The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
I. THE MEANING OF THESE WORDS.
1. To the careless they are but as the playground bell to the schoolboy, which tells him that he may cease from his drudgery and go to his games again. So, because these words generally form part of the sacred formula with which our Christian worship is wont to end, they are to the careless who may be present scarce any more than the welcome signal that at last the dreary service is all done. and they may go back to the world again.
2. To the many amongst Christian worshippers. These have no precise, definite meaning attached to the constantly heard words, but they know they mean blessing, and blessing from the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore they delight in them and their heart answers "Amen" to them.
3. Their real meaning. No doubt they have primary reference to that "grace of God which," through the Lord Jesus Christ, "bringeth salvation" to us and to all men. But this is not their exclusive meaning. Yet they tell of blessing in which all can share, which may be asked for and pronounced upon all. Hence, blessings which only some need, such as temporal relief from poverty, perplexity, persecution, and the like; or even spiritual good, such as conversion, or deliverance from some special temptation, or the bestowment of some particular form of Christian excellence and character, - not even these, or any one good of any kind, are what is comprised in this much meaning word "grace." But if we go back to the root meaning of the word, we find it denotes that which causes joy; that is grace. All the uses and forms of the word spring from this root. Therefore "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" is that gift from him, whatever it be, that will minister joy to us. Hence it may be one thing to one person, and another to another, and something still different to yet others. Therefore note -
II. ITS APPLICATION. Consider this:
1. In reference to those to whom St. John wrote, the Churches of Christ in Asia. Amongst them there were those who needed temporal relief because of their poverty; others, to be thoroughly converted to Christ; others, to be endued with a holy courage; all, a higher degree of Christian life. Now, according to the need of each would be the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to them.
2. To ourselves. Varied are our wants, none needing exactly the same gift, none finding the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in what is so to another. Whether it be Christ's ministry to our present temporal need, or to our spiritual condition. One needs one thing, another another. And this benediction is for each according to the want of each. That from Christ which will truly gladden and give joy to each one is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to that one.
III. ITS APPARENT CONTRADICTIONS. For though "grace" means that which brings joy, it does not always appear so. At the time it may seem not at all "joyous, but grievous." It is often disguised so that we do not know it. Christ's grace in the form of earthly good comes to us frequently by strange ways, and in strange and often repelling aspect. And yet more in regard to spiritual good. Newton, in one of his hymns, say -
"I asked the Lord that I might grow "I hoped that in some favoured hour, "Instead of this, he made me feel "'Tis in this way,' the Lord replied, IV. ITS BENEDICTION. The blessed Scriptures, and the holy apostle who wrote this closing book, bid us farewell with this blessing pronounced upon us. Are we willing to receive it? Do we not need it: you, yet unsaved; you, weak, feeble, halting in the Christian way; you, tempted and sore beset; you, drawing near to death; you, weighed down with sorrow and care? Yes, you do need it; nothing can compensate for it, though the world and sin and the wicked one are busy with their suggestions that you can do without it. And it waits for you. The apostles who first uttered it invoke it on us now. Let our hearts respond, "Amen." - S.C.
"I hoped that in some favoured hour, "Instead of this, he made me feel "'Tis in this way,' the Lord replied, IV. ITS BENEDICTION. The blessed Scriptures, and the holy apostle who wrote this closing book, bid us farewell with this blessing pronounced upon us. Are we willing to receive it? Do we not need it: you, yet unsaved; you, weak, feeble, halting in the Christian way; you, tempted and sore beset; you, drawing near to death; you, weighed down with sorrow and care? Yes, you do need it; nothing can compensate for it, though the world and sin and the wicked one are busy with their suggestions that you can do without it. And it waits for you. The apostles who first uttered it invoke it on us now. Let our hearts respond, "Amen." - S.C.
"Instead of this, he made me feel "'Tis in this way,' the Lord replied, IV. ITS BENEDICTION. The blessed Scriptures, and the holy apostle who wrote this closing book, bid us farewell with this blessing pronounced upon us. Are we willing to receive it? Do we not need it: you, yet unsaved; you, weak, feeble, halting in the Christian way; you, tempted and sore beset; you, drawing near to death; you, weighed down with sorrow and care? Yes, you do need it; nothing can compensate for it, though the world and sin and the wicked one are busy with their suggestions that you can do without it. And it waits for you. The apostles who first uttered it invoke it on us now. Let our hearts respond, "Amen." - S.C.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all
(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)Matthew 4:6): — Just as Christ, in His ascension, was taken from them whilst His hands were lifted up in the act of blessing, so it is fitting that the revelation of which He is the centre and the theme should part from us as He did, shedding with its final words the dew of benediction on our upturned heads.
I. THE APPARENT CONTRAST AND THE REAL HARMONY AND UNITY OF THESE TWO TEXTS. "Lest I come and smite the land with a curse." If instead of the word "curse" we were to substitute the word "destruction," we should get the true idea of the passage. And the thought that I want to insist upon is this, that here we have distinctly gathered up the whole spirit of milleniums of Divine revelation, all of which declare this one thing, that as certainly as there is a God, every transgression and disobedience receives, and must receive, its just recompense of reward. That is the spirit of law, for law has nothing to say, except, "Do this, and thou shalt live; do not this, and thou shalt die." And then turn to the other. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." What has become of the thunder? All melted into dewy rain of love and pity and compassion. Grace is love that stoops; grace is love that foregoes its claims, and forgives sins against itself. Grace is love that imparts, and this grace, thus stooping, thus pardoning, thus bestowing, is a universal gift. So there is a very real and significant contrast. "I come and smite the earth with a curse" sounds strangely unlike "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." So I want you to notice that beneath this apparent contrast there is a real harmony, and that these two utterances, though they seem to be so diverse, are quite consistent at bottom, and must both be taken into account if we would grasp the whole truth. For, as a matter of fact, nowhere are there more tender utterances and sweeter revelations of a Divine mercy than in that ancient law with its attendant prophets. And, as a matter of fact, nowhere, through all the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai, are there such solemn words of retribution as dropped from the lips of the Incarnate Love. There is nothing anywhere so dreadful as Christ's own words about what comes, and must come, to sinful men.
II. THE RELATION OF THE GRACE TO THE PUNISHMENT. Is it not love which proclaims judgment? Are not the words of my first text, if you take them all, merciful, however they wear a surface of threatening? "Lest I come." Then He speaks that He may not come, and declares the issue of sin in order that that issue may never need to be experienced by us that listen to Him. It is love that threatens; it is mercy to tell us that the wrath will come. And just as one relation between the grace and the retribution is that the proclamation of the retribution is the work of the grace, so there is another relation — the grace is manifested in bearing the punishment, and in bearing it away by bearing it. He has come between every one of us, if we will, and that certain incidence of retribution for our evil, taking upon Himself the whole burden of our sin and of our guilt, and bearing that awful death which consists not in the mere dissolution of the tie between soul and body, but in the separation of the conscious spirit from God, in order that we may stand peaceful, serene, untouched, when the hail and the fire of the Divine judgment are falling from the heavens and running along the earth. The grace depends for all our conceptions of its glory, its tenderness, and its depth on our estimate of the wrath from which it delivers.
III. THE ALTERNATIVE which these texts open for us. You must have either the destruction or the grace. And, more wonderful still, the same coming of the same Lord will be to one man the destruction, and to another the manifestation and reception of His perfect grace. As it was in the Lord's first coming, "He is set for the rise and the fall of many in Israel." The same heat softens some substances and bakes others into hardness. The same gospel is "a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death," by the giving forth of the same influences killing the one and reviving the other; the same Christ is a Stone to build upon or a Stone of stumbling; and when He cometh at the last, Prince, King, Judge, to you and me, His coming shall be prepared as the morning; and ye "shall have a song as in the night as when one cometh with a pipe to the mountain of the Lord"; or else it shall be a day of darkness and not of light.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(Wm. Souper, M. A.)
I. WHAT IS THIS GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST? Free love! Divine favour, unbought, unsolicited, and undeserved! Return to your Father's house, and be blest! Come, and be forgiven! Look, and be saved! Touch, and be healed! Ask, and it shall be given!
II. HOW IT HAS BEEN SHOWN. In many ways, but chiefly in the Cross. The words of Christ were grace; the doings of Christ were grace; but at the Cross it came forth most fully. The "it is finished" of Golgotha was the throwing down of the barriers that stood between the sinner and the grace. The grace itself was uncreated and eternal; it did not originate in the purpose, but in the nature of God. Still its outflow to sinners was hemmed in by righteousness; and until this was satisfied at the Cross the grace was like forbidden fruit to man. Divine displeasure against sin and Divine love of holiness found their complete satisfaction at the altar, where the "consuming fire" devoured the great burnt-offering, and gave full vent to the pent-up stores of grace.
III. HOW WE GET IT. Simply by taking it as it is, and as we are; by letting it flow into us; by believing God's testimony con-earning it. Grace supposes no preparation whatsoever in him who receives it, save that of worthlessness and guilt, whether these be felt or unfelt. The dryness of the ground is that which fits it for the rain; the poverty of the beggar is that which fits him for the aims; so the sin of the sinner is that which fits him for the grace of Christ. If anything else were needed, grace would be no more grace, but would become work or merit. Where sin abounds there it is that grace much more abounds.
IV. WHAT IT DOES FOR US.
1. It pardons.
2. It pacifies.
3. It liberates.
4. It enlightens.
5. It strengthens.
6. It purifies.
V. HOW LONG IT LASTS: For ever.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
I. CONSIDER THIS BENEDICTION.
1. What is this which John desires? The word is "charis." It has for its root "joy." There is joy at the bottom of charis, or grace. It also signifieth favour, kindliness, and especially love. Jesus Christ Himself is generally mentioned in our benedictions as having grace, and the Father as having love; and our usual benediction begins with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God. Is that the proper order? The order is correct to our experience, and in an instructive benediction the Holy Spirit intendeth this for our learning. The Father's love is, as it were, the secret, mysterious germ of everything. That same love in Jesus Christ is grace; His is love in its active form, love descending to earth, love wearing human nature, love paying the great ransom price, love ascending, love sitting and waiting, love pleading, love soon to come with power and glory. This grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the grace of a Divine person. We wish you, as we for ourselves, the grace of God Himself, rich, boundless, unfathomable, immutable, Divine; no temporary grace such as some speak of, which keepeth not its own, but suffereth even the sheep of its own pasture to go astray and perish; but the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it is written, "Having loved His Own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end"; that grace most potent which said, "None shall pluck them out of My hand." This is no small treasure — this grace of a Divine Person. Yet is our Lord Jesus also human, as truly human as He is Divine, and, believing in Him, you have the grace of Jesus Christ the Man to be with you all. May you feel His tenderness, His brotherliness, His grace. He is your Kinsman, and He graciously favours His own kinsfolk. Read the text again, and pause a while in the middle to enjoy "The grace of our Lord." The grace that cometh from His Majesty, the grace that cometh from His Headship, the grace that cometh from His Divinely human supremacy over His Church, which is His body — this is the grace which we desire for you all. Read the next word: "The grace of our Lord Jesus." May that be with you; that is to say, the grace of our Saviour, for that is the meaning of the word "Jesus." All His saving grace, all that which redeems from guilt, from sin, from trouble, all that which saves us with an everlasting salvation — may that be yours to the full. Then comes the other word, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you"; may He, as the Anointed One, visit you. May you have that anointing from the Holy One which shall make you know all things.
2. Our next division is, How? "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." What meaneth this? Our first answer is the wish that the grace of our Lord may rest upon you as a matter of fact — that He may love you truly and intensely; love you, not only as He loves the world, but as He loved His own which were in the world. Next, may you believe that grace, may you trust that grace, may it be with you because your faith has closed in with it, and you are relying upon it. Still further, may His grace be with you as the object of faith, so that your belief comes to be full assurance, till you know the love which Christ hath towards you, and no more doubt it than you doubt the love of the dearest friend you have on earth. And may His grace be with you, next, as to the favours which flow out of it. May you enjoy all the blessings which the grace of Christ can yield, the grace of a peaceful conscience, the grace of a cleansed walk, the grace of access to God, the grace of fervent love, the grace of holy expectancy, the grace of self-denial, the grace of perfect consecration, and the grace of final perseverance. And may grace be with us, next, so as to produce constant communion between us and Christ, His favour flowing into our heart, and our hearts returning their gratitude. Oh, to come to this pass, that our Well-beloved is with us, and we enjoy sweet mutual intercourse: this is to have the love, or grace, of Jesus with us. May our Lord Jesus Christ thus in His grace be with us, and may He work for us all that He can work. What better benediction could John Himself utter?
3. But, now, the third part of our discourse comes under the head of "to whom." "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Every now and then you come across a book written by one who is a long way off from understanding all the truth, yet he knows Jesus Christ, and as you read the sweet words that come from His pen concerning the Master you feel your heart knit to Him. If a man knows Christ he knows the most important of matters, and is possessed of secret quite as precious as any in our own keeping, for what know we more than Christ, and what hope have we but in Christ? There is a life which is the same in all that have it, however diverse they may happen to be upon opinion or outward ceremony. There is a life eternal, and that life is Christ Jesus, and to all that have that life we do with intensity of heart say, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all."
II. THE POSITION OF THIS BENEDICTION. First, I draw what I have to say from the fact that it is the last word of Scripture. I regard it, therefore, as being the apostle's last and highest wish. We cannot do with less than this, and we do not want more than this. If we get grace from Jesus we shall have glory with Jesus, but without it we are without hope. Standing at the end of the Book of Revelation as this does, I next regard its position as indicating what we shall want till the end comes; that is, from now till the descent of our Lord in His second advent. This is the one thing we require, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." May it be with us daily, hourly! May it be with us, instructing us as to our behaviour in each generation! Placed as this blessing is at the end of the book there is but this one more thought — this is what we shall wish for when the end cometh. We shall come to the end of life, as we come to the end of our Bibles. And oh, aged friend, may thy failing eyes be cheered with the sight of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the last page of life, as thou wilt find it on the last page of thy well-thumbed Bible. Peradventure some of you may come to the last page of life before you get grace: I pray that there you may find it. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Or, suppose we should not die; suppose the Lord should suddenly come in His temple. Oh, then may we have grace to meet Him.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(G. Whitefield, M. A.)I. THE LAST TESTIMONY. The whole Bible is the testimony; for in it Christ is both the Teacher and the Lesson, the Witness and the Testimony. But the Revelation is His last testimony; and the marvellous words of the latter part of this chapter are more especially so. Let the Church listen; let the world give heed.
II. THE LAST PROPHECY. "Surely I come quickly." Brief but distinct is this announcement; and it comes from His own lips. He heralds Himself and His kingdom. He puts the trumpet to His own mouth to sound abroad this last message, "I come!" I who came, and departed, am coming again. "I come quickly." Here is something more. He will lose no time; nor delay a moment longer than is absolutely necessary. He will not be slack concerning His promise (2 Peter 3:9); He will come and not tarry (Hebrews 10:37). "Surely I come quickly." Appearances may indicate no such thing; the world's sky may be cloudless, and its sea smooth; men may have assured themselves of prosperous days, and be saying, "Peace and safety"; yet surely He cometh! As a snare, as a thief, as lightning, He cometh. He, the very Christ, the risen Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth — He cometh! In His own glory, in His Father's glory, with His mighty angels, in the clouds of heaven, King and Judge, Conqueror and Avenger, Redresser of wrongs, Opener of prison-doors, Binder of Satan, Renewer of creation, Bridegroom of His Church, Star of Jacob, Sun of Righteousness, Owner of the golden sceptre, Wielder of the iron rod, Wearer of the crowns of earth — He cometh!
III. THE LAST PRAYER — "Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus"; or more literally, "Yes, surely, come, Lord Jesus"; for the words the apostle here uses, in his response, are the same as those used by Christ in His announcement; as if he caught up the Master's words and echoed them. Thus gladly and fervently does the Church respond to the promise; as one who felt the blank created by the Lord's absence, and welcomed with her whole heart the intimation of His return. This is the summing-up of her petitions, as was the seventy-second Psalm the filling up of all David's prayers (Psalm 72:20). Are our hearts, like hers, thus beating toward the Beloved One? Is this the burden of our prayers?
IV. THE LAST BLESSING. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all." Earthly, human love, is of all things here the most fitted to gladden; how much more, then, that which is heavenly and Divine!
V. THE LAST AMEN. This is not an amen to this chapter only, or this book only; but to the whole Bible, of which the burden, from Genesis to Revelation, is Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman. It is an amen to the prayer for the grace of Christ; it is an amen to the sigh for the Lord's appearing. It is an amen to the prophetic announcement of all the glorious and all the terrible things written in this book. It is the concentrated utterance of the Church's longings; her glad response to all that God has spoken; the subscription of her name to her belief in all that the Holy Spirit has written; the summing-up of her unutterable groan. How much does this amen comprise! Faith, hope, and love are in it; and, with these, such a boundless satisfaction of spirit as can only get vent to itself in that one brief word, which sums up all the aspirations of its joy, "Amen and amen!"
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
I. THERE IS THE AMEN OF IGNORANCE. Simple and common as the word is, thousands use it without knowing what it means, or what they themselves intend. It is to them a word, no more; a concluding word or sound, where the voice ceases, and after which the eyes are opened, and the hands unclasped! Are your Amens of this kind? or are they uttered with the understanding — the full realisation of the large and solemn meaning which they contain?
II. THE AMEN OF HABIT. All are not ignorant of its significance. Ask many what they intend by affixing it to their prayers, and at once they will tell you. Yet mark them, and you will find the word slipping from their tongue without any corresponding thought as to its sense. Are your Amens those of habit — pieces of ornament, the useless appendages of useless devotion — or is your soul thrown into them? Are they the essence of your previous petitions-the concentration and summing-up of all your desires?
III. THE AMEN OF UNBELIEF. It seems strange that a word like this should ever be uttered in unbelief; yet such is the case. Nay, sometimes it would seem as if the most unbelieving part of our prayer is that which should be the most believing — the Amen. We may well wonder how it should be so. It seems almost incredible that a word like this, meant to be associated with faithfulness, and truth, and certainty, should be connected with unbelief, nay, should be the utterance of unbelief — the frequent, the daily utterance of unbelief; yet so it is. Our unbelieving Amens are about the most melancholy parts of our prayers — the worst indications of distrust in- God.
IV. THE AMEN OF FAITH. This is the true Amen; the Amen of souls who have heard the gracious words of Him who cannot lie, and who act upon these. But why should Amen be thus linked with faith? Because that which calls it forth is not simply a desirable thing, but a truth and a certainty. It has to do with such things as the following:
1. The free love of God. In every prayer we keep our eye on this; for without the recognition of this grace, this abundant grace, what would prayer be?
2. The truthfulness of God. God is true — truthful, faithful; we will not make Him a liar in any one thing, in any of our communications with Him-least of all in our prayers.
3. The power of God. What He has promised He is able also to perform. He is able to do for us exceeding abundantly, above all we ask. In addition to these things, to which the faith of our Amens attaches itself, we would only further say that it specially leans upon the Cross of Christ in connection with these three. It is round that Cross that this faith flings its arms; if is here that it sits down in quiet satisfaction.
V. THE AMEN OF HOPE. We say, "Hallowed be Thy name," and we add the Amen of hope; "Thy kingdom come," and we add the Amen of hope; "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," and we add the Amen of hope. We hear the Lord's own voice from heaven saying, "Surely I come quickly," and we add with the apostle: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen!" Each time we utter the Amen in connection with these blessed futurities, does our hope kindle up anew — the hope calling up the Amen, and the Amen making the hope to shine out with fresh brightness? In anticipating such a future, how can we utter a cold, heartless, passive, or despairing Amen?
VI. THE AMEN OF JOY. It is the joy of conscious pardon; the joy of friendship with God; the joy of adoption and heirship; the joy of our whole new created being; the joy because of the blessedness in prospect. Past, present, and future — all furnish us with materials for joy. And in our thanksgivings for the past, we breathe out an Amen of joy; in our consciousness of present peace and heavenly favour, we repeat our Amen of joy; in our pleadings for larger blessing to ourselves and to our world, we say Amen with gladness; and in our pressing forward to the mark for the prize of our high calling, looking for and hastening to the coming of the day of God, we say Amen and Amen with ever-deepening joy of heart.
(H. Bonar, D. D.).
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