Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Grace and Peace..."
    Of the thirteen New Testament epistles we know to have been written by the Apostle Paul, each contain a form of the salutation found in Romans 1:7...
    "Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
    Paul's introductory blessing in each letter reveals the attitude of God toward His trusting children in Christ.  He conveys His grace to us in order that we may know His peace.  This is interesting because believers have already received God's grace in our new birth, and in the foundational sense "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).  Paul therefore addresses in his salutations our ongoing need for experiencing grace and peace as we live our earthly lives.  This is surely the case, and blessed is the Christian aware of our Heavenly Father's attitude and desire to perpetually bestow His favor in order to maintain the tranquility of our hearts.
    I am convinced that the more we know the attitude of God toward us, the more our own attitudes will be directed toward the devotion He desires to produce in us (II Corinthians 3:18).  We must have a strong sense of the atmosphere of good will that prevails in our Lord's heart toward us.  Certainly He is not pleased with all that we think, say, and do.  We can grieve the Holy Spirit, and we can feel God's "fiery indignation" as He deals with wayward attitudes and behaviors that will harm us (Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 10:27).  However, nothing changes the fundamental attitude of God being "for us" made possible by our justification through Christ (Romans 8:31).  Our Savior bore the wrath of God when He died on the cross, suffering the ultimate in rejection so that we might receive the ultimate in being "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).
    A.W. Tozer wrote that "we may safely preach a friendly Heaven."  Tozer did not preclude wrath for the unbeliever or chastening for the believer by his affirmation of Divine lovingkindess offered to humanity.  He simply meant that all who will come to God through Christ enter into relationship with a Father whose attitude toward us is one of grace and peace.  His heart is tender in both caress and correction, and He desires our growing awareness of His fixed and eternal love for us.  Remembrance and strong affirmation of such Truth will go far in enabling increasing love, faith, obedience, and a heart devoted to the glory of God and the blessing others.
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, 
which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; 
Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
(Luke 2:1-14)


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