Receive Not The Grace of God in Vain
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2 Corinthians 6:1-3, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive
not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.”
There is much more in the verses afore mentioned than we could ever hope to uncover. But it is my sincere desire to try to show the beauty of what the Apostle Paul was writing in his letter to the Corinthians. His message should be an inspiration and an encouragement for us to desire to walk in closer communion with God, as well as to rejoice in the message of sovereign grace! The underlying message of this 6th chapter is, “Receive not the grace of God in vain”.
Paul first says, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain”. Paul calls himself a worker with Christ. In 1Corinthians 3:9(a) he states, “For we are labourers together with God”. Paul is not referring to himself as equal to Christ, for the minister is the servant of Christ. Paul sees himself under Christ, yet it is true that considerable work is required in the ministry if one is to do the full work of the ministry. A minister who is performing the qualifications of his calling is not doing so looking for self- rewards but rather he does it out of love for God’s people. The minister is spoken of as an Ox. An Ox is an animal made to work and plow the ground so that the ground may bring forth its fruit.
Paul was quick to tell them that his work was for their benefit. He endured all things for the elect’s sake that they might also receive the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. He would say that “I beseech you”, or the same could be said, “I beg of you”. It was out of love that Paul was writing to the church at Corinth. A minister’s care for the church is from the Lord he is an overseer and his desire should be to feed His flock. Paul would then make a statement that would be the theme throughout the 6th chapter of 2nd Corinthians, “receive not the grace of God in vain”. This grace of God is not speaking of eternal grace. We don’t receive eternal salvation in vain! The chapter prior to the one under consideration speaks of those who have been reconciled to God through Christ. We don’t receive him, but rather he chose us and redeemed us. The grace of God is speaking of Christ in the gospel. Paul is saying, “don’t receive the gospel of Jesus Christ in vain”. In John 1:11-13, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Here, as before, we are speaking of receiving Christ in the gospel. Receiving the understanding that he is the Son of God, and that he is the Savior of the world. But before we look any further into this thought provoking statement, let us consider what was said in the second verse. This will give us a greater understanding to what Paul was saying.
Verse 2 states, “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
It is in parenthetical phrase and is from Isaiah 49:8. These words do not refer to Paul and those he is talking to, but rather these are the words of God the Father to His Son. This verse speaks of the grace of God. First we see Christ’s intercession for his people, Second is the unity of the 3 in 1 Godhead, and lastly we see the results of these two, namely the year of Jubilee, or the day of salvation.
Christ’s intercession: “I have heard thee in a time accepted”
In John 11:42 Christ said, “And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” The Father always hears what the Son says. In John chapter 17 we have recorded a prayer that Christ prayed to his Father. It is recorded for our understanding of how Christ intercedes and mediates for us. It speaks of Christ receiving his glory, and the glory of the Father. Then he speaks of those whom the Father gave him, and that they might be kept, or preserved. How wonderful it is that the Father heard the Son in all that he did. It was the Father who heard Christ cry out on Calvary, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. It was an accepted time for the Father to hear the Son, for Redemption was being made on Calvary. It was then that the Father could hear the Son and turn his hands upon the little ones. Through his death on Calvary and his ascension, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men (Eph. 4:8).
The Unity of the Godhead: “…and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee”
To succor someone means to help or to bring aid. 1John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Christ said, “I and my Father are one”. They are inseparable and they agree together concerning all things. Jude said that it was God the Father who sanctified, Preserved in Christ Jesus, and it is the Holy Ghost that calls one effectually. Even while Christ cried on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. Acts 20:28 tells us that it was God’s blood that purchased his redeemed. In Zechariah the Lord said, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.” The word “fellow” means, comrade or associate. It refers to someone of equal status and also gives us a picture of God the Father and God the Son being companions together in the salvation of his elect. What a comfort it is when we consider that salvation was carried out by the 3 in 1 Godhead and they were working in unison together to achieve that desire. What greater love is displayed than to realize the work that was completed by God in the salvation of his people!
The year of Jubilee: “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Now we look at the results of Christ’s intercessions and the unity of the 3 in 1 Godhead on Calvary. That is affectionately called the acceptable year of the Lord! Christ spoke in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” So when is the acceptable year of the Lord? It started when Christ died on Calvary and continues today. It is what his death accomplished on Calvary that declared the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of Jubilee (a shout of joy). It is the epicenter of the gospel! In Leviticus chapter 25, we see what the year of Jubilee is. It was the 50th year, the Day of Atonement; the blowing of the trumpet marked it. It was in the year of Jubilee that liberty was proclaimed throughout all the land and every man was turned back to his possession, and every man unto his family! It was through Christ’s atonement on Calvary that brought liberty to His people, it was His death, burial, and resurrection that brought every one captive to the law back unto his family; the family of God! Now the gospel trumpet is blown and declares freedom for bankrupt sinners. The gospel trumpet delivers those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
These thoughts declare the grace of God. It is the gospel of our salvation and speaks expressly of Jesus Christ and him crucified. It was the Apostle Paul’s intent to mention this 2nd verse that we might better obtain to the 1st verse of chapter 6. These people at Corinth had heard the gospel and I am sure they rejoiced in them. They, no doubt, had received the “grace of God”. But Paul
said not to receive it in vain. In other words Paul was saying, “if you have received this gospel in your hearts and you rejoice in it, but it gives you no direction or purpose in this life then you have received it in vain; it has been of no profit to you or to those around you”.
Let us look at a few ways in which we can receive the grace of God in vain. We can receive the grace of God in vain:
1) “Come unto me all ye labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. There is a great rest in God’s house, a rest from the heavy load of sin and the weight of the law. It is vain to receive the grace of God and not come to Christ by water baptism. The churches in Galatia had received the grace of God in vain. Paul said to them, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” O what great comfort and joy, what great peace and contentment is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ! It will cause one to say, “It is well”, regardless of the trial or tribulation. With our eyes steadfast on Christ we can walk above our troubles and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Paul said in Hebrews 4:1-10, “ Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
2) We can receive the grace of God in vain concerning our fellowship with God. God cannot and does not have fellowship with darkness. Nor will God have fellowship with us in this life while we live in sin. It takes repentance of our sins to have fellowship with God. Repentance is a change of mind from the things that lure us away from God in this life. It is a turning to God in our lives, and we need that daily! David said in Psalms 51:10-11, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me ”. Peter said, “repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”. The Pharisees and Sadducees were impenitent. They would not humble themselves and repent of their ways. As a result God moved out of the Jews and went to the Gentiles. Their house was left desolate. Christ said there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:7). It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, and Godly sorrow worketh repentance. The account of Christ’s suffering on Calvary’s cross should work in the child of God a repentance from his fleshly ways to serve God in obedience. The Apostle John spoke of our fellowship with God in the first chapter of 1 John.
In our comfort and rest of what Christ has done on Calvary. In our fellowship and walk with God.
In our fellowship with those of the household of God.
In our daily walk before others.
We can receive the grace of God in vain by not resting in His finished work. Christ said,
3) We can receive the grace of God in vain concerning our fellowship with those of the household of God. While number two listed above speaks of repentance, our fellowship with our brethren and sisters in the church has much to do with our forgiveness with one another. Forgiveness can sometimes be the hardest thing for the child of God to have. Our carnal nature would rather hold grudges against someone. Our pride would have us think that someone owes us something or that we deserve better than we are treated. But true forgiveness for one another comes from God. And through his word we read of how we are to forgive one another, even as God for Christ sake hath forgiven us. Paul said in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” God has forgiven us in all our sins, when we did nothing to receive his forgiveness. What a small thing it is that we should forgive one another! In Matthew 18:21-22 Christ tells us how many times we are to forgive one another, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” Un-forgiveness can led to bitter disputes and ungodly attitudes towards one another in God’s house. Paul said in Hebrews 12:15, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”. We all have the roots of bitterness in us. And if left unchecked, they will begin to spring up. Not having forgiveness for one another will cause the root of bitterness to spring up, defiling many. To defile is to contaminate or pollute through our sins. We can contaminate and pollute our fellowship with one another by not having forgiveness.
4) We can receive the grace of God in vain concerning our daily walk before others. Paul said in Philippians 2:12-15, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world”. How do we act and what things would others say about us out side of the church? Are we letting our light shine and working out that salvation which God has worked in us? The church at Corinth had a problem with this. They were not identified as being separate from the rest of the world. Paul would tell them that they needed to sanctify themselves and to separate themselves from others. Does our walk before others speak well of our church. If we just leave the meetinghouse with no desire to let our light shine and to apply the gospel to our every day lives then we have received the grace of God in vain.
Paul says in verse 3, “Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed”. Even the minister is warned. He can lay stumbling blocks in the way of God’s children by leading them into error. For this reason the ministry can be found in fault with others. It can give a bad taste in the mouth of those who are looking for the truth.
I trust that we would receive not the grace of God in vain, and that our lives would be filled with the blessings from God and that our love would flow from breast to breast, rejoicing in Christ’s finished work. Our lives should never just cumber the ground but we should be bringing forth fruit pleasing and glorifying to God (Luke 13:7). Nor should we be as the empty house that is swept and garnished. An empty house (or mind) is the devils playground (Matthew 12:44).