The Attributes of God
by Arthur Pink
The BOUNTIES of God
"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man—the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How often this passage is quoted only that far; how rarely are the words added, "But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit" (verse 10). Why is this? Is it because so few of God's people search out and enjoy what the Spirit has revealed in the Word about those things which God has prepared for those who love Him? If we were more occupied with . . .
God's riches, than with our poverty;
Christ's fullness, than our emptiness;
the divine bounties, than our leanness—
on what a different level of experience we would live!
We are much impressed by noting some of "the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). It is striking to note that our Christian life starts at a marriage feast (Luke 14:16-23; Matthew 22:2-10), just as Christ's first miracle was wrought at one (John 2). The word to us is, "Come, for all things are now ready" (Luke 14:17); "Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage feast" (Matthew 22:4). Observe the "I have prepared," agreeing with "the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Notice the "are ready," confirming "God has revealed them unto us" (1 Corinthians 2:10). Mark the "my dinner, my oxen and my fatlings," for "all things are of God" (2 Corinthians 5:18). The creature contributes nothing; all is provided for him. Finally, weigh the "come unto the marriage feast." The figure is very blessed; it speaks of joy, festivity, feasting.
He spread the banquet, made me eat.
Bid all my fears remove,
Yes, o'er my guilty, rebel head
He placed His banner—Love.
Practically the same figure is employed by Christ again in Luke 15. There He pictures the penitent prodigal welcomed home by the father. No sooner is he clothed and fitted for the house than the words go forth, "Bring the fattened calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry" (verse 23); and we are told "they began to be merry." In the parable, that merriment met with no reverse, since it is portrayed without a break and without a bound. Then we may conclude that this newborn joy ought to characterize all this festive scene—as truly so now, as soon it will be in glory.
A beautiful type of the lavish manner in which God bestows His bounties upon His people is found in Genesis 9:3, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." This was Jehovah's response to the "sweet savor" which He had just smelled. It is most important that we should note the connection, and perceive the ground on which God so freely bestowed "all things" upon the patriarch. At the close of Genesis 8 Noah built an altar unto the Lord, and presented burnt offerings. At the beginning of Genesis 9 we learn God's answer, which blessedly foreshadowed the unmeasured portion bestowed upon the new creation, the members of which have been blessed "with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
These blessings are based upon God's estimate of the value of Christ's sacrifice of Himself. The abiding worth of that sacrifice is immeasurable and illimitable: as immeasurable as the personal excellency of the Son, as illimitable as the Father's delight in Him. The nature and extent of those blessings, which accrue to God's elect on the ground of Christ's finished work, are intimated by the substantives and adjectives employed by the Holy Spirit when He describes the profuseness of the divine bounties already bestowed upon us, and which we shall enjoy forever!
Take first God's grace. Not only are we told of the "riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7), and of the "exceeding riches of His grace" (Ephesians 2:7), but also we read that it has "abounded unto many," and that we receive "abundance of grace," yes, that grace has super-abounded (Romans 5:15, 17, 20)—the limitless wealth of divine grace flowing forth and multiplying itself in its objects. The foundation or moving cause of this is found in John 1. When the only begotten Son became flesh and tabernacled here for a season, it was as One who was "full of grace and truth." Because we have been made joint heirs with Him it is written, "And of his fullness have all we received, and grace upon grace" (John 1:16).
Take again God's love. There has been neither reserve nor restraint in the outflow of His love to its loveless, unlovely objects. He has loved His people with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Wondrously He manifested it, for when the fullness of time was come, He sent forth His Son, born of a woman. Yes, He did so love the world as to give His only begotten Son, "that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Therefore we read of His "great love with which he loved us" (Ephesians 2:4). The Greek word translated "great" is rendered "plenteous" (Matthew 9:37), and "abundant" (1 Peter 1:3). Love unmeasured, which surpasses knowledge, fills our lives with its unceasing ministrations, ever active in priesthood and advocacy on high, how truly it is abundant love.
Our present theme is inexhaustible. Our Lord came here that His people "might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). This was first made good when Christ, as the Head of the new creation and the "beginning of the creation of God" (Revelation 3:14), breathed on His disciples, "Receive the Holy Spirit." It was the risen Savior communicating His resurrection life to His own (compare Genesis 2:7 for the beginning of the old creation). So too when that same One, who down here received the Spirit without measure (John 3:34), ascended on high as the glorified Man, He baptized His people in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). As the apostle Paul assures Gentile saints, "He shed on us abundantly" (Titus 3:6). Once more, he emphasized the profuseness of God's bounties.
Consider now His confidences. The Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his Lord does. But I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). There are things which the angels "desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12)—yet they have been made known to us by God's Spirit. What a word in Ephesians, "Wherein he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will" (Ephesians 1:8-9) This may be termed the abundance of His counsels.
Once more, consider the exercise and display of His power. Paul prayed that we might know, "the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 1:19-20). Here was the might of God working transcendently in an objective way; its correlative is recorded in Ephesians 3:20: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Clearly this is the highest putting forth of energy, working subjectively.
In such lavish measure God has blessed His people. As the apostle wrote to the Colossians concerning Him, "For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete [filled full] in him" (Colossians 2:9-10). But it is one thing to know, intellectually, of these bounties of God; it is quite another, by faith, to make them our own. It is one thing to be familiar with the letter of them; it is another to live in their power and be the personal expression of them.
What shall our response be to such divine munificence? Surely it is that "the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 4:15). Surely it is that we should "abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). It is only here that hope finds its sphere of exercise, since only in the saints will it receive full fruition.
If God speaks so uniformly of the varied character of our blessing—whether it be His grace, His love, His life imparted to us, His confidences, His power, His mercy (1 Peter 1:3 ff.)—as being so abundant, it must be because He wants to impress our hearts with the exuberance of the bounties He has bestowed on us. The practical effect of this on our souls should cause us to "rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:11), to draw out all that is within us in true worship, to fit us for a closer and deeper fellowship with Him. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).