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. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE GRACE OF GOD? The doctrine of the gospel (Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:6; Acts 20:32; Titus 2:11). And it is so-called because —
1. It is graciously, and out of the free favour of God, bestowed.
2. Its subject-matter is grace. Whatever saving benefit is contained in the gospel, is all from grace.
(1) Forgiveness of sin (Ephesians 1:7).
(2) Eternal life (Romans 6:23).
(3) Calling (2 Timothy 1:9).
(4) Faith (Philippians 1:29).
(5) Repentance (2 Timothy 2:25).
3. It is the instrument, under the Spirit of God, of bestowing the benefits of free grace upon us. It is an invitation to the benefits of free grace, and it is our warrant of receiving those benefits, and of applying them.
II. THE RECEIVING THEREOF IN VAIN. The word signifies to receive it "emptily, unfruitfully, unprofitably." The gospel cannot save us unless it be received; and therefore you read of receiving it (Matthew 13:23; Acts 2:41; Acts 11:1; Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). But the gospel may be received ineffectually.
1. In regard of the manner of receiving. When we receive it —
(1) Not with an empty hand. When it is not so received as to be empty of the opinion of our own works and righteousness (Luke 1:53).
(2) Not with the highest estimation. When it is not looked upon to be "worthy of all acceptation" (1 Timothy 1:15); when it is not received as a pearl of greatest price. If all be not sold for it, soon will it be left for any thing.
(3) Not with the greatest ardency of desire.
(4) Not with a particular fiducial application of Christ, but only by a general assent — i.e., when we receive it into our heads by light, but do not receive it into our hearts by faith. When we receive it only into our ears, lips, and professions; but do not receive it in the soul.
2. In regard of the issue.
(1) When it is not received so as to purify the heart; when men will have an angelical gospel, but will live diabolical lives.
(2) When it doth not quicken us to new obedience. When there is a receiving without returning; when there is no "delight in the law of God;" "when faith is not made incarnate," as Luther speaks, "by maintaining good works" (Titus 3:8).
(3) When we so receive grace as that it doth not sustain us in our troubles, nor bear us up in our sufferings. When it is not a "word of patience" (Revelation 3:10).
(4) When we so receive grace as not to impart it, and communicate it unto others. If we be living we shall be lively Christians; if we have the life of grace in us, we shall warm others. If we do no good, it is a sign we have got no good.
(5) When it is so received as that thereby we do not obtain salvation. "The gospel of salvation," received into your houses, heads, or mouths, brings not any to heaven (Matthew 7:23).
(W. Jenkin, A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.