Pearls and Perils
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” - John 1:14,16-17.
In a study of the gates mentioned in scripture, I came to the gates of pearl. The Lord began to impress upon my heart some thoughts on the multiplied, manifold, layered grace of God. I was reminded that the believers access, acceptance, and abundance is all of the grace of God.
ACCESS: “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life” – Rev. 21:21,25-27.
God’s Lamb is for us the ladder between heaven and earth, our passport to heaven, the door of the sheep. He also requires complete access to our lives – Rev. 3:20-21.
“Blessed are they that do his commandments (wash their robes), that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” Rev. 22:14.
By sin man forfeited access to the Paradise of God and the tree of life (Gen. 3:22-24). But praise God, Jesus has opened up the way into the presence of God for us. He being made sin, by the grace of God has tasted death for every man. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have ACCESS by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” – Rom. 5:1-2. In the verses following we find layered grace even in the five much mores. In verse 17, “…they which receive abundance of grace…shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
ACCEPTANCE: Our placing as sons is “…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” – Eph. 1;5-6. “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” – Eph. 4:7. We say with overjoyed hearts; “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” – II Cor. 9:15. We are urged to come boldly to the throne of grace in the time of need. The times of greatest need, and greatest danger are allowed for the development of God’s precious jewels. In the mighty hand of God, greater pressure serves to make His precious Jewels more and more precious – Mal. 3:17.
PEARL PRODUCING PERILS: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” – Matt. 13:45-46.
They that dive for pearls generally have very short life spans. If there were never any perils, there would never be any pearls. As we consider the man “seeking goodly pearls” to be a type of Jesus, we think of our Lord laying aside His royal robe, coming down from his glory to seek and save that which was lost. As we think of Him selling all, we are touched by the humility, deep poverty, and complete dependence that Jesus came to. Even though the outcome was known by the triune counsel before the foundation of the world, as much as it was possible, the Son of God placed Himself in great peril to purchase His pearl of great price. He became that seed, that baby, that meek and lowly man that was crucified through weakness, but praise God He also lives by the power of God. His adversary was out to get Him and defeat Him at every turn. We rejoice that Jesus; “…having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it” – Col. 2:15.
“Shall a man give all the substance of his house for love?” It seems to me that a heart revelation of the value that Jesus has place on us should make a difference in how we value Him (Song of Sol. 8:7). If one would ask, Paul, what is Jesus worth to you? Paul would answer, “He is everything to me” (Phil. 3:7-9). In that Pearl of great worth we see a correspondence to Prov. 31:10 of the virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies. One may ask how is she made so precious, we may answer only by the grace of God.
ABUNDANCE: It is interesting that the pearl is not formed mechanically, but of a living organism. A grain of sand lodged in the shell of the oyster is repeatedly coated with layer upon layer of mother of pearl to protect the oyster from irritation.
Grace and peace are being multiplied unto us through the knowledge of Him who hath called us unto glory and virtue. I repeat part of the text: “And of his fulness have all we received, grace for grace” – Jn. 1:16. When we by faith receive the grace of God what do we gain? More grace. When we go before our Father’s throne with our need, in faith we get more grace. Several translations seem to amplify this thought, and I quote in part; favour upon favour, gift upon gift, spiritual blessing heaped upon spiritual blessing, hence layer upon layer.
If we are His purchased possessions, held in His almighty arms, why oh why the peril? May I suggest, would God not allow the peril for the development of the pearl? Paul said: “I am what I am by the grace of God…and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain.” He also urges us to not receive the grace of God in vain (II Cor. 6:1-2). He then seems to list some of the irritations, and the layering on of the grace of God (Vs. 4-10).
Shall perils separate us from the love of God? Rom. 8:35. Perils are a very real part of our adversary’s operation to fill our hearts with dread. He is attempting to frighten us from wholehearted faithfulness to our faithful Lord, and to keep us from enjoying His everlasting love. The Father of lies is determined to convince us that we can be separated from the love of God. He would put us under condemnation, and try to put upon us the spirit of bondage again to fear. He would keep us from enjoying our sonship, the Spirit’s leadership, Jesus’ Lordship, and the believers heirship. Many dangers face God’s people and we could let the fear of them rob us and keep us from going after God’s best.
The route to the throne is perilous and thorn-covered, but praise God He wants us to know that nothing can separate us from His love. Nothing can pluck us out of His hands, nor erase us from His palms. For our life is hid with Christ in God, and He is faithfully working to make all things work together for our good. We are wise to submit to His hand, totally trusting Him and give Him thanks. For the very things that Satan is using to try to defeat us, God turns around to use to complete us. He would conform us to the image of His dear Son.
Read II Cor. 11:24-30 and consider. Some of God’s people instead of growth, say that they wish they could be saved again and start all over, how sad. Others say that they don’t want to yield too wholeheartedly to the Holy Spirit’s fire for fear they might burn out. Well Paul didn’t halve to start all over, and He didn’t burn out. He says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We can’t afford to follow our own mind, nor can we trust fickle fleshly zeal, but we can count on holy fire. Paul here mentions seven types or varieties of peril. Then in verse thirty he tells of His attitude toward the Lord in these irritations, limitations, humiliations, vexations, privations, agitations, aggravations, and all the daily vexing detours.
“If I must needs glory, I will glory in the things which concern mine infirmities.” It is through such that God’s people come to know the grace of God in truth. These pearl-developing perils are allowed by God and accepted by us for the layering on, enveloping us in the power of the life of Christ. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in mins infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (envelop with another layer of grace) – II Cor. 12:9.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” I Tim. 4:1. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God: having a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof: from such turn away” – II Tim. 3:1-5.
We know that we are in the last days, “latter times” are here, that Laodicean attitude abounds in lukewarmness, self-sufficiency, and spiritual ignorance. If you can’t run with the world, if you don’t fit in with the worldly crowd in your assembly; thank God. Today, God’s work of grace seems to be winding up this Church Age. Perils are multiplying. These are in a sense dangerous, difficult, strength draining times. Thank God that these are also powerfully productive times for those that are receiving more and more and more of God’s marvelous grace, which is said to be the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.