Rev. Miersma is pastor of the Loveland Protestant Reformed Church in Loveland, Colorado.
And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
What a beautiful confession of faith! Here is a personal confession of those who have experienced and tasted the marvelous grace of Christ. This is the confession of those who have sought Christ and have found Him, of those who have been implanted into Him by a living bond of faith. This is the confession of those who have received Him, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And having spiritual contact and fellowship with Him through faith, they learned to know Him as the super-abundant fountain of grace.
This is the confession of us all. It is the confession of the apostles, of the evangelists, and of all those to whom they preached the gospel and who received it. All have received Him. He is the fullness from whom all receive and are satisfied.
What a wonderful Christ we have! What an amazing source of spiritual abundance is in Him. Grace for grace: a never-ending stream of grace!
Grace is, first of all, a virtue of God. As such it is the glorious beauty, the blessed pleasantness, the sweet attractiveness of God’s eternal and infinite goodness. God is the sum of all infinite perfections. And as the only good, He is supremely fair, beautiful, and pleasant. He is such in Himself, apart from any relation to the creature. All God’s perfections are eternal, as He is the I AM also in His grace. As the triune God He eternally beholds the beauty of His perfections and is attracted to Himself.
Grace is also an attitude of divine favor. This He assumes eternally with relation to the people of His choice in His eternal counsel of election. Eternally God has His people with Him and before Him, not as they are in history, in their sin and corruption, but as He sovereignly conceives of them in His good pleasure. He beholds no sin in them, only beauty, perfection, and glory. Continually they are before Him, and always He is inclined toward them in eternal lovingkindness and He regards them in favor.
Furthermore, grace is the revelation of God’s eternal good pleasure of favor to the people of His love as they come into this world as sinners, guilty and damnable. By nature they are children of wrath, who walk in darkness and increase their guilt daily. Even to them that have forfeited every token of God’s favor and have made themselves worthy of eternal damnation God reveals Himself as gracious, justifying the ungodly, forgiving their iniquities, adopting them as His children, and making them worthy of eternal life and glory. All of this is in Jesus Christ, who on the accursed cross shed His lifeblood for His people and was raised again on the third day for their justification.
But we are not finished yet. Grace is also a mighty power of God operating through 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. By grace the child of God is called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, and instilled into his deepest heart is the new life of the risen Lord. God, by this same grace, cleanses and sanctifies him by His Spirit through the Word of God, preserving him in the midst of the world of darkness and corruption. In this way God prepares His children for the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that never fades away. Such is the grace of God that quickens the dead, as a power operating in His people unto salvation. By grace are ye saved!
This marvelous grace of God is the sum of all the spiritual riches and gifts and blessings with which the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ fills us from above. Grace is one, but it is amazingly rich in diversity of blessing. The many blessings include a new life, faith, hope, righteousness, forgiveness of sins, adoption unto children, love of God, and peace that surpasses all understanding. We can add to that patience, strength to fight the battle, comfort and consolation, light and joy, knowledge and wisdom, the resurrection from the dead and eternal glory. Such is the grace of Him who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
The effect and reflection of all these riches and favors of the God of our salvation become manifest in our life. By the power of God’s grace the sinner becomes good and beautiful before God and man. The redeemed child of God cries out: “O my God! Grace, thanks, be to Thee!”
Indeed, grace for grace, one gift of grace followed by another, so that we are overwhelmed by its riches. Hardly do we have time to receive and appreciate and give thanks for one blessing, when another is bestowed upon us. The stream is continuous, never ending. We could not live, stand, or persevere, except for that constant stream of grace. This shows that all of our salvation is of grace and never of anything else. Never is it conditional; never does one gift of grace put us in a position to merit the next. The stream is inexhaustible. Out of His fullness we all receive constantly and abundantly grace for grace.
The fountain of this grace is Christ Jesus our Lord, the Son of God and the Son of man. As the Son of God He is God of God and Light of Light. He is 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. In Him is light and life and glory and eternal joy. He is the fullness of grace.
He is also the fountain of abundant grace for us, for all His people. Ordained to be so, He is the Head of His church, that He might be the Captain of their salvation, that through Him God might lead all His children to glory. He is God’s own Mediator, the strong arm of the Lord, that He might take their sins from their shoulders. He represents them in the hour of judgment and blots out the guilt of their iniquities. Garments of righteousness He gives, so that His beloved might dwell in the house of God forever.
As the Son of man He was revealed in the fullness of time and became flesh to dwell among us. And we beheld His glory! The Lord of all was seen in the form of a servant, the infinite in the limits of flesh. The eternal fullness appeared in our emptiness. In this way He bore our iniquities on the cross, completely emptying Himself in order that He might become our fullness.
He gained the victory, as is evident in His resurrection on the third day. God raised Him from the dead, and thus gave Him the testimony that He had finished His work. O yes! All our transgressions were blotted out. Sin in the flesh was condemned forever through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death was swallowed up of life. Thus He became the inexhaustible fountain of all grace.
The same Lord that descended also ascended up on high, where He was clothed with all power in heaven and on earth. Of the Father He received the promise of the Spirit, in order that by that Spirit and through His Word He might cause the fullness of His grace to flow into our emptiness forevermore. Thus He becomes the light that dispels our darkness, the righteousness that overcomes our unrighteousness, and the fire of love that consumes our hate.
“And of his fulness have all we received.” And we might add here, “sovereignly so.” We did not accept it, did not take it. We received it, not of ourselves, but as a gift from on high. In us there is no power of receptivity for Him and for His grace. In us there is nothing but darkness, and we will never turn to the Light unless He first penetrate our darkness. He must 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, the power of His resurrection must break the bonds of death.
This fullness we have received by faith. By the activity of faith we become deeply conscious of our own emptiness, of our darkness and death, of our sin and iniquity, of the hopelessness of our state. We apprehend Him as the fullness of our complete redemption. By faith we long for Him. We long to drink from the fountain of His grace and to taste that the Lord is good.
It is all received of Him. Even faith we receive from Him. Out of Him that power of faith is made active. We are never first. Nor is it thus, that His act whereby He imparts His fullness to us, and our act whereby we receive His fullness, meet in cooperation to accomplish our salvation. He is first, always first. He imparts His fullness to us, and we receive. He gives us faith, and we believe. He draws us, and we come. He calls us to the fountain, and we drink. Always grace for grace, without end. No flesh may glory in His presence.
In this light let us take this very personal confession upon our lips, glorifying the God of our salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Out of His fullness have all we personally received, even grace for grace.