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Written by John R. Respess   


The Gospel Mesenger-April 1894

Behold I and the children which God hath given me.—Heb. ii.

In considering the relationship of Christ and his people, it is important to keep in view the fact that their relationship as children to Christ is a result of God’s grace. For while relationship is an essential point of the doctrine of grace, it is not the bottom doctrine, if I may so speak.

As I see it, God’s sovereign, discriminating and electing love of sinners (not children) to salvation, is what I would call the bottom doctrine of grace, or the one which underlies all other graces, and upon which they all rest.

It is from God’s election of sinners to salvation that their relationship to Christ as children springs; and from the same source flow Christ’s obedience, and all the works of the Spirit in them and for them. God no more chose his people to salvation because they were children prior to his choice, than he chose them because they were redeemed and regenerated before his choice of them. For their redemption from sin and regeneration to life, as well and equally with their relationship as children, are graces resulting from his electing love, and were never, at any time, the cause of his choosing them to salvation.

If God made choice of us because we were children, it would not have been by grace at all, but by and for relationship. For, to say that the salvation of sinners is by GRACE, is to exclude everything in the sinner that would induce it, either good or evil; for anything that would induce grace would destroy grace; that is, it could not be grace if there was anything in the sinner to induce it, or if he did anything to induce it. There was, we know, no good in the sinner to induce it; and evil, of which he was full, would only induce wrath. But neither good or evil in the sinner induced God’s election of him to salvation, the truth of which we have illustrated in the case of Jacob and Esau; “For the children not yet born, neither having done any good or evil,” and God chose Jacob of the two, and left Esau in the condition in which sin had involved them both. We know, therefore, that it was not because Jacob was more a child of God by nature than Esau was that God chose him, for both were by nature children of wrath, and one as evil as the other; and the difference, therefore, between them, was not one of nature, but one made by grace.

God, in his sovereign grace, took some of these fallen children of wrath and gave them to his only begotten Son, and they became Christ’s children by gift or grace and hence he said of them in the text, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” These children are a wonder indeed! They were Adam’s children and sinners, but by infinite grace they are lifted up from their fallen state, and made higher than ever Adam was, even in his best estate. For Adam at best was no more than a good creature of God; he was not a child of God, for to be a child; he must be begotten of and born of God. And had he have lived to this day, in the innocency in which he was created, he would not have become a child of God, but would, with his posterity, have remained only innocent creatures of God.

But by grace we shall get infinitely more by Christ than we ever lost by Adam; we shall be more than restored to Adam’s lost estate; for to save a sinner is more than to create even a good man; it is to make of these wicked and polluted sinners, sons of God; to exalt them far above all created beings, higher even than the angels of God, and make them heirs of God and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. To do this great work requires a putting forth of Divine power and love greater than in the creation of the universe; for it required the incarnation, humiliation, suffering and death of the only begotten Son of God. And we shall never in this life know the keen and bitter humiliation that Christ’s love for the children that God gave him, subjected him to, when it made him give up the glory of heaven and take upon him the flesh and blood of his people.

If the great king Ahasuerus showed the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the honor of his excellent majesty in feasting, at his own expense, his loyal subjects, how much more do the riches of God’s grace exceed it in glory in saving rebels and sinners at enmity to him at the cost of the humiliation, suffering and death of his only begotten Son.

If the love of Moses moved him to give up the honor and glory of the royal court and identify himself with the low estate of his brethren as slaves in Egypt, to deliver them from the temporary slavery of this short life, how infinitely more exalted was the love of Christ for his children that made him give up the glory and felicity of heaven and the holy presence of the Father, and take up his abode with sinners to be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief; to bear their sorrows and carry their griefs, and to be wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities. He was delivered into the hands of wicked men, and all his earthly friends forsook him and fled; he was stretched upon the cross between two thieves, and spikes driven through his feet and stretched out hands. His physical suffering was intense, but no human mind can measure the keen and inexpressible mental horror that possessed him when he realized that he was left under the awful wrath of the holy Father, so that he cried out as if in despair, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! It was so horrible that even nature stood appalled, and the sun-light fled from the sight, and the rocks, as if in sympathy burst asunder.

His soul was made an offering for sin; he was made to be sin—a sin offering—for his people for the express and specific purpose of making them the righteousness of God in him! Was his offering accepted of the Father! If so it accomplished the purpose for which it was made. It was accepted, for the Father raised him from the dead.

My space will not allow more now.—R

Last Updated ( Friday, 22 September 2006 )
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