WORLD GOSPEL KINGDOM TRACTS
Unlocking the Mystery of Human Life
Crystallization of the Epistle to the Romans
The Grace of God
Prayer: Lord, we would never stop our worshipping of You as the speaking God. Thank You for Your spoken Word and also for Your written Word that constitutes the Bible. Hallelujah! In this universe on this earth there is the Bible! What a wonder and what a grace! Even though Your Word has been spoken and written, we do not understand it that much. We understand it mostly according to the black and white, according to the letter. We have not entered into the intrinsic revelation that is conveyed in every word, especially in the crucial words, and the most crucial word is grace! For many years we have read through Your written Word, and we have taken many of the verses on grace for granted. We would never ask what they mean. We just read them and even recite them without the intrinsic understanding of what You are saying. Thank You for Your sovereign arrangement that we could have such a message to get into the crystallization of Your deep Word, of the depths of Your revelation. Here is our prayer. We need You. We need You to be our understanding. How we long to see this matter of grace! We cannot speak because of the shortage of human language. We trust in You for the speaking. O Lord, be our speaking, be the speaking in our speaking. Be one spirit with us, and make us one spirit with You. We are not teaching people the Bible in the way of a Bible study. We are here seeking what is on Your heart, in Your desire, in Your pleasure, which is conveyed in Your Word. We trust in You. Amen.
Thus far, we have covered grace in the New Testament with three main writers: John, Peter, and Paul. John is the one who initiates and ends the New Testament concerning grace. Peter is rich in his writing concerning grace. But the most complete, perfect, and rich one is the apostle Paul in his fourteen Epistles. In this message we want to cover the gleanings in the vast field of God’s grace. The field of God’s grace is so vast that we need a gleaning.
In the typology of the Old Testament, there is a wonderful pattern of gleaning in the story of Ruth. Ruth was eventually married to Boaz through her gleaning in Boaz’s field. Boaz was very rich, kind, and generous. He purposely left some sheaves on the field and scattered them for the people to glean. In the Old Testament, God’s commandment to Israel concerning the reaping of the harvest was that Jehovah would bless the children of Israel if they left the corners of their fields and the gleanings for the poor, the sojourners, the orphans, and the widows (Leviticus 23:22; 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19). Today we all are Ruths. We have become poor. We do not have a field, nor can we have a harvest like Boaz’s. But thank God that we can carry out the gleaning.
This is similar to the case of the Canaanite woman who came to the Lord Jesus for help. The Lord Jesus said that it was not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs (Matthew 15:26). But she responded, “Yes, Lord, for even the little dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (v. 27). She was saying that she had the right to glean. Day by day I feel that I am like a Canaanite dog who is gleaning of the riches of Christ.
In a sense, we have harvested the field of God’s grace. Now we need to come to the corners of this field to glean the riches of grace from the books of the New Testament which we have not covered. Only two writers of the New Testament do not mention grace: Matthew and Mark. Although John speaks of grace, he does not mention grace in his first and third Epistles. We need to come back to glean something of grace from Luke to Jude and from Peter’s field and John’s field.
The truth concerning grace is very important. Grace is covered by many writers in many different ways. Luke refers to grace at the time of the Lord’s conceiving in Mary. In Luke 1:28 the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Rejoice, you who have been graced! The Lord is with you.” In verse 30 he said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor [grace] with God.” Most translations use the word favor instead of grace, but the word in the Greek text is the same word used for grace. In our Recovery Version, we translated verse 28 properly. Mary was graced by the Lord. But in verse 30 we translated grace as “favor.”
Mary’s conceiving of the Lord Jesus was great because that was God’s incarnation within her. This was not just Mary’s finding favor or being favored by God. This was a matter of grace. Whatever is mentioned as the first case in the Bible becomes the principle, and the first case in the New Testament of grace is the case of God’s incarnation. At one time God was in an unapproachable place (1 Timothy 6:16). In the Old Testament, He came out to visit people, but never in His visitation did He stay with the one who was visited by Him. He came to Abraham and feasted with him, but then He left. He came to Gideon and left. He came to a number of persons in the Old Testament, but His coming was merely a temporary visit.
His incarnation was different from this. His incarnation was not just His coming to visit Mary. Instead, He came to stay in Mary, to stay in her physical womb. Matthew 1:20 says that what was begotten in Mary was of the Holy Spirit. God came to visit Mary, and He entered into her and stayed in her to be the very essence of her conceiving of a wonderful Person, who would be both God and man, a God-man. The incarnation was a great thing. God came to visit people, to enter into people, and to stay in people. This is grace. Mary was graced by God and found grace with God.
Grace is God’s visitation to stay in man, to be born in man, and to be one with man. We should not forget that Mary’s being graced by God in the conception of the Man-Savior is the first mention of the word grace in the New Testament, so this establishes a principle. Second Timothy 4:22 says, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” The Lord came to stay in us, to be born in us, to be one with us, and even to become us. This is grace. We must keep this definition of grace in mind. Then with this definition we can interpret every verse where grace is mentioned in the New Testament.
Luke 2:52 says that the young boy Jesus advanced in grace and in wisdom and in stature. Jesus, as a young boy, advanced in grace with God. What does this mean? We have to say again that grace is God’s visitation to stay in man, to be born in man, and to be one with man. No doubt, Jesus was a boy who behaved perfectly, but that was not all. He also advanced in grace with God. That means that God was growing in Him.
GLEANINGS IN THE VAST FIELD OF GOD’S GRACE
1. The Grace Which Was the Initiation of God’s
Grace in the New Testament by the Holy Spirit’s
Visit to Mary for the Conceiving of Christ
The grace which Mary found and with which God graced her was the initiation of God’s grace in the New Testament (Luke 1:28, 30). We must study this point by fellowshipping deeply.
2. The Grace in Which the Lord Jesus
Grew in His Humanity as the Preparation
for Him to Minister the Grace of God
in His Ministry as the Savior of Man
The Lord Jesus grew in grace (Luke 2:40). That means that He grew in God as grace. As the Savior of man, in His ministry, He ministered God as grace to people, so He Himself as a young man grew in grace, in God. We may wonder what growing in God means. We need to see that God Himself is a constitution. He is constituted with many attributes. God is love, light, holiness, righteousness, etc. He is myriads of wonderful items. Every item of what God is, is an attribute of God. Our God is constituted in Himself with many attributes. When we grow in God, we grow in God’s attributes.
The little boy Jesus did not have that much of the attributes of God, so He grew in grace. Grace is God Himself, and God is constituted with many attributes. Thus, as Jesus grew up, He became the constitution of God’s attributes. Our human language is inadequate to fully explain this. To grow in God simply means to be constituted with all the attributes of God, the attributes with which God Himself is constituted.
Before we were saved, we did not have a bit of God. But since we believed into Christ and received God into us, some divine attributes of God have been constituted into our being. Now, as seeking Christians, we are growing in God all the time. We are growing in His attributes. We are growing in His constitution. God’s attributes, God’s constitution, become grace. Grace is God’s visitation, and God is a constitution of His divine attributes. When the young boy Jesus was growing in grace, that was His preparation to come out to minister God, with whom He was constituted, as the Savior of man. That young boy could be full of love, full of light, and full of all the attributes of God because He was growing up in these attributes.
3. The Grace in Which Jesus as a Young Boy
Advanced with God and Men While He Was
Also Advancing in Wisdom and Stature
The young boy, Jesus, grew in three things: in wisdom, in stature, and in grace (Luke 2:52). In today’s schools and in the homes, young ones are educated to grow in wisdom. But with Jesus, something was different. Jesus was advanced first in grace. His God was added to Him. Luke says that He advanced in grace and in wisdom and in stature. A person may grow to a large stature and yet not have grown in wisdom, because he did not gain the proper education. Others may grow in both wisdom and bodily stature, but they do not have God. We are here growing in God. We do not focus on growing in wisdom and stature. We may be great in wisdom and stature and also be short of God. A proper man should grow in three things—first, in God; second, in wisdom; and third, in bodily stature. To grow in grace is to grow in the increase of God. Grace is God’s visitation to us to stay in us and make Himself one with us. We are growing in this grace.
4. The Grace That Proceeded out of the Mouth
of the Lord Jesus as the God-sent
Prophet to Men to Meet Their Need
Luke 4:22 says that “all bore witness to Him and marveled at the words of grace proceeding out of His mouth.” Man needs God. Jesus is a Man fully equipped, saturated, and constituted with God. He is the practical God, God Himself. When He comes to you, God comes. When He opens up His mouth, grace comes out of His mouth. That means God comes out.
Paul said that his second visit to the Corinthians would be a second grace to them (2 Corinthians 1:15). This is because Paul was constituted with grace. As Saul of Tarsus, he had merely a great mentality, but after his salvation he was transformed. His name was changed to Paul, which means “little.” Although he was little, he had the biggest portion of God. When Paul came to people, grace came. When he taught people, he ministered grace to them.
I was with Brother Watchman Nee for eighteen years. We came together often. Every time I met with him, he ministered God as grace to me. One afternoon I went to visit him, and he asked me, “Witness, what is patience?” This question troubled me because I knew he did not want a simple answer. Eventually, he told me that patience is nothing but Christ. In this contact with him, I gained a big portion of God. He ministered God to me.
In order to be vital, we must be persons who are full of God, with the addition, advance, and growth of God. If a young girl is growing with God, she might tell her grandfather, “Grandpa, I love the Lord, so I love you.” In saying this to her grandfather, she ministers God to him. If many of us go to preach the gospel today, we will have more of God to minister to others than we did two years ago. To be vital is to be full of God. In order to be full of God, we must have the advance in God, the growth in God, the continuous addition of God. Thus, we can be God-sent prophets. When we go out, we must have the assurance that we are God-sent prophets.
When I promoted going to visit people by knocking on their doors in 1984, some said that this did not work. They said that they went out for three weeks, but did not gain anyone. We need to realize that we must be prepared to go out for three years to gain people, not just three weeks. Perhaps you would go to visit someone, and he would be very cold toward you. If you would go to him repeatedly, despite being turned away by him, he would eventually think, “There must be something with this man. Why does he come to me again and again?” After the fifth time you visit him, he may eventually say, “Please come in.” Then he would ask, “Why do you come to me month after month? Who hired you? What’s your job? Why do you do this?” Perhaps at this point, your tears would come down and you would say, “I come because Jesus loves me, and Jesus loves you. I want to let you know that Jesus loves you.” This may cause him to shed tears also and he will be saved. This is what it means to be vital. Who can withstand our repeated visitation to them with God as grace? Eventually, people will be subdued by this. If we go out again and again to visit people by knocking on their doors, eventually we will gain some.
5. The Grace Which Is the Expression of God’s
Attributes in Human Virtues in the Living
of the Early Believers in Jerusalem
Acts 2:47 describes a situation in which the early believers in Jerusalem were contacting God and experiencing God. Everyone was full of God. That was a situation of grace which could be seen by others. That grace was the visitation of God. A group of believers were growing to express God’s attributes in their virtues. They were humble, loving, and full of light. All these were human virtues, but these virtues were the expression of God’s attributes. That was the issue of their experience of God as grace.
6. The Grace Which Was upon the Multitude
of Believers When the Apostles Gave Them
Testimony of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus
When the apostles gave the believers testimony concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, great grace was upon them (Acts 4:33). When we are under the proper ministry of the word, grace is also upon us. There is an atmosphere and situation of God’s presence with us. The presence of God is the grace.
7. The Grace of Which Stephen Was Full,
and the Power of Which He Was Full, When He
Did Great Wonders and Signs among the People
When Stephen was full of grace and full of power, he did great wonders and signs among the people (Acts 6:8). In Pentecostalism many of the so-called miracles and healings are false. But what Stephen did was the genuine manifestation of grace. That was God’s visitation. God was there.
8. The Grace Enjoyed by the Believers
in Antioch, Which Barnabas Saw
When Barnabas went to Antioch, he saw God’s grace which the believers there enjoyed (Acts 11:23). That means that they were all continually enjoying God’s visitation.
9. The Grace in Which the New
Believers Were Urged to Continue by
the Apostles Paul and Barnabas
The apostles Paul and Barnabas urged the new believers to continue in the grace (Acts 13:43). That means to continue in advancing and growing in grace, which is the visitation of God.
10. The Grace of Which the Word of God Is,
Ministered to the New Believers
by Paul and Barnabas
The word of God is called the word of grace. This word of grace was ministered to the new believers by Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:3). The word of grace is the word of God Himself, the word of God’s visitation.
11. The Grace of God to Which Paul
and Barnabas Had Been Commended
for the Work Which They Fulfilled
When Paul and Barnabas were going out, the saints commended them to the grace of God (Acts 14:26). That means when they went out, they would always be under God’s visitation, God’s grace. The saints commended them to God’s visitation.
12. The Grace of the Lord Jesus through Which
Peter and the Jewish Believers Were Saved
in the Same Way as the Gentile Believers Were
There was a grace through which Peter and the Jewish believers were saved. Then they saw that the Gentiles were saved in the same way (Acts 15:11). This way was God’s presence, God’s grace, God’s visitation.
13. The Grace of the Lord to Which Paul and
Silas Were Commended by the Brothers
Acts 15:40 says, “But Paul chose Silas and went out, having been commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers.” This time we see that Paul and Silas were commended to the Lord’s grace by the brothers. This was the start of Paul’s second ministry journey.
14. The Grace through Which Apollos
Helped the Believers in the Region of Achaia
Apollos brought and ministered God as grace in every place he went in Achaia (Acts 18:27).
15. The Grace of Which Is the Gospel Solemnly
Testified by the Apostle Paul in His Ministry
Paul, in his ministry, always ministered God as grace. He solemnly testified of the gospel of the grace of God to minister God into people (Acts 20:24).
16. The Grace of Which the Word Is, to Which
the Apostle Paul Committed the Ephesian Elders
Paul the apostle committed the Ephesian elders to the word of God’s grace (Acts 20:32). This grace is God’s visitation, God’s presence.
17. The Grace Which Is Greater, Given by God
to the Humble as It Was Prophesied
in the Old Testament That God Resists
the Proud but Gives Grace to the Humble
James 4:6 says, “But He gives greater grace; therefore it says, ‘God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” If we are humble, God will come to us, and we will experience His visitation. This is grace. God rejects the proud. That means God will not visit them. But God will come to the humble all day. When we are humble, God is with us, and this presence of God is grace.
18. The Grace with Mercy and Peace,
Which Is with the Believers from
God the Father and from Jesus Christ,
the Son of the Father, in Truth and Love
Second John 3 says, “Grace, mercy, peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” When we live in truth and in love, that is a sign that God is with us, and that is the grace. Grace is actually God Himself visiting people. When we live in truth and love, God comes to visit us, and that is grace.
19. The Grace Which Was Perverted into
Licentiousness by Ungodly Men, Who Denied
the Only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ
Jude 4 says that ungodly men perverted the grace of our God into licentiousness and denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. The ungodly men perverted God’s presence in such a sinful way and denied the Headship and Lordship of Christ.
Verses and footnotes are taken from The Recovery Version of the Holy Bible and Words of Ministry from Brother Witness Lee, Crystallization-Study of the Epistle to the Romans, Message 23, The Grace of God. Both are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA. All Rights Reserved.
Let us walk becomingly as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in fornication and licentiousness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:13, 14