Life-Study of Galatiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 2:21 Paul says, “I do not nullify the grace of God.” If we consider this verse in context, we see that to nullify the grace of God means that in our experience we do not have Christ living in us. In verse 20 Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Then he goes on to say that he does not nullify the grace of God. This is a strong indication that for us as believers to nullify the grace of God is for us to deny Christ the opportunity to live in us. The grace of God is simply the living Christ Himself. To allow Christ to live in us is to enjoy the grace of God. But not to allow Him to live in us is to nullify God’s grace.
It is important for us to find out the genuine and proper significance of the grace of God in the New Testament. In the Old Testament there is actually no mention of God’s grace. The word grace used in the Old Testament means favor. John 1:17 tells us that grace came with Jesus Christ. Before the incarnation of the Son of God, grace had not come. Grace came when the Lord Jesus came. Prior to that time, the law had been given through Moses. The promise of grace had also been made to Abraham; it was given before the law was. First, God gave the promise of grace to Abraham. Then, four hundred thirty years later, the law was given at Mount Sinai through Moses. Approximately another fifteen hundred years passed before grace came with Jesus Christ, with the incarnated Son of God.
According to John 1:1 and 14, the Word that was in the beginning with God and which was God became flesh and tabernacled among us, full of grace and reality. Verse 16 says, “For of His fullness we all received, and grace upon grace.” Since grace came with Jesus Christ, grace was not yet present in the Old Testament.
Now we must give a definition of grace. Grace is God in His Trinity processed through incarnation, human living, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to be everything to us. After passing through such a long process, the Triune God has become everything to us. He is our redemption, salvation, life, and sanctification. Having been processed to become the all-inclusive life-giving Spirit, the Triune God Himself is our grace.
If we would understand grace as revealed in the New Testament, we need a clear view of the New Testament as a whole. Grace is a matter of tremendous significance. To the Jews, the giving of the law through Moses was a great event. The fact that the coming of grace is contrasted with the giving of the law indicates that grace is greater than the law. As far as the Jews were concerned, apart from God Himself nothing was greater than the law. But John 1:17 indicates that grace is greater than the law. The law was given, but grace came.
According to the concept of many Christians, God’s grace is mainly a matter of material blessing. At the end of the year, some Christians gather together to count the blessings God has bestowed on them during that year and to thank Him for His great grace in sending these blessings. Then they proceed to thank the Lord for things such as a large home and new clothes. Such a concept of grace is much too poor! The Apostle Paul would count such things as dung, not as grace.
We have pointed out that, according to John 1:17, grace is greater than the law. Surely God Himself is higher than the law. However, if God remains objective to us, in our experience He will not be greater than the law. In order to be greater than the law to us, the Triune God must be subjective. Hence, in the New Testament, grace denotes the Triune God processed to become everything to us and to live in us. Nothing can surpass the living in us of the processed, all-inclusive life-giving Spirit.
We have pointed out that in 2:20 Paul says that he has been crucified with Christ and that Christ lives in him. Then in verse 21 he goes on to say that he does not nullify the grace of God. This indicates that the grace of God is the Son of God living in us. Certainly this is much greater than the law. The Son of God was incarnated not only to live on earth, to be crucified, to be resurrected, and to ascend into the heavens; He also came to live in us. This is grace.
To go back to the law is to reject this grace. It is to reject the very Son of God who now lives in us. This is to nullify the grace of God. However, if we remain in Christ, enjoying Him as everything to us, we do not nullify the grace of God.
All of Paul’s Epistles begin and end with a word about grace. This is also true of the book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:4 John writes to the seven churches which are in Asia, “Grace to you”; and in 22:21, he concludes with the words, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.” Paul closes the Epistle to the Galatians by saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers.” If grace were a matter of material blessing, how could grace be with our spirit? Grace is not physical or material; it is divine and spiritual. Actually, as we have pointed out emphatically, grace is God Himself in a subjective way to be everything for our enjoyment. I hope that all the saints could grasp this definition of grace in a clear way.
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