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If the need of man were the sole measure of the grace of God, then man only would be thought of, the work of the Lord Jesus would be simply for man, and the power of God expended merely in rescuing man and securing his relief. Man would be the object and end of it all, and not God.
Whenever the heart drops into its own thoughts, which is always the case when we are acting in the flesh and in our own strength, and not the Spirit, it will reduce grace to man’s level, making his benefit the exclusive object.
It will be said that the soul’s need must necessarily occupy it first. That is quite true. But he who is most relieved is most drawn to the One who has relieved him. The more intensely I have felt the need of relief, and the greatness of the favor conferred, the more I am attached to the Deliverer. He that is forgiven much, the same loves much (Luk 7:42, 47). If the only object of grace were to relieve man, then man could be relieved without nearness of God, and this is really the effect of confining the heart exclusively to the fact of relief and favor.
Too often, the believer being relieved from judgement, pursues his course as a man on earth with the sense of relief; but the Lord Jesus, the Man in heaven, may not be his object, nor his aim to represent and manifest Him here. The grace of God could never have limited itself to man’s need, seeing that the greatest thing the Father can confer is nearness to Himself. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18). That’s not just when we die, or at the Rapture, “but now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off are made near by the Blood of Christ” (Ep 2:13)!
If grace were only to relieve man of the misery which sin has brought in, he might be a vastly improved man, and a happy man; but then God would not and could not form any part of his happiness. He might feel indebted to Him for His mercy, but if grace effected nothing more than this he would not be brought to God, and though there might be joy in the sense of forgiveness, there would be no joy in God, no separation from the man in the flesh, no walking in the Spirit and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ in glory.
Many of those who minister the Word find it easier for their own consciences to confine their preaching and teaching to man’s need. We cannot present truth beyond our own experience with a good conscience. A servant has no real effect in presenting God’s side to souls, unless he be there in measure and purpose himself. He cannot go beyond his light, but when he has refused or avoided the light in order that he might retain the world, he excuses his own state by designating is as “too high,” and unusable for souls.
The one who is most for God will be most sustained by God; but the minister, in preaching or teaching, who will command the ear of men, and allow himself most of the world, is the man who confines himself to that which merely meets man’s need, and which the natural conscience will accept. So that broadly, popularity and a low level of truth, which will awaken sentiments of merely man-centered religion, always go together, and the riches of the grace of the risen Lord Jesus Christ are not really known because the glory of the grace has been neglected or refused.
- J B Stoney
Excerpt from MJS devotional for July 3: “Exhaustive effort brings home the necessity of strengthening rest. The believer will not be ready to enter into his spiritual rest until he is utterly worn out by his unsuccessful efforts to conquer sin and the old man. There is no rest for the “wretched man” of Romans 7—that struggle must lead to the rest of Romans 8.
“The heart of man naturally seeks rest, and seeks it here. Now, there is no rest to be found here for the believer; but it is written, ‘There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God’ (Heb 4:9).
“To know this is both full of blessing and full of sorrow: sorrow to the flesh; because it is always seeking its rest here, it has always to be disappointed; blessing to the spirit, because the spirit, being born of God, can only rest in God’s rest, as it is said, ‘If they shall enter into My rest’ (Heb. 4:5). What God desires for us is to bring us into the enjoyment of all that which He Himself enjoys.” -J.N.D.
("None But The Hungry Heart," by Miles J Stanford)