NOT only does John say that our Lord Jesus Christ is “full of grace and truth,” but he adds, “and of His fullness have all we :received.” It is not one saint alone who has derived grace from the Redeemer, but all have done so; and they have not merely derived a part of the blessings of grace from Jesus, but all that they ever had they received from Him.
It would be a wonderful vision if we could now behold passing before us the long procession of the chosen, the great and the small, the goodly fellows. hip of the apostles, the noble army of martyrs, the once weeping but now rejoicing band of penitents. There they go! Methinks I see them all in their white robes, bearing their palms of victory. But you shall not, if you stay the procession at any point, be able to discover one who will claim to have obtained grace from another source than Christ; nor shall one of them say, “I owed the first grace I gained to Christ, but I gained other grace elsewhere.” No, the unanimous testimony of the glorified is, “Of His fullness have all we received.” My inner eye beholds the countless throng as the wondrous procession passes, and I note how every one of the saints prostrates himself before the throne of the Lamb, and all together they cry, “‘Of His fullness have all we received.’ Whoever we may be, however faithfully we have served our Master, whatever of honor we have gained, all the glory is due unto our Lord, who has enabled us to finish our course, and to win the prize. ‘Non nobis, Domine! ’ is our cry; ‘not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name be all the praise! ‘“ What a precious truth, then, we have before us, that all the saints in all ages have been just what we must be if we would be saved; that is, receivers!
They did not any of them bring anything of merit to Christ, but they received everything from Him. If they, at this moment, cast their crowns at His, feet, those crowns were first given to them by Him. Their white robes are wedding garments of His providing. The whole course of saintship is receptive. None of the saints above talk of what they gave to Jesus, none of them speak of what came of themselves; but, without a solitary exception, they all bear testimony that they were: receivers from Jesus’ fullness.
This truth casts mire into the face of human self-sufficiency. What! is there not one saint who had a little grace of his own? Is there not one of all the favored throng who could supply himself with what he needed? No, not one. Did none of them look to the works of the law? No, they all went to Jesus and His grace, not to Moses and the law. Did none of them trust in priests of earthly anointing? Did none of theta bow down before holy fathers and saintly confessors to obtain absolution? There is not a word said about any such gentry, nor even a syllable concerning appeals to saints and saintesses; but all the saved ones declare that they received grace and salvation direct from His fullness, who filleth all in all.
These receptive saints received very abundantly from Christ’s fullness.
They drew from an abundance, and they drew largely from it, as the words seem to indicate. It is worth while to notice the marvelous simplicity of the one act by which salvation comes to all saints. It is merely by receiving.
Now, receiving is a very easy thing. There are fifty things which you cannot do; but, my dear friend, you could undoubtedly receive a guinea, could you not, if it were offered to you? There is not a rational man, or woman, or child, so imperfect in power as to be unable to receive.
Everybody seems capable of receiving to any amount; and, in salvation, you have to do nothing but merely receive what Christ gives.
There is a beggar’s hand, and if it be wanted to write a fair letter, it cannot do that, but it can receive alms. Try it, and the beggar will soon let you know that it can do so. Look at that next hand; see you. not that it has the palsy? Behold how it quivers and shakes! Ah! but for all that, it can receive. Many a palsied hand has received a jewel. But the hand that I now see, in addition to being black, and palsied, is afflicted with a foul disease; the leprosy lies within it, and is not to be washed out by any mode of purification known to us; yet even that hand can receive; and the saints all came to be saints, and have remained saints, through doing exactly what that poor black, quivering, leprous hand can do. There was not in John any good thing but what he had received from his Master; there was not in the noble proto-martyr, Stephen, one grain of courage but what he had received from Christ; Paul, Apollos, Cephas, -- all these had nothing but what they took from Him. If, then, they’ received, everything from Christ, why should we hesitate to do the same?
All their grace came by receiving; so, dear reader, I put to you the question, — Have you received of the fullness of Christ? Have you come to Him all empty-handed, and taken Him to be your All-in-all? I know what you did at first; you were busy accumulating the shining heaps of your own merits and esteeming them as if they were so much gold; but you found out that your labor profited not, so at last you came to Christ emptyhanded, and said to Him, “My precious Savior, do but give me Thyself, and I will abandon all thought of my own merit. I renounce all my giving, and doing, and working, and I take Thee to be everything to me.” Then, friend, you are saved if that be true, for acceptance of Christ is the hall-mark of saints.
The fullness of God’s grace is placed where you can receive it; where you can receive it now, for it is placed in Him who is your Brother, bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh; it dwells in Him who loves to give it, because, as our Head, He delights to communicate grace to all the members of His mystical body. The plenitude of grace dwells in Him who is Himself yours; and since He is yours, all that is in Him is yours. You need not pray as if you had no inheritance in the blessing which you seek.
Christ is the Trustee of the fullness of God, and the ownership of it is vested in His people; you have only to ask of Him, and He will give you that which is your own already. Why do you hesitate? How can you linger?
The Father has placed His grace in Christ because it gratifies His love to His Son. It pleases the heart of the great God to see Jesus adorned with the fullness of Deity, and every time Jesus gives out grace to believers, the heart of God is thereby gladdened. How can you hesitate about receiving it if it pleases God for you to partake of it? You may go with high expectation of comfort, since Jesus Himself is honored by your going to Him. He obtains glory by distributing of His fullness to empty sinners, who, when they receive grace, are sure to love Him; then, how can you think Him reluctant to bestow the gift which will increase His glory?
Thinking upon this subject brings to my mind right joyful memories of the hour when first these eyes looked to Christ, and were lightened; when I received pardon from His dying love, and knew myself forgiven. Have not many of my readers similar recollections? And since your conversion, is it not true that everything good you have ever had you have received from your Lord? What have you drunk out of your own cistern? What treasure have you found in your own fields? Nakedness, poverty, misery, death, — these are the only possessions of nature; but life, riches, fullness, joy, — these are gifts of grace through Jesus Christ. Are you accepted before God? Then, He has justified you. Have you been kept? Then, He has preserved you. Are you sanctified? Then, He has cleansed you by His blood. Do you know, by full assurance, your interest in the Father’s love?
Then, He gave you that assurance. All you have, and all you ever will have, all that every saint who ever will be born shall have, that is worth the having, — all has been received, and will be received from Christ’s fullness.
Do you not know, too, that when you receive from Christ, you gain by that very act? I am so thankful that Christ has not put the fullness of grace in myself, for then I should not require to go to Him so often; or if I did go to Him, I should not have an errand to go upon of such importance as to justify me in seeking an audience; but now, every time I go to Christ’s door, I can plead necessity. We go to Him because we must go. When is there an hour when a believer does not need to receive from Jesus? Go, then, beloved, to Him often, since your going honors Christ, pleases God, and is the means of soul-enrichment for yourselves.