From the list that the Lord has drawn, in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10, it is plain that there is nothing that can ever come into the life of the believer in Christ, but that the grace of God will take it and turn it to the good of the believer, and make it serve only to his advancement toward perfection in Christ Jesus. This the grace of God will do always, and nothing but this, if only the believer will allow the Lord to have His own way in his life; if only he will allow grace to reign. Thus it is that “all things are for your sakes;” and this is how “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28) This is grand. It is indeed glorious. It is salvation itself. This is how the believer is enabled “always” to “triumph in Christ.”
This, however, is but half the story. The Lord proposes not only to save him who now believes, but He will use him in ministering to all others the knowledge of God, that they also may believe. We are not to think that the Lord’s grace and gifts to us are only for us. They are for us first, that is true. But they are for us first, in order that not only we ourselves shall be saved, but that we may be enabled to benefit all others in communicating to them the knowledge of God. We ourselves must be partakers of salvation before we can lead others to it. Therefore it is written: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10) And “all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
Thus every man who receives the grace of God, at the same time receives with it the ministry of that grace to all others. Every one who finds himself reconciled to God, receives with that reconciliation the ministry of reconciliation to all others. Here also the exhortation applies, “We… beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 6:1) Are you partaker of grace? Then “minister the same” to others; do not receive it in vain. Are you reconciled to God? Then know that He has given to you also the ministry of reconciliation. Have you received this ministry in vain?
If we do not receive the grace of God in vain, if only we will allow grace to reign, the Lord will cause it to be that “in all things” we shall approve “ourselves as the ministers of God.” This is the truth. The Lord says it, and it is so. “In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God.” That is, in all things we shall be conveying to others the knowledge of God. And thus the Lord proposes not only to cause us always “to triumph in Christ,” on our own part, but also to make manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. That is, He proposes to make known to others by us, and in every place, the knowledge of Himself.
We cannot do this of ourselves. He is to do it by us. We are to cooperate with Him. We are to be workers together with Him. And when we do thus cooperate with Him, then as certainly as we do so, so certainly will He cause us always to triumph in Christ, and will also make manifest the knowledge of Himself by us in every place. He can do it; thank the Lord. Do not say, do not even think, that He cannot do this by you. He can do it by you. He will, too, if only you will not receive His grace in vain. If you will only let grace reign; if you will be worker together with Him.
It is true that there is mystery about how this can be. It is a mystery how God can make manifest the knowledge of Himself by such persons as you and I are, in any place, much less in every place. Yet mystery though it be, it is the very truth. But do we not believe the mystery of God? Assuredly we do believe it. Then never forget that the mystery of God is God manifest in the flesh. And you and I are flesh. Then the mystery of God is God manifest in you and me, who believe. Believe it.
Do not forget, either, that the mystery of God is not God manifest in sinless flesh, but God manifest in sinful flesh. There could never be any mystery about God’s manifesting Himself in sinless flesh—in one who had no connection whatever with sin. That would be plain enough. But that He can manifest Himself in flesh laden with sin and with all the tendencies to sin, such as ours is—that is a mystery. Yea, it is the mystery of God. And it is a glorious fact, thank the Lord! Believe it. And before all the world, and for the joy of every person in the world, in Jesus Christ He has demonstrated that this great mystery is indeed a fact in human experience. For “as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” (Hebrews 2:14) “In all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren.” (Hebrews 2:17) And therefore God “made him to be sin for us.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) He “hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) Thus, in our flesh, having our nature, laden with iniquity, and Himself made to be sin, Christ Jesus lived in this world, tempted in all points like as we are; and yet God always caused Him to triumph in Him, and made manifest the savor of His knowledge by Him in every place. Thus God was manifest in the flesh—in our flesh, in human flesh laden with sin—and made to be sin in itself, weak and tempted as ours is. And thus the mystery of God was made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith. O, believe it!
And this is the mystery of God today and forever—God manifest in the flesh, in human flesh, in flesh, laden with sin, tempted and tried. In this flesh God will make manifest the knowledge of Himself in every place where the believer is found. Believe it, and praise His holy name!
This is the mystery which today, in the third angel’ message is again to be made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith. This is the mystery of God, which in this time is to be “finished,”—not only finished in the sense of being ended to the world, but finished in the sense of being brought to completion in its grand work in the believer. This is the time when the mystery of God is to be finished in the sense that God is to be manifest in the flesh in every true believer, in every place where that believer shall be found. This is, in deed and in truth, the keeping of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
“Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) I have revealed God in the flesh. Our faith is the victory that has overcome the world. Therefore, and now, “Thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
(This article was first printed in the September 29, 1896 issue of The Review and Herald. It is also found on pages 100-103 of the book Lessons on Faith by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. Editor)