2 Corinthians 6:1
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.
I. HOW THE GRACE OF GOD HAS BEEN MANIFESTED IN REVEALING UNTO MAN THE WHOLE COURSE OF THIS METHOD OF SALVATION. This is seen —
1. In the fact that the great God Himself speaks to men. It is grace that He should have anything to do with us. Why did He not, since we put out the light, leave man to grope his way in the dark? What a wonder that God should speak in this way to sinners.
2. In the suitability of the gospel to those to whom it is sent. Here we are vile; there is mercy for the vilest. How beautifully this suits the case of men!
3. In the way God has revealed His holy truth.
(1) By degrees. The great truths that are now taught you the world was not always ripe for. You don't get daylight coming in all its bright glory at once. The Lord gave the first glance of the light of the morning in that sweet promise about the seed of the woman.
(2) At first by types and symbols. When you teach children you don't often make use of abstractions, but you get pictures. Now the Book of Leviticus is God's object lesson of the gospel. Every lamb was a picture of that true Lamb, and every priest of that true Priest. That whole Temple service pointed to Calvary.
(3) By adapting it to different types of mind.
4. The revelation which God makes of Himself. Suppose you are standing over against some palace, and it is near midnight, and the gates are opened. Forth from that palace gates there comes a procession. The prince has come forth attended by many of his train. He has not gone far, however, before you hear that the prince has dropped a beautiful gem. He is anxious about that gem, not simply for its intrinsic value, but it was the gift of one he loved, and he calls for lights. Now, the light which falls on the road where that gem is lying goes up also into the face of the prince, and while he finds his gem you see him as you never would have seen him but for that loss. Now, it is like that with the revelation of God. When God came forth from the shrouding darkness that had been about Him in His own eternity, to the salvation of men, there was light which, while it was thrown on the poor, lost sinner that he might be found, was thrown upon the face of God, who came to seek him and to save him.
II. WHEN MAY WE BE SAID TO RECEIVE THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN? When men —
1. Do not believe it. Suppose that during the time of that Indian revolt I had been sent by Her Majesty with a commission — say to the Nana Sahib, and I had been told to proclaim to him that if the rebels would come and yield themselves up entirely to her mercy, she would entirely forgive them. But suppose that that fierce ringleader had said to me, "Ah, if they can only just get hold of me, I know what mercy they will give me; I know it is too far gone for that." Well now, he has to surrender in three months, or the law is to take its course. The time passes, and the man is captured, and he is brought to the gallows. Now, whose fault is that? You see he received the Queen's grace in vain. Now, it is like that when I come and tell you of God's readiness to pardon, and you won't believe it. You might as well expect a man to be fed by bread that he will not eat as expect a man to be saved by a gospel that he will not believe.
2. Despise it. Yonder there are a number of suffering poor, and of course some are of a very independent spirit. Now suppose I go to some pale, haggard man, and say to him, "Here is a ticket for you; if you will apply at yonder office you will get the relief you need," and the man says, "Sir, what right have you to talk to me as if I were a pauper? what right have you to suppose I want any man's charity?" That poor man is too proud to take help, and to-morrow he is dead on his cottage floor for want of food. Now, whose fault is that? He despises the grace that was offered! That is just how it is with many sinners. They will not have God's salvation because they cannot buy it. If they could take their little petty, paltry doings, and buy it with their deeds, they would have it. If they could go and purchase it, they would have it; but because they must have it as a gift they despise it.
3. Neglect it. Now suppose that there had been during the time of the great fire at Moscow some miserly wretch up at the top storey of some tall house. There is great trouble in the town, but all he cares about is his gold bags. The alarm bells are ringing in all directions, and everybody is trying to escape; but that old man never listens to the alarm bells, and while he is counting his cash the fire is creeping up the stairs from chamber to chamber till at last it is burning the very joists of the floor on which he stands. You see he neglected the alarm. That is very like the worldling. We go and tell him of danger and salvation. You know if you go and stand by a blacksmith's smithy and you talk to him, he is so busy with the sound of his hammers that he can't hear what you say, and he keeps on hammering in spite of all your remarks, and does not hear a word. So it is with the busy worldling. Busy with the din of their worldliness, they never seem to hear the message. They neglect the great salvation. They do not deny it, but they just leave it alone. Now if you neglect this great salvation you will perish.
Parallel VersesKJV: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.