"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (1 Corinthians 9:27)
THERE were certain characters in the Church at Corinth who were constantly calling into question the apostleship of the writer of this very blessed and instructive epistle. We find throughout the two epistles to the Corinthian Church and the epistle to the Churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul says more concerning His apostleship than in all his other writings put together. The reason is plain. He was vindicating the commission he had received "not of men, neither by man," but directly from his risen and glorified Lord and Master. You see this in Galatians 1:11: "For I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man." He did not receive it from any formulary, article, or creed, nor according to vain notions of the Papists and Ritualists of the present day, from the apostolic fathers who were before him. But we see Paul tracing up his call and commission to the Great First Cause of all events, to the One Great Source of all revelation, and to the One Grand Fountain of truth and spiritual communication. He says: "For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Do you desire any spiritual and heavenly communications this morning? Well, as you look for it, long for it, and desire it, as you find in you a Divinely-wrought necessity that you must have it, the desire and the necessity both come from God through the Son of His love by the power of His blessed Spirit. Paul continues: "For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jew's religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it. But when it pleased God." Here you see the ground upon which he found a firm footing for his faith. He traced all his religion up to the Fountain--God. He acknowledged God's good pleasure and all-wise counsel in all things. "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb"--there is a separation for you, a work in which neither the apostle himself or any created being could claim a part--"and called me by His grace to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." Paul writes not of the manifestation of Christ to him, but of the revelation of God's Son in Him, which is the only true qualification a Gospel minister possesses. He knew full well that conferring with flesh and blood was fatal to the stability of a child of God, and so do I. There is God's Book, and the man who speaks according to the mind and will of God as revealed therein, who is brought into profound subjection to its truths by the guidance and grace of God the ever-blessed Spirit, has much to be thankful for. It is of God's mercy I know that, in standing before you as a preacher of truth, and in looking back to the spots where I have stood, there has been no confidence with flesh and blood. It is wholly of the grace of God that I am what I am, and where I am, and am often found at the feet of Jesus willing to do His bidding for the good of any of His brethren; but as for conferring with the flesh, or taking fleshly counsel, such not being in accordance with the Word, it can have no place in my mind as long as the Lord is graciously pleased so to teach me. "Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before me." What an independent character! Blessed with the assurance of God being by his side, Christ in his heart, and the Holy Ghost enlightening his understanding, that was sufficient for him, and he could get on very well without apostolic aid or interference. "But I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days." A man with such an independent spirit, and freed from all human shackles, may well expect to be the butt for many hellish shafts, and the subject of much defamation and slander. You may rest assured of this, when a man stands in the simplicity which is in Christ and in the power of the Holy Ghost, he will not be free from Satan's fiery darts, nor from the defamation of proud professors; but he can well afford to leave all these matters in His hand that judgeth righteously and wait patiently the result.
It is our privilege this morning to look at a portion of God's most Holy Word which may perplex some and frighten others. These may be ready to put forth their fleshly free-will hands to steady the ark of God's truth, which, according to their shortsighted view, is shaken. There may be some present who fancy that after all they have heard preached upon the everlasting security and eternal preservation of the Church of God, this one Scripture saps and mines the whole foundation of their faith. Well, it may be God's will to bring about a little clearing away of your doubts in respect to this glorious truth. May He send forth His Spirit-wind, which alone can chase away the fogs, the mists, and the clouds of ignorance and error which have darkened the minds of many of His tried and tempted children. In approaching this subject, I feel I have especially to deal with the elect, redeemed, and regenerate people of God. I hope to meet with the little ones in the family of God, the weaklings in the flock of Christ who long for establishment in the glorious things of God's Gospel. The portion before us has ofttimes been quoted and preached from for the purpose of refuting the truth of the eternal preservation of the Church in Christ Jesus. Mark the words. I do not say, the final perseverance of the saints, because there may be such an expression as this which is not at all Scriptural. Many of God's dear children are troubled with the impression that they have not persevered as they ought to have done, therefore they must set to work with the means at their disposal, read the Word, communicate with God's people, attend prayer meetings, and be diligent in the use of the so-called means of grace; but in these things they meet with many stumbling-blocks, failures, falls, and miserable disappointments. I remember the time when I thought I would read God's Word more diligently than ever before, communicate with the saints more frequently, pray without ceasing and more fervently, but I found all these to be as so many dry breasts, with no refreshment, consolation, or encouragement to my soul. Yet it has pleased God in His own way, set before us in the experiences of His saints, as recorded in the Scriptures, to bring me by a way that I knew not into a blessed knowledge of Himself, which must stand when all things else decay and fade away.
But I said, this portion has been quoted for the purpose of disproving the eternal preservation of the Church of God in Christ Jesus. Enemies of truth have manifested their enmity in such deceiving expressions as these: "You see, if so highly-favored a man as the apostle was afraid of becoming a castaway from God's presence, love, and salvation, how much more must we fear!" Mark well this specious deduction! If the apostle Paul doubted the certainty of the covenant verities he preached and taught, doubted whether he, with all the favors JEHOVAH had bestowed upon him, should ever stand before God with acceptance in glory, how much more should poor, weak mortals such as we, doubt, fear, and tremble! If the apostle admitted the possibility of a saint like himself becoming a reprobate character, an eternal castaway from JEHOVAH'S love and care, is this not sufficient proof that the eternal preservation of the children of God in Christ is only a human figment, and not a Divine fact? To this I at once answer, If such were the admission of the apostle, then I should admit the conclusion arrived at. But, I not only question the truthfulness of the conclusion, but I declare emphatically before God and His people that such a conclusion is a lie of Satan to deceive unstable souls and to perplex many of those for whom Christ died and whom He will most assuredly have at home in glory with Him. We will now look at this perplexing portion, and endeavor to find out whether the falling from grace theory is consistent--
I. With the Father's purpose of love.
II. With the Son's redemption of His people.
III. With the Spirit's power in the redeemed; and
IV. With the apostle Paul's experience and teaching.
I. IS THE FALLING FROM GRACE THEORY CONSISTENT WITH THE FATHER'S PURPOSE OF LOVE?
We will see. Let us look at those glorious declarations of grace given by the inspiration of the Spirit in Ephesians 1. Here we see that He purposed in Himself to have a people near to Himself, in whom He would be everlastingly glorified, and by whom He would be everlastingly worshipped and adored. In covenant before the worlds were formed, He set up His Son as the great and glorious Head of grace. To this Head the members were given, and to the members He gave the Head, who held Himself responsible for the eternal preservation, certain salvation, and everlasting security of the whole. To Christ the Head the Father communicated all the blessings of grace and glory with which the members should be endowed irrespective of any condition to be performed on their part. Every blessing freely given. You see this in the third verse: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him." In this we have the Father's purpose of love, even the whole election of grace blessed, chosen, holy, and without blame before Him in Christ the Head. "In love." Mark the punctuation! "In love having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself." Predestinated in eternity to the adoption in time, "according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved;" or, as it may be rendered, "graced us in the Beloved." We thus stand before Him in the person of our Head possessing every grace we need. Some of you are ready to say, We do not experience that! Ah! my dear friends, you never will experience all that until you stand with Christ in glory,
"Filled with the fulness of your God,
And lost in His embrace."
Look at that word: "Graced in the Beloved." The grace of love for all the elect, the grace of faith for all the redeemed, the grace of repentance for all His tempted ones, the grace of consolation for all mourners in Zion. It is a glorious fact to contemplate, that JEHOVAH in the riches of His grace, before the foundation of the world, had every grace treasured up for His children against the times of their sin, imperfections, infirmities, failures, and falls. This grace is like Himself, eternal, omnipotent, infinite, invincible, and indefectible. In it His elect people in Christ Jesus have full provision made against every emergency which Satan may suggest, every contingency he may present to their fears, and every perplexity they may experience. See how the apostle repeats this again and again: "Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of time He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him: in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." Why? "That we should be to the praise of His glory who first trusted in Christ." The Father in covenant trusted Christ with His honor, faithfulness, and glory. He trusted Him with the whole election of grace, with every blessing He designed for them to enjoy, and with all the glories of eternity which must be theirs after every toil, trial, and tribulation is past and gone for ever. Think for a moment upon this momentous question! If the good pleasure of the Father which He purposed in Himself, and the working of all things after the counsel of His own will should meet with failure, the very devils would rejoice, and hell be filled with exultation. If a redeemed one should suffer eternal destruction, Satan would taunt God with His want of foresight, wisdom, and power. If an elect vessel of mercy should fall from grace, all hell might well resound with its shouts of defiance and taunts against a God who so signally failed in the accomplishment of His purpose. But that can never be.
We now come to consider--
II. IS THE FALLING FROM GRACE THEORY CONSISTENT WITH THE SON'S REDEMPTION OF HIS PEOPLE?
The Son's honor was engaged to save with an everlasting salvation all that the Father gave unto Him. In the fullness of time, and all to display the Father's purpose and magnify His grace, all the given ones fell in Adam. Fell from what? From grace? Never. From the love and notice of Him who gave them to His Son? That is an utter impossibility. From what did they fall? From a state of earthly dignity, pleasure, and happiness, and intercourse with the God of creation and providence. But some of you may be ready to inquire, "What evidence can be given from Gen. 3 that Adam and his wife with the elect of God in his loins fell not from spiritual privileges conferred upon them in Christ?" This, that a seeking God is the glory of the whole of that chapter. When Adam fell, he was not set to the vain task of seeking that God whom he had so willfully forsaken; but the voice of the LORD God was heard walking in the garden in the cool of the day, calling to Adam, "Where art thou?" When he was found hiding behind the trees of the garden, God declared in his ears, and in the very teeth of the serpent, the glorious news of salvation by the Seed of the woman. In the very garden where sin was first committed, salvation was first revealed. God seeking! God finding! God saving! In many portions of this precious chapter we see God revealing His own glorious Gospel to His fallen Church and people. The woman's Seed should bruise the serpent's head, while the serpent should bruise the heel of the woman's Seed. O what marvelous truth we have in this bruising of the heel! First, we see the sufferings of Christ personal in His sacred humanity here upon earth. Second, we behold the sufferings of Christ mystical, in the temptations, trials, and tribulations experienced by the members of the one body during their earthly pilgrimage. This heel-bruising is in perfect accordance with the revelation of JEHOVAH'S covenant of redemption in Isa. 53. In reading that chapter just notice the change of persons occurring in the language. This shows that all the declarations are not those of the Father to the Son; but in one place the Father speaks to the Son, in another the Son to the Father, while in another the people of God speak of their interest in the sufferings endured and the salvation accomplished by the Surety of the covenant. Here we see glorious reciprocity and mutual interests between the Persons covenanting and those interested in their covenant engagements. Look at verse 10: "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed." When the Father should make the soul of Christ an offering for sin, then Christ should see His seed. "He shall prolong His days," in resurrection life and glory, "and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand." How? "All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me." (John 6:37) There you see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in the hand of a risen, exalted, and reigning Saviour. "He shall see the travail (the fruit) of His soul and shall be satisfied." A woman is in travail, her pangs are great, the child is born, it is dead! Is she satisfied? No, sorrow and disappointment fill her soul. Tell me! Has our great and glorious Surety travailed in soul, labored to bring to the birth, and all to have dead and damned souls to present to the Father? Never! If such could be the case, in the presence of the Father He could not stand. See! By His knowledge shall My righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities," to put them all away and make an end of every one of them. "Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." That last sentence will do for me. O what a mercy it is for me to know, and that by Divine revelation and spiritual communication, that those for whom Jesus intercedes before the throne are transgressors in their feelings, experiences, and confessions, and ever will be all through their wilderness journey. Jesus came, Jesus labored, Jesus suffered, Jesus died; but it was not possible for Him to be holden to death. "He prolonged His days" in rising again and entering into heaven's highest glory, where His intercession prevails in the power of these words, "I have glorified Thee on earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." (John 17:4) What did He give Him to do? He gave Him a people to save in Himself with an everlasting salvation. Having returned to the Father, He looks into His face without fear or hesitancy, and says, "Every one given to Me by Thee in covenant I have redeemed with My own blood from death, destruction, Satan, and sin, and eventually, when all Thy purposes of grace are fulfilled, I will present them all perfect and complete before Thee in glory." Listen to His commanding prayer: "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me: for Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world." (John 17:24) The pleasure of the Lord in the salvation of His elect cannot fail in the slightest particular while in the hand of Christ. Think of this. If it were possible for the purposes of the Father to fail in the hand of Christ, Satan and his crew would laugh at Him throughout eternity. Imagine, if you can, one for whom a precious Christ endured spiritual labor and pangs, one for whom our most glorious Christ shed His precious blood, one for whom He wrought out a perfect righteousness, failing to enjoy all these, and at last falling eternally into the clutches of the devil; why, Satan might then appear in the courts of heaven, look a disappointed Redeemer in the face, and with justice upbraid Him with losing one whom He agreed to keep, one for whom He paid so tremendous a price, one for whom He labored so hard and so long, one for whom He agonized in blood and sweat in gloomy, dark Gethsemane. But such as this can never be, O no; it is gloriously and irrevocably true, that all that the Father gave to Him shall come to Him, and not one of the given ones shall ever experience an eternal casting out, a casting off, or a casting away. (John 6:37)
III. IS THE FALLING FROM GRACE THEORY CONSISTENT WITH THE SPIRIT'S POWER IN THE REDEEMED?
It is our gracious privilege as sound, Scriptural, and spiritual Trinitarians to delight in a threefold cord which can never be broken. It is the threefold cord of covenant love. There is the Father's love in election, the Son's love in redemption, and the Spirit's love in regeneration. The love of the Divine Three is co-equal and co-eternal. The Spirit, who was the Witness to the covenant transactions of the Father and the Son, in the set time to favor Zion, quickens from death and delivers from the hands of the devil the objects of the Father's love and of the Saviour's affection. Now comes the question, Who is the stronger? Satan, or the Spirit? The devil, or the Holy Ghost? Blessed be God, He has not left Himself without witness: here you have it: "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1 John 4:4) A Stronger than the strong one comes and turns him out. He not only makes a clean sweep of the house, but He washes, cleanses, and purifies it. He purges it from all sin, all filth, all corruption, and all defilement. That is not like the devil leaving his house for a little while. There is a vast difference between the devil going out of his own house, and his being turned out of Christ's house. "Whose house are we." (Heb. 3:5) See! The great usurper must be driven out by God the eternal Spirit, and when he is once turned out, he can never take possession again. But when Satan walks out of his own house, he can walk in again in his own time. It is then he takes with him the perfection of devilry, even seven spirits more wicked than himself, and finds his house empty, swept, and garnished. There you have a beautiful picture of an free-willer, fleshly professor. Satan again takes possession of him, and the last state of that religious man, who gave his heart to the Lord(?) who closed in with the offers of mercy (?) who was as proud as the devil could make him because he thought he could help God to save himself, yes, the last state of that man is worse than the first. That is God's Word. The Holy Ghost in the work of regeneration and restoration can never be defeated. He is almighty to regenerate. He is omnipotent to finish the work He once begins. "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall put him to flight." (Isa. 59:19, margin) Now mark! if the power of the Holy Ghost should fail in the work of grace in the heart of a single redeemed sinner, Satan would still have opportunity throughout eternity to reproach the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with lack of foresight, wisdom, and power. But blessed be God, this can never be!
"Eternal, free, electing grace
Redemption's bound'ry sets;
And those whom Jesus died to save
The Spirit ne'er forgets."
We are now brought to consider--
IV. IS THE FALLING FROM GRACE THEORY CONSISTENT WITH THE APOSTLE PAUL'S EXPERIENCE AND TEACHING?
Here we will notice two views which are taken of the apostle's experience in connection with our text. Some say that he was full of doubts and fears as to his eternal safety, and believed in the possibility of a child of God falling from grace and becoming an eternal castaway. Others say, the apostle never had a doubt or fear from the moment of his regeneration to his death, in reference to his eternal salvation. Well, I do not believe either. I am confident that Paul believed and maintained the impossibility of elect souls perishing, and I am equally confident that he did not live without his doubts and fears. If he did, he was an extraordinary character, altogether different to those whose experiences God has given a place in His blessed Book. I do believe that Paul had his doubts, fears, cares, and anxieties. Look at 1 Cor. 2:3, "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." Now turn to 2 Cor. 1:8,9: "For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead." But one thing I wish to point out to you is this: in the declaration of the truth of our text Paul had not a doubt or uncertainty in his mind respecting his eternal safety, or that of the Church. Look at the context: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not a uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air." He was not fighting a phantom or running at random. Uncertainty or doubt in respect to his running and fighting entered not into his reckonings.
Let us look at the general course of the apostle's experience in these matters. In Rom. 8:33, Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Any uncertainty, doubt, or fear here? No! "For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Now turn to 2 Cor. 4:17,18, and 5:1) "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know." He does not say, we fancy, or, it is our opinion, but "We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Any uncertainty, doubt, or fear here? No! Come along with me to Phil. 1:6, "Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform, or finish, it until the day of Jesus Christ." Turn to 2 Tim. 1:12, "I know"--no hesitancy here. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." Come to the last chapter, 16th verse: "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Let us hear what Peter says, who was blessedly taught by the same Spirit. Writing to those who were begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he says: "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:3,5) John is perfectly one with Paul and Peter in this matter. He says: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not appear what we shall be; but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (1 John 3:2) Jude joins in with his glorious doxology: "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." Thus we see that Paul, Peter, John, and Jude were all agreed as to the everlasting security of the Church of God in Christ Jesus. They had no fear as to any of the members of the mystical body of Christ ever falling away form Him to perish in the clutches of Satan.
But to the text. Paul says: "But I keep under my body." What does he mean by that? Not the material body. Some of you may be ready to say to me: "You do not look as though you kept under your material body." Neither am I going to after the Popish fashion. I don't belong to that lot. It is a mark of the grand apostasy "to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." (1 Tim. 4:3) The body spoken of here is the old man, the body of sin, the body of death, the body of corruption. You may depend upon it, if the old man, the flesh, which the apostle here styles "my body," is not kept under as a servant, it will prove a very tyrannical master. How did the apostle keep under his old man? He no doubt alluded to the training and exercises of pugilists, wrestlers, and athletes, who took part in the Grecian games. I have witnessed such training, and observed the means used for the reduction of the fleshly, fatty, and superfluous parts of the body, and the development of muscle and strength. By praying, crying, sighing, and communion with his God the apostle mortified the flesh with its affections and lusts. He says, "I fight," alluding to pugilistic encounters in which the contenders made each other black and blue. I shall now give what may not appear to some a very elegant illustration, nevertheless it is not mine, nor Paul's, but by the Holy Ghost. The apostle is here represented as giving his old man a black eye, so as to make him not presentable. He knew by painful experience that as a saint his flesh should be kept out of sight from the world, that his body could never be acceptable to the Church, and could never have a standing in the presence of a God of infinite purity. Paul, as a spiritual man, hated the flesh, fought with the flesh and loathed its appearance even as a respectable member of society would avoid his appearance in public with a discolored eye. "And bring it into subjection." It must take the place of a servant. A servant? Yes, a servant to the child of God. Where does the old man serve the new? When he experiences, like Paul, the burden of the body of sin and death. Then it gives him an errand to the mercy-seat with the cry: "Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?" Sin, when it is experienced, gives the living child a message to the throne of grace. Were it not for felt sin, the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, and the seethings of indwelling corruption, where should we be? Seeking our pleasures with the worldling and the giddy professor, and not seeking to breathe our desires into the ears of that God, who, when He hears, comforts and refreshes His mourning ones.
Why did Paul keep under his body, and bring it into subjection? He says: "Lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." In the 17th verse he says: "For though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity if laid upon me; yea, woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel." He preached God's Gospel for the ingathering of God's elect, the bringing of them to the feet of a precious Christ to be washed, clothed, and provided for during their stay down here. But he declared something else besides the Gospel, though he always preached truth. If you will look through this epistle, you will see how earnestly he contended for discipline, order, and decency. He taught how to deal with refractory members. There are many very strange characters in the Church of Christ, who, with all their sins and infirmities, are children of God. Turn with me to the 5th chapter, 3rd verse: "For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath done this deed." The sin of incest. "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh." There you see a castaway; but not after the order of that wretched presumer at Rome, who, with bell, book, and candle, and the most horrible curses, consigns to eternal torments all those who differ from him. No, nor after the manner in which some of our Protestant communities deal with weak and fallen brethren. "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of Jesus Christ." Marvelous mercy to be a castaway to such an end. This is simply to be a castaway from Church fellowship and communion, and from open association with the members of the Lord's body. Here we see there was in the Church at Corinth a man who acted diametrically opposite to the revealed will and word of God. He was dealt with according to the directions of the Lord given in Matt. 18:15-17, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear thee, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." Such an one would be a castaway, cast out, excommunicated, disapproved of men, while at the same time God looks upon him as an eternally loved one, an elect one, a redeemed one, "perfect in Christ Jesus, accepted in the Beloved, complete in Him."
Afar off, such outcasts, or castaways shall hear the sound of the Gospel trumpet proclaiming restoration to the outcast, and be brought to the footstool of sovereign mercy to bless and praise the riches of forbearing grace and restoring favor. In 2 Cor. 2:6-8, we read of the restoration of the Corinthian castaway. "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore, I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him." Talk about being cast away from JEHOVAH'S love! Never. Here we have a castaway from the Church's embrace, but not from the embrace of his God. The apostle is here speaking of the service and sins of the servant, and not of the standing of the son. He is dwelling upon the walk of the disciple before the Church, and not of the acceptance of the child with the Father, or his rest in the embrace of a loving Redeemer.
May God add His blessing, and give to us light for our understandings, comfort for our hearts, and establishment in the faith for His own name's sake. Amen.