God’s Perfect Wisdom in the Distribution of His Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10
       By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The Christian is not a good man. He is vile wretch who has been saved by the grace of God.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The best of men are men at best; and, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, and the power of divine grace, hell itself does not contain greater monsters than you and I might become.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Were it not for the grace of God there would be no such thing as a Christian.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Grace does not run in families. It needs something more than good examples and good advice to make us children of God.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Grace does not run in the blood, but corruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: A man is not a Christian unless he can say with Paul, “I am what I am by the grace of God,” I Corinthians 15:10.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): We know that the grace of God is not given to all men; and that to them to whom it is given, it is given neither according to the merits of works, nor according to the merits of will, but by gratuitous favour; and to those to whom it is not given, we know that it is not given by the righteous judgment of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Because grace is exercised toward those who are destitute of worthiness or merit, grace is sovereign; that is to say, God bestows grace upon whom He pleases. Divine sovereignty has ordained that some shall be cast into the Lake of Fire to show that all deserved such a doom. But grace comes in like a drag-net and draws out from a lost humanity a people for God’s name, to be throughout all eternity the monuments of His inscrutable favour.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): And, as Christians, are we the offspring of contingency? Is conversion a happy accident? It is the work of God, and He does nothing without foreknowledge and design…He hath saved us and called us, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, II Timothy 1:9.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Although the persons are designed and allowed unto Him from eternity, who were to receive this grace at His hands, yet as to the manner and the circumstance of His dispensing and communicating these blessings, they are wholly committed unto His sovereign will and wisdom. Hence, some He calls at one time, some at another; some in the morning that they may glorify grace in working all the day; some in the evening of their lives, that they may exalt pardoning mercy to eternity. On some He bestows much grace, that He may render them useful in the strength of it; on others less, that He may keep them humble, in a sense of their wants.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): All have not the same degree of grace, though all have the same grace for kind, and though all be in the same covenant.

MATTHEW HENRY: Grace signifies two things: the goodwill of God towards us, which is sufficient to strengthen and comfort us, and the good work of God in us.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The grace of God has a real influence upon the whole man. It enlightens the whole understanding, directs the will, purifies the affection, regulates the passions, and corrects the different excesses to which different persons are by constitution or habit inclined. Yet it seldom wholly changes the complexion or temper of the animal frame. It does not impart any new natural powers, though it teaches the use and improvement of those we have received.

WILLIAM FENNER (1560-1640): Grace comes not to take away a man’s affections, but to take them up.

JOHN NEWTON: Hence there are a great variety of characters in the Christian life; and the several graces of the Spirit, as zeal, love, meekness, faith, appear with peculiar advantage in different subjects.

J. HALL (circa 1861): Why, the tastes and the temperaments of Christian people are as varied as their faces and their voices. The natural temperament, doubtless, has a great deal to do in the growth of Christian graces. The temperament of a man before conversion remains with him after conversion, only with this difference―that now it is baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and consecrated to the service of God. For example, it was Divine grace operating upon a disposition naturally amiable, which produced a Barnabas, a son of consolation. It was that working upon an energetic disposition which had fired a soul with great boldness in the faith, and produced a Boanerges, a son of thunder. Why, look at Melancthon and Luther. Melancthon said the scriptures imparted to the soul a holy and marvellous delight, it was the heavenly ambrosia. Now, Luther said the Word of the Lord was a sword, it was a war, it was a destruction, and it leaped upon the children of Ephraim like lions of the forest. These men were equally pious, yet the gentle Melancthon saw in the Word of God little else than a fount of life, and a river of God’s pleasure, while the impetuous and earnest Luther saw and heard only the thunder and flame of an angry God.

JOHN OWEN: Some He makes rich in light, others in love; some in faith, and others in patience, that they may all peculiarly praise Him, and set out the fullness of His stores. And hereby He glorifies every grace of His spirit by making it shine eminently in one or another; as faith in Abraham and Peter, love in David and John, patience in Job; and He renders His subjects useful to one another, in that they have opportunities―upon the defects and fullness of each other―to exercise all their graces. And so He renders His whole mystical body comely and uniform, keeping every member in humility and dependence, while it sees its own wants in some graces that others excel in; and so the joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): Probably, in no part of God’s dealings with His people is the perfection of His work more apparent—His wisdom, love, and power more clearly seen—than in fitting them for exact niche in life He had pre-ordained them to fill.


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