‘Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.’ John 17:2
Suggested Further Reading: Ephesians 5:21–33
You know that passage: ‘Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.’ How did he love the church? He loved the church with a special love, far above that which he gives to others, or else according to that metaphor a husband ought to love his wife and love every other woman just as much. That is the natural inference of that text; but you clearly see there must have been a special love intended in the husband towards the wife, and so there must be a special love in Christ. He loved the church and gave himself for it. Now do you not think, brethren, as there are two sets of texts in the Bible, the one of which very clearly speaks about the infinite value of the atonement (e.g. 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 2:2), and another which very evidently speaks about the intention of that atonement being for the chosen and for the chosen only (e.g. John 10:11; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 14:4), that the best way is to believe them both, and to say, ‘Yes, I see it—as the result of Christ’s death all men are put under the system of mediatorial grace so that Christ has power over them; but the object of his doing this is not that he may save all of them, but that he may save out of these all which he now has in his own hand—those whom the Father has given him.’ The farmer trusts me with all his sheep in order that I may sever from them twenty which he has marked. A father tells me to go into the midst of his family, his whole family, in order that I may take out of it one of his sons to be educated. So God gives to Christ all flesh, says the text, but still always with this definite and distinct purpose that he may give eternal life to those whom he has given to him.
For meditation: As ‘the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe’ (1 Timothy 4:10), God displays common grace to all people and special grace to his chosen people. Christians should likewise ‘do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith’ (Galatians 6:10).
Sermon no. 566
24 April (1864)