Grace for Character and Conduct (continued)
First of all, "the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men," and I take it that this thought of salvation refers in the first instance to the inward life. The grace of God is sufficient for our inward life. It comes in the power of salvation for deliverance, and the sphere in which we need deliverance is inside, and not outside. Let us be quite sure about that. You would never dispute it in relation to anyone, man or woman, who does not know the Saviour. You know that, when you begin to speak to them of the Christian life, they will always say that in their circumstances, just where they are, it is not possible to live a Christian life. And the attitude of the natural man is always that it is the outward realm that needs changing, but we all know that it is not there. What we need is deliverance inwardly, and if we are free there, then we will be all right wherever we are.
Now, it is the grace of God which, appearing, brings salvation to all men. The Authorized Version says: "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men," but that cannot be the meaning, for it is not true. Of course, the problem arises: Does the grace of God bring salvation to all men? Surely this is what it means: the grace of God has appeared and it is a grace which is capable of saving all men, of bringing salvation to every kind of man. There is none so weak or so handicapped that the grace of God is not sufficient for them, nor is there anyone so strong or so good that the grace of God is not their only sufficiency. It is for all men, and it does not matter where the word of the Lord finds you. There is only one solution to your problem, and that is the grace of God. There are so many realms in which we may need deliverance, but the grace of God comes bringing salvation. "The grace of God hath appeared," has been made manifest. The whole effort of the Spirit of God is to make us believe that this is something that God has in hand - and that is so true of the whole Christian life. Your problem may be (and perhaps in this very thing you do not know the grace of God) that you have not yet realized how utterly and completely the whole matter of the Christian life is God's concern. It is His responsibility, and it is from His side. How do you know the grace of God? Well, God appears to you with it. You cannot say more than that!
This is what happened to Paul. It is true that he prayed three times, but he did not get deliverance by praying, and nothing was put on the credit side of his life for his helpfulness because he prayed three times. No, deliverance came to him when the Lord appeared. "He hath said unto me ..." Oh, when the Lord speaks to you, you know it! You see, this does not speak of a man wrestling a promise from God. It speaks of the grace of God, unmerited, unexpected, and very often unasked. And it appears to all. Blessed be His Name!
It appeared supremely in the Person of His dear Son, Who is the very embodiment of God's grace. Who was asking for Him to come? Who was expecting Him? There were very few who wanted Him, but He came, moved by His great Divine compassion and concern which we call the grace of God.
(continued with # 5)