is all of Him.
In us there is no power of receptivity for Him. In us is the darkness and never will we turn to the light, unless His light first penetrates into our night. In us is the power of corruption, and never will we seek to be clothed with the garments of righteousness He prepared for us, unless He first break the shackles of iniquity that hold us in bondage. We lie in the midst of death, and before we can even drink from the fountain of life and grace which is He, the power of His resurrection must break the bonds of our death.
We received and do receive of Him even grace for grace.
O, it is true, there is in this reception of grace out of His fullness also activity on our part, the activity of faith, whereby we become deeply conscious of our own emptiness, of our darkness and death, of our sin and iniquity, of the hopelessness of our state; whereby we apprehend Him in the fullness of His light, and love, and righteousness, and complete redemption; whereby we long for (Him, to drink from the fountain of His grace, and to taste that the Lord is good; whereby we know Him, seek refuge in Him, cast ourselves upon Him, and appropriate Him and all the riches of salvation in Him.
But never is this act on our part first. Nor could it be.
Nor is it thus that His act, whereby He imparts of His fullness to us, and our act whereby we receive of His fullness, meet in cooperation to accomplish our salvation.
On the contrary, He is first, always first. He imparts of His fullness to us and receive. He gives us the faith, and we believe. He draws us, and we come.
He draws us to the Fountain, and we drink!
Grace for grace; always grace!
Thanks be to God!