May 2, 2010

2 Corinthians 6:1 - John Gill

2 Corinthians 6:1.
We therefore, as workers together with him; beseech you also, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

This scripture usually stands[1] among the proofs of the saints’ defectibility or apostasy, from whence it is concluded, that a man may receive the true grace of God in regeneration in vain, which may become useless and of no avail, may be lost, and he himself everlastingly perish. But,

1. We are not to understand by the grace of God, that grace which is implanted in the souls of men at the time of their regeneration, for that cannot be received in vain; it always produces its proper fruit and designed effect; it begins, carries on, and finishes the work of sanctification; it is an immortal, incorruptible, never-dying seed; it cannot be lost in any part or branch of it; it is a well of living water springing up unto everlasting life; it is closely and inseparably connected with eternal glory; to all those to whom God gives grace he gives glory; whom he calls and justifies, them he also glorifies.

2. The grace of God is sometimes to be understood of gifts of grace, and particularly such as qualify men for the work of the ministry, in which sense it is used by the apostle Paul, in Romans 1:5, and Romans 12:6; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Corinthians 15:10; of which he had a large measure; nor was the grace which was bestowed on him in vain, seeing he labored more abundantly than all the rest of the apostles. And it will appear reasonable to take the phrase in the same sense here, if we consider the words as they stand in connection with the latter part of the preceding chapter, and some following verses in this, after this manner; seeing the word and ministry of reconciliation is committed to us, and we are ambassadors for Christ; we not only pray you, the members of the church at Corinth, to be reconciled to the order of the Gospel, and the laws of Christ in his house, but as workers together, (not, with him, that is, God or Christ, which is not in the text,) as fellow-laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, as jointly concerned in the same embassy of peace; we beseech you also, the ministers of the word in this church, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain; that is, that you be careful that the gifts bestowed on you do not lie neglected and useless, but that you use and improve them to the advantage, of the church and glory of Christ, by giving up yourselves to study, meditation, and prayer, and by laboring constantly in the word and doctrine; and also, that you have a strict regard to your lives and conversations, giving no offense in any thing, laying no stumbling-block in the way of such you are concerned with, that the ministry be not blamed, verse 3 (for verse 2 is included in a parenthesis), and then adds the apostles, but in all things approving, eautouV , yourselves as the ministers of God in much patience, etc.

3. The grace of God often designs the doctrine of grace, or the Gospel of the, grace of God, as in Titus 2:11, Hebrews 12:15; Jude 1:4; which may be truly so called, since it is a declaration of the love and grace of God to sinful men; it ascribes the whole of salvation to it, and is the means of implanting the grace of God in the hearts of his people in regeneration. Now the grace of God, in this sense, that is, the doctrine of grace, may be received in vain, so as that it may become useless, take no real effect, produce no real fruit; as was the ease of such who received seed by the way-side, into stony places, and among thorns; and is the case whenever it comes in word only; is received, not into the heart, but into the head only; when the life and conversation is not becoming it; and especially when it is abused to vile purposes, that is, when men turn this doctrine of the grace of God into lasciviousness; and when besides, they drop, deny, and fall off from those truths of the Gospel they have before professed; and since this too often is the case, an entreaty, an exhortation of this kind made to a visible church, consisting of real and nominal professors, cannot be improper, without supposing that true believers may fall from or lose the true grace of God in regeneration.

[1] Remonstr. In Coll. Hag. art. 5. p. 14, 78; Limborch, 1. 5, c. 83, sect. 1, p. 718; Whitby, p. 423, 461; ed. 2. 412, 441.

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