Born of God (continued)
The New Birth Is All of Grace
In conclusion, let us think for a few minutes of Mary herself, because she is characteristic in some ways of the vessel of the new birth. To whom, to what, upon what ground, will the new birth take place? Here there is a correspondence between the birth of the Lord Jesus and the new birth of every child of God. We have, of course, to recognize the Divine sovereignty of eternal election: "chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world." Let us accept that, and leave it for the moment. We come into the operation and activity of God in time. Upon what ground in time, in our own lives, will this thing come to us? Are there some grounds, are there some occasions, are there some conditions which will always obtain where God comes in in this way?
Yes, always. One of the beautiful things about Mary, as characteristic of a vessel of new birth, was that which the angel said to her: "Hail, thou that art highly favored of God." The margin perhaps gets nearer to the true meaning: "Hail, thou that art endued with grace." That is the beginning of every new birth - endued with grace. If there was one person in that little country in those days who was aware - and this comes out so clearly - of the wonder of this, the condescension of this, and her own unworthiness of it, it was Mary. "How should this thing be?" Before this wonderful thing can happen to us, we have often to be brought to the place where the only word that suits the situation in our consciousness is grace; it is God's grace; it is all of grace. "Thou art endued with grace."
That is simple, I know, but that is the beginning of everything for the Christian life, for this wonderful miracle of God: that we must see and be deeply impressed, as she was, with our own utter worthlessness in this matter: that this could never be to us if we, in ourselves, in our own state, were the deciding factor. It is only God's infinite mercy, His infinite grace. That is a humble and a contrite spirit, and God is with that. But the new birth is but the beginning. This which is of God and of Heaven, has to grow and grow; more and more that is to be an increase of Him; but it is all on the same basis - the emptying of ourselves, the pouring out of all that is selfhood, to make way for the grace of God.
(continued with # 36 - "Submissiveness and Simplicity")