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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 35 - Acts 20:24 - Ministers Witnesses of God's Free Love Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


1. What is a minister? He is a witness, as Paul here declares himself to be. See also Acts 26:16, "A minister and a witness." Not a priest, offering sacrifice and communicating between the sinner and God. Not a ruler, issuing commands. Not a judge or lawgiver, publishing laws and exacting penalties. Not a schoolmaster, with the rod in his hand, and austerity in his face. But a witness, coming from God, to tell us of certain things which he knows to be assuredly trite. He has good reason for knowing them to be true: the light of his eyes and the hearing of his ears; and he is sent of God to relate to us what he has seen and heard. It was this that the Lord meant when he said, "Ye are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48). It is to this that the apostle John so strikingly refers, "That which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled…That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you" (1 John 1:1-3). The first apostles were witnesses of what they themselves had seen and heard; and we are witnesses of what they saw and heard, and have left on record for us. It is this that lays the foundation for faith.

2. What is the nature of his testimony? It is gospel or good news. It is not law, nor command, nor threatening, nor terror; but simply good news. These other things come in as arguments or warnings in connection with the reception or rejection of this gospel. But they are not the main thing; nor are they the proper and higher subjects of ministry. The minister of Christ is the bearer of glad tidings. This is his first office; his primary business. All the rest is subordinate to this. He is to be what the angel was to Mary and to the shepherds of Bethlehem: the teller of good news. He does not come from Sinai, he comes from Zion, he comes from Bethlehem.

3. What is this gospel of which he testifies? It is the gospel of the grace of God; the good news of God's free love to sinners. This is his message: "God is love"; "God so loved the world"; God is "rich in mercy"; "the grace of our God is exceeding abundant"; "the Lord our God is merciful and gracious, long-suffering, slow to wrath, abundant in goodness and truth." He comes from God to bear testimony to God. He comes to sinners to announce "grace"; time grace of God; the free love of Him whose wrath we had so terribly provoked. The gospel of grace sums itself up in these points:

(1.) What God is. God is love. Fury is not in Him. He is the God of all grace. His nature is love, and so is His name. This love is like Himself, infinite; so that where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded.

(2.) What God has given. He has given His Son. This is the pledge and measure of His love. It is an unspeakable gift; the free gift of free love to sinners. It is not promised but given. It is not held out for sale at a price; but presented by God, to be received by us without condition, or price, or merit. Such is the grace of God.

(3.) What God has done. He has not only given His Son, but delivered Him up for us all. It pleased the Lord to bruise him. The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquities of us all. This is the Lord's doing, and wondrous in our eyes. The Son of God, sent of the Father, has come, lived, died, been buried, risen. All is complete. Such is the grace of God.

(4.) What God has provided. Fullness of every needed blessing is in Christ for us. Forgiveness, life, righteousness, reconciliation, peace, joy, wisdom, holiness; all in Christ! Such is the provision for sinners made by free love.

And now we come to ask, How are we made sharers of this free love and its blessings?

(1.) Not by buying them. They are priceless; and they are free. They would not be gifts, and this grace would not be free love, if all were not absolutely and unconditionally free; if in any part of the great transaction there was anything approaching to buying or selling.

(2.) Not by deserving them. If it were so, grace were no more grace. Desert is as impossible and as incongruous as purchase.

(3.) Not by becoming fit for them. Our only fitness is our need; and that every sinner has already in the bare fact that he is a sinner. His fitness for pardon is that he is condemned; for life, that he is dead; for grace, that he is under wrath.

(4.) Not by waiting for them. To speak of waiting is to speak of putting them away from us at present, to say, that they are not at hand, and that God is not willing to give them this moment.

How then do we get them? By simply receiving them. And how do we receive them? By receiving the testimony concerning the good news. That is all. Be receivers, not rejectors of our testimony; and all things are yours. But let it be now. No more excuses, or delays, or hesitations. Not tomorrow, but today. For your danger is great; and the Judge standeth before the door.