Endless, Bottomless, Boundless Grace and Compassion

Endless, Bottomless, Boundless Grace and Compassion

We cannot spread our sin further than He can spread His grace. To meditate on this, to taste the waters of such a pure fountain, is surely to know “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:9).

The New Testament’s most frequent, and indeed most basic, description of the believer is that he or she is a person “in Christ.” The expression and its variants overwhelmingly dominate the teaching of the Apostles. And one of the clues Scripture gives to help us understand what this means is to express our union with Christ in terms of what Owen calls “conjugal relations,” or, as we would say, “marriage.” Through the ministry of the Spirit and by faith, we become united to Christ, “one” with Christ, in the way a man and a woman “become one flesh” in the marriage bond. This picture, already present in the Old Testament, (Isa. 54:5; 61:10; 62:5; Ezek. 16:1–22; cf. the book of Hosea) comes to fulfillment in the New in the relationship between Christ and His church. Christ rejoiced in this prospect in eternity, and He has made it a reality in time, enduring the humiliation, pain, and anguish of the cross. Christ, in all His saving grace and personal attractiveness, is offered to us in the gospel. The Father brings to His Son the bride He has prepared for Him, and asks both parties if they will have each other—the Savior if He will have sinners to be His; sinners if they will embrace the Lord Jesus as their Savior, Husband, and Friend.

Like many of his contemporaries, Owen saw this spiritual union and communion between Christ and the believer foreshadowed and described in the Old Testament book the Song of Solomon. His exposition of the attractiveness of Christ to the Christian is heavily influenced by the descriptions of the Lover and the expressions of affection of the Beloved. Though his analysis was typical for his day, few commentators today would follow him in the details of his exegesis.

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