Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Philippians 1:2, Ephesians 1:2, 2 Cor 1:2, 1 Cor 1:3, Galatians 1:3 etc.
Have you ever wondered why St. Paul opened so many of his letters with ‘grace and peace’ ?
The grace of God amazed Paul. He couldn’t believe that righteousness was a free gift. His amazement explodes off the page in his Letter to the Philippians.
…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from obeying the law, but that which is through faith in Christ. A righteousness that comes from God and is by faith!
Isaiah was equally amazed:
I am overwhelmed with joy in The Lord my God, for he Has draped me in a robe of His righteousness!
And this is how we all feel – we who’ve had a new, fresh, powerful revelation of God’s grace.
Paul and Isaiah both understood that being righteous wasn’t up to them. They understood that nothing they could do – no amount of good deeds – could earn God’s approval.
Even if they helped a little old lady across the road every day, or never looked at porn ever again (and yes there was porn in those days – it was just painted on pots and papyrus instead of posted on the internet) they knew they could never – no matter how hard they tried – ever meet God’s moral standard.
Isaiah drives the point home when he says:
All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.
Not all our mistakes. Not all our sins. But all our righteous acts!
This is why Paul says in Romans 3:23.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
But thankfully this famous verse doesn’t stop there. The second half of the line is the most beautiful, relieving, soul-satisfying verse you will ever hear –
…and are justified freely by His grace.
If we are in Christ we stand before God justified, that is, completely innocent.
We stand before God draped in a robe of Christ’s righteousness.
When Martin Luther grasped that he was righteous because of Christ and not based on what he did he said it was ‘the greatest life-changing experience’ he’d ever had. He said it was like ‘entering a paradise of peace.’
Often the church today preaches a mixed-grace message, that Jesus did his part, now we must do ours. This isn’t a paradise of peace, this is a prison of fear – fear of never being good enough for God – a fear of losing our salvation.
To people living in fear, John says:
There is no fear in love. For perfect love casts out fear.
(1 John 4:18)
And God is perfect Love, remember.
What does perfect Love look like? It looks like Christ on the cross, pouring out his blood, taking our sin, and giving us his righteousness.
What a God!
Now it’s up to us who understand God’s amazing grace to spread this message of good news, not only to unbelievers, but also to believers who are still living under the law, still trapped in a prison of fear.
And what is this message?
For He made him who had no sin to be sin for us, that in Him we would become the righteousness of God.
(2 Cor 5:21)
I believe this is God moving. This is an outpouring. God’s had enough of his beloved church living in fear under a mixed-grace message. He wants to set the captives free. God is breathing this new, modern hyper-grace message into the world and it’s spreading like tongues of wild-fire. What a privilege to be a part of it.
Thank you, Jesus!
Let’s preach ‘grace’ and welcome others into our paradise of peace.
And let’s begin our emails the way Paul does his letters.
Grace and Peace!