“To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)
It would be a very profitable pursuit to go through the epistles of Paul, those inspired writings which have come to us from his pen by the grace and goodness of God, to discover in one of them where grace is lacking, where grace appears not. The time would fail me to set before you the numerous portions crowding upon my mind and proving the futility of such a search. In every epistle we discover “Sovereign grace o’er sin abounding” grace which is glory in the bud, grace which appears in all its perfection in eternal glory, for glory is grace in full bloom. It is the enjoyment without interference or intermission of “THE GOD OF ALL GRACE,” of Christ the King of grace, and of the Spirit of grace, without Whom there is no knowledge or understanding of the mind and will of the Father, or of the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. This knowledge is all of grace from first to last, from the first opening of the heart for the reception of the incorruptible seed of the word, to the last display of saving grace outside the gates of glory.
You will notice how jealous the Apostle was over this grace, and over the allegiance to the King of grace of those to whom he wrote. You will see also how zealous he was in publishing the grace of God in that gospel which he styled, “THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.” (Acts 20:24) by this gospel “THE WORD OF HIS GRACE,” (Acts 20:32) the good seed of the kingdom, is communicated to the heirs of grace and glory, as you see in 1 Peter 1:23-25: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, Which liveth and abideth for ever….And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
I do not think I can do better than first of all speak of Him, without Whom grace is impossible in experience and enjoyment. All communications of grace to the heart of any member of the spiritual body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ are by Him alone. It is a blessed thing for us to know by the witness and seal of God the Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the King of grace, the Sovereign Dispenser of grace in covenant oneness with His Father and ours. Now look at the way He is introduced to our notice in the portion before us “THE BELOVED.” That is a title which finds a place in the heart of every sinner born of God, every soul in love with Jesus Christ, everyone that can say from the ground of the heart, “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” Where Christ is not beloved I desire not to stay. And mark you, when I say this, I mean the Christ of the Scriptures “THE CHRIST OF GOD.” Not the Christ palmed off upon the Christless multitude by Christless preachers around us. These cry, “Lo, here is Christ, or there;” but Christ says, “Believe it not.” (Matt. 24:23) Our Christ is the Anointed in eternal, unchanging oneness with those who are anointed by the Holy Ghost in and with Him. What is the meaning of the word of Christ? Turn to John 1:41, “We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” Margin, The Anointed. The Messiah of the Old Testament is the Christ of the New. See how He proclaimed Himself as such from Isaiah 61:1, in the synagogue of Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor,” (Luke 4:18) When He preached from these words the sovereignty of grace in election, didn’t the people love Him? Yes, so much that they would have murdered Him if they could. The very same spirit is rampant today; and were it not for His sovereign restraining power, there is no telling where we should be before long. Thanks be to His great and holy Name for the revelation given of Him in His exaltation in this very chapter.
God has “set Him at His Own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under His feet.” Not simply under His control in His hands, but all to be subdued under His feet. “And gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church.” (Eph. 1:20-23) See how this is revealed to us in the way He revealed Himself to John in the Isle of Patmos, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not, I am the First and the Last: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” (Rev. 1:17,18) Christ is the open way to glory. When Lazarus of Bethany was raised from the dead, did the Jews believe? Their folly was greater still, for they sought to kill the raised Lazarus and his Living Lord. Shortly after that they killed the Prince of life, but He rose again from the dead. Did they believe in Him? Not until the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, effectually wrought in them on the day of Pentecost the conviction that He Whom they had crucified and slain was Lord and Christ.
But to the subject “The Beloved.” Whose Beloved? The Beloved of the Father. This we see in Prov. 8:29-31, “When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as One brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.” With the very same love with which the Father loved the Son, the Son loves each and every one of those given to Him by the Father in the counsels of eternal love. Come with me to Isaiah 42:1, “Behold My Servant, Whom I uphold, Mine Elect, in Whom my soul delighteth.” All the delight the Father has in the Son of His love He has also in all His elect and predestined sons and daughters. Come to the New Testament Scriptures, and mark well the utterances from the opened heavens, when the Spirit of God descended and abode upon Him, “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)
Again we have this announcement of the Father’s appreciation of, and delight in, the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ amid the glories of the transfiguration, as recorded in Matt. 17:5, “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” Read through the gospel of John and mark well the precious declarations of the Father’s love in His dear Son, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35) “For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will show Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” (John 5:20) “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17) The Father knew Christ so well as to trust Him with the salvation, preservation and glorification of the whole election of grace. We love those we can trust, and we love to be trusted. The Father was not concerned as to the confidence He reposed in the Shepherd of the flock for the salvation of the sheep. I love these words of the Good Shepherd, “As the Father knoweth Me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down My life for the sheep.” (John 10:15) This is a knowledge of mutual delight. That of the Father in the Son is ineffable. That of the Son in the Father is inexpressible to human ears because of the weakness of our conceptions. We shall have to leave this short-sighted state before we can know that which to us down here is unknowable. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
Look at Paul’s declaration in Col. 1:13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: ” There we have and enjoy a kingdom of eternal love, and all in Jesus Christ Whom He loves unceasingly.
Before I came here this morning, I read a few chapters ending with John 17, and in the sixteenth I was bound to pause and admire the marvellous love of the Holy Ghost to the Christ of God. Pure unselfishness ever characterizes Him. He is so much in love with God’s Christ that He seeks not notice for Himself. Yet He contends and energizes mightily in all the vessels of electing mercy, that Incarnate Love, the object of the Father’s supreme delight, shall live and reign in them unrivalled. Thus we see Jesus Christ the Beloved of the Father, the Beloved of the Holy Ghost. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Rom. 5:5) Thus Christ becomes the Beloved of the church all the world over. I mean by “the church,” …God saves whom He will, and where He will, He says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Rom. 9:15) Divine Sovereignty. True benevolence and true liberality are found alone in the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which the masses of professing people hate, and, hate a sovereign God they do. But look here! The Church. Not the Church of England, not a dissenting denomination, not a clique of separatists; but the Church of the living God, the members of the spiritual body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the sheep redeemed with His most precious blood, the living stones in the temple of eternal love. Many of these never belonged to any religious organization. To what church did the dying thief belong? To what rites or ordinances did he submit? I love to be found in his company, redeemed by blood, washed from all filth at the same fountain, and clothed in the “nothing amiss” of the Dear Saviour dying by his side. That is what I like, to know that I stand justified in the “nothing amiss” of the Covenant Surety from His mother’s womb to His Father’s throne up yonder. This is His perfect righteousness, His spotless obedience, not merely in, but unto death, for “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered,” (Heb. 5:8) and in that suffering obedience we, as members of His body, stand perfect and complete, “accepted in the Beloved.”