For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,…
The grace of God is the prime mover in the work of salvation. It "bringeth salvation." Man had nothing to pay for it, and man could not merit it.
I. BUT IN WHAT RESPECTS DOES THE GRACE OF GOD BRING SALVATION? Here we remark generally, that it brought it forward in the decree from everlasting. Again, the grace of God brought salvation forward another stage, by publishing the promise of it to man after his ruinous fall. This promise was to be the ground of man's faith and hope in God; and these graces were necessary for giving sinners an interest in the Divine salvation. The grace of God advanced salvation work still further when it brought the First-begotten into the world. It was on this occasion that it was purchased. To gain it, Christ had to sustain the rejections of men, the malice and wrath of evil spirits, and the wrath of His heavenly Father. No less conspicuous is the grace of God in applying to the soul the benefits of purchased redemption. It is not when persons have ceased from the love and commission of sin, that the Holy Spirit comes with power to call them effectually, and to unite them to the Lord Jesus Christ. No; He addresses Himself to His work when sinners are dead in trespasses and in sins — alienated from the life of God — without God and without hope in the world. But there is still another stage of the grace of God that bringeth salvation, and it is the time when Christ will raise His people from the dead, and make them sit visibly as they now sit representatively in heavenly places with Himself.
II. We shall now turn your attention to THE NATURE OF THE SALVATION WHICH THE GRACE OF GOD THUS BRINGS TO SINNERS. And here you will notice in general that the term salvation implies a state of danger, or of actual immersion in suffering; and denotes the averting of the danger, or the deliverance from the suffering. We say of a man who has been delivered from a house on fire, that he has been saved. We also assert of him who has been drawn from a shipwreck and brought in life to land, that he has been saved, And in like manner, we affirm in regard to the man who has been set free from transgression and its train of consequences, that he has obtained salvation. More particularly, you will observe —
1. That it is a salvation from the guilt of sin.
2. It includes deliverance from the defilement of sin.
3. Deliverance from the power of sin.
4. Deliverance from the very being of sin.
5. Liberation from the curse of God.
6. Freedom from the wrath of God.
III. We have thus given you an outline of the salvation spoken of in the text, WE SHALL NOW INQUIRE IN WHAT RESPECTS IT APPEARS TO ALL MEN. There is one class of persons to whom salvation does more than appear; for they shall enjoy it in all its length and breadth. The chosen of God shall be set free from the guilt, the power, and being of sin, and redeemed from the wrath and curse of God. But there are some respects in which the salvation which they enjoy, presents itself to the view of others, who trover come to the actual enjoyment of its precious blessings.
1. The grace that bringeth salvation appears to all, because time and space are given them for seeking and obtaining it.
2. The grace of salvation appears to all in the inspired Word and appointed ordinances.
3. The grace of salvation appears to all, inasmuch as mercy is offered to them with out distinction.
4. The grace that bringeth salvation appears to all, in the common operations of the Holy Spirit. From our subject see —
(1) Ground for accepting the salvation of the gospel.
(2) Learn reason to fear lest we should not enter the heavenly rest through unbelief.
(3) Ground of gratitude on the part of the people of God. They are distinguished above the rest of mankind. While salvation appears to others, it is possessed and enjoyed by them. We now propose —
IV. TO INQUIRE INTO WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERMS "ALL MEN." As to the import of the terms "all men," you will observe —
1. That they cannot mean every individual of our race. It is matter of fact that many, both in the days of the apostles were, and in our own time are, wholly unenlightened by the good news of salvation.
2. The grace of God appears to men of all countries. This is no contradiction of what we formerly said; for although salvation has not yet been shown to all the individuals of our race, yet some of almost every kingdom under heaven have been made acquainted with the gospel of God's Son; and it is matter of promise that all the ends of the earth shall yet see the salvation of our God.
3. The grace of God appears to all kinds of men. None are excluded from it who do not exclude them selves. It is presented to persons of all ages and all ranks, to men of every kind of culture and attainment. Nor does the gospel inquire into a man's character, in order to discover whether he is entitled to salvation. Grace is offered to the moral and immoral — to the virtuous and the vicious.
V. WE ARE NOW TO INVESTIGATE THE RESPECTS IN WHICH THE GRACE OF GOD APPEARS TO MEN IN GENERAL. Our text does not assert that the grace of God is enjoyed by all, but only that it appears to them. They behold in somewhat the same manner as Balaam said he would see the star that was to arise out of Judah: "I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not nigh." It is but a distant sight that the unregenerate obtain of the grace of salvation. It appears to them as a beauteous and glowing star in the remote horizon, which they may admire, but do not reach.
1. Time and space are given them for accepting salvation.
2. The grace of God appears to men in general in their enjoyment of Divine ordinances. Ordinances are the appointed means of salvation. They are not effectual of themselves to the communication of saving benefit; but they are the medium through which spiritual blessings are im parted.
3. The grace of God appears to all in the offer of salvation to every individual.
4. The grace of God appears to men in general in the common operations of the Spirit.
5. The grace of God appears to men in general in the impressions of Divine truth upon the heart.
(1) What a great privilege is possessed by the hearers of the gospel.
(2) Reason for great anxiety. Look after the evidences of your real Christianity.
(A. Ross, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,