September 17, 2017
Grace and Peace
Ephesians 1: 1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God… “
Paul knew he was called by the will of God, and he knew it was for a purpose
Galatians 1: 15-16 “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles… “
He knew that purpose was to tell the Gentiles about Jesus.
Paul is addressing the saints (Ephesians 1: 1) ” …the faithful in Christ Jesus “
Paul knew, as Peter says in Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. “
Ephesians 1: 2 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ” This second verse is the overture to the rest of this letter:
Grace is the beginning of our faith, like a river leading to the end of our faith, which is Peace.
Why is Grace so central to the teaching of Paul?
No-one is disqualified from the Grace of God
1 Corinthians 15: 9-11 “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect… “
So if Grace is a gift, do we need to do anything further?
“…No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. “
So Grace is a dynamic partnership between God and us.
Are we able to gain Grace by what we do? Paul had as good reasons as anyone to think so:
Philippians 3: 4-6 “though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. “
but no-one is good enough on their own to gain Grace, as Paul says:
Philippians 3: 7-10 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith… “
Grace is what he has received, not what he has achieved.
Grace was prophesied in the Old Testament:
Ezekiel 36: 32-34 “ …I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws… “
Jeremiah 31: 32-34 “It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt declares the Lord…This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord.
‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.’… “
and declared by John:
John 1: 14-17 “…Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. “
A gift needs a giver, but it also requires a recipient. Have you received God’s gift of Grace for you?
Grace is a Principle, a Person and a Practice.
Grace equips us:
1 Corinthians 3: 10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. “
Grace enables us and exhorts us to give:
2 Corinthians 8: 1-7 “And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own… “
Grace continues to work with us:
1 Corinthians 15: 10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. “
Grace sustains us in difficult times:
2 Corinthians 12: 9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ … “
It teaches us to say ‘No’:
Titus 2: 11-14 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age… “
The result of Grace is that we have Peace with God:
Romans 5: 1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ “
Grace and Peace should be the air we breathe.