Friday, July 15, 2011

"Grace and Peace" Part 1

    "Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7).
    Of the thirteen New Testament epistles we know to have been written by the Apostle Paul, all contain some form of the above salutation of grace and peace (several also include mercy in the bestowal of Divine favor).  In this regard, recall that Paul wrote to Christians of varying degrees of spiritual devotion and practice, who received either high commendation (the Romans), or severe disapprobation (the Corinthians).
    Wherever believers may be along the path of righteousness, whether we are walking faithfully and obediently, or failingly and waywardly, the Father and the Son desire that grace and peace should be our portion, as administered by the Holy Spirit.  Certainly God may be pleased or displeased by the nature of our response to Him.  And just as certainly, faithfulness and faithlessness bear different fruits in the experience of our Lord's working in our lives.  Nevertheless we look toward Heaven in the assurance that the heart and attitude of God are "for us" as a Father eternally devoted to our benefit and well being (Romans 8:31).  Both the hand of caress and the scourge of chastening bear the Heart of love whereby believers can be sure that grace and peace await only our response of faith, repentance (if necessary) and submission in order to burst forth upon in torrential waves of God's goodness.
    Believers are "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).  Our works are either accepted or rejected, depending on whether or not they originate in the leading and power of the Holy Spirit (II Corinthians 5:9).  Growing understanding of the former leads to a far more consistently positive experience of the latter.  "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (II Corinthians 3:18).  Grace and peace, affirmed and assimilated, produce genuine and loving desire to live a life that honors the Lord Jesus in all things...
"Let us have grace, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).
Tomorrow: Part 2 - Grace and peace received, grace and peace distributed.

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