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My real name is Charlie Albright. I am the pinnacle of evil who God has flooded with His mercy. Declaring my sinful self righteous and holy in His sight! Lavishing His grace upon me by the blood Jesus shed on the cross! Carrying me through this life and giving me satiatfing joy! Anything good about me is only because of His grace!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Grace and Peace

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph 1:2)

Grace and peace to you. These are very familiar terms to those that turn the pages of scripture. You come across them every time you open up an epistles of Paul, Peter and Jude. At the beginning of the letter you will find the terms used in a manner like the one I quoted above.

But do we really think about what is communicated by these words? Many times, familiarity with all things Biblical can create a callousness in us to those things. Not that we disdain them, but we will never take the time to ponder over them since, “Hey, I know all that stuff.”

If that is what familiarity does to you then you are in a dangerous spot indeed! Just look to the Israelites and you will find what happens to a group of people that let familiarity bred callousness.

I know for me that I let myself slip in this regard when it came to these verses. I mean, “It is just a little phrase. I hear about grace and peace so much, I should already know all that there is to be known about it.” What foolish thoughts!

As I was humbled to look at these verse like it was the first time I read them I was struck by the magnitude of its meaning. What is the very first words that come out of the God’s mouth? Grace and peace! Not condemnation! Not a stern rebuke! Grace and peace! No matter if Paul was writing to a messed up church in Corinth or writing to encourage believers in Philippi, God’s first words to them were grace and peace.

Grace: communicating that God has poured upon them blessing that they do not deserve. God is not dealing with his children according to what their works have earned. No, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:32) God has decided to glory Himself by lavishing goodness and joy upon those that do not deserve it. And it is not just that they don’t deserve it. They deserve the opposite! Their sins were a declaration that they deserved hell and condemnation. They were children of wrath, dead in transgressions and sins. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:4-7)

Peace: No hostility exists between those in Christ Jesus and God! Where as, we rebelled against God, laughing at his law, insulting His glory to the infinite degree, Christ has reconciled us! Where as God answered our rebellion with his righteous wrath, God instead directed His wrath to His Son on the cross! “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Rom 5:6-11)

So ,whenever you open up a didactic latter of Paul, no matter what kind of rebuke you will receive from God as you read, remember, the first thing God wanted to say to you is this; Grace and Peace!