But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,…
The co-essential, co-eternal Son of God, was revealed in the Apostle Paul. Were we possessed of all the knowledge Adam had in innocence, or which Solomon acquired by labour and industry, or which the prophets and apostles obtained by Divine inspiration — yet, without this internal revelation of Christ, we should be as remote from happiness as the devils in hell. Now observe —
I. HOW THE REVELATION OF CHRIST IN A MAN DIFFERS FROM THE MERE EXTERNAL REVELATION OF CHRIST TO A MAN.
1. They differ in their original source and spring. Both proceed from God; but the one is the fruit of His general favour, the other of His special grace.
2. In the means by which they are wrought. The one, by outward means; the other by the internal agency of the Divine spirit. Moral suasion and human instruction may reveal Christ to a man; but it is the peculiar office of the Spirit to reveal Christ in us, to take of His things and show them to us so convincingly that we shall have no doubt of their truth and reality.
3. The subject of this knowledge is different, as well as the manner of conveyance. The external revelation of Christ affects only the head; that which is internal, the heart. The one reaches only to the understanding; the other influences the practical judgment, directs the will, and gives law to the affections. The necessity and excellency of Christ, in all His characters and offices, is now so clearly discerned, that the soul goes out after Him, and rests in Him, as its supreme good and everlasting portion.
4. In their nature and essential properties. The one dark and confused; the other clear and distinct. The one is seeing things in our own light; the other, in God's light. The one is distant, and therefore undelightful; the other, appropriative and satisfying, — not equally so in every saint, but in a greater or less degree in all.
5. In their continuance. The revelation of Christ to a man may be lost, eclipsed, or destroyed; but the revelation of the text is permanent and abiding. God is the Author of it, and His gifts are without repentance; the Spirit is the efficient cause, and He never wholly withdraws His influence.
II. THE NECESSITY AND EXCELLENCE OF AN INTERNAL REVELATION OF CHRIST.
1. It is the beginning of all Christian experience, the first blessed fruit of the Spirit's influence on a sinner's heart. Without it, no grace here, and no hope of salvation hereafter. The meritorious sufferings of Christ will not save us without the spiritual knowledge of Him.
2. The foundation of all spiritual comfort. When Christ enters, light, peace, glory enter, applying what He has done, bringing home to us what He has purchased.
3. The grand spring of holiness and obedience. The more we know of Christ, the more we shall love Him; and the more we love Him, the more conscientious, universal, and unwearied will be our obedience; subjection a delight and pleasure, instead of a task or burden. Knowledge which reaches the heart, will regulate the life and conversation.
4. This revelation is especially necessary to form the ministerial character. A faithful minister must be a good man, as well as bring good tidings.
5. This revelation is connected with eternal life, and a certain pledge of, as well as necessary preparation for, a future state of happiness and glory. If ignorant of Christ, we cannot believe on Him, or be saved by Him. Closing inferences:(a) No wonder so many men of great ability arc enemies to the gospel and its doctrine of salvation. God has never yet revealed His Son in them.
(b) How should we pity those destitute of this revelation! Other wants may be afflicting: this is damning.
(c) What reason for thankfulness have those who are blessed with the spiritual saving knowledge of Christ.
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,