21 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings. 22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Phil 4:21-23 (NIV)
Paul begins and ends his letter “to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi” with grace. How appropriate. From Genesis to Revelation, God permeates His love letter to us with grace as well. It is impossible to doubt the sincerity of God’s love as His Son’s blood is stamped upon every gift of mercy He bestows. He is not stingy with His gifts of grace rather He continually sends forth “showers of blessings” upon His children. Lavish grace giving way to lavish grace. As believers, we can live confidently for Him because of the surpassing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ which ever accompanies us. Grace – such a wonder. The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible – New Testament Lexical Aids defines “Charis” – the Greek word translated “Grace” – in the following way:
“To rejoice; Grace, from its root, this word denotes that which causes joy, pleasure, that which creates delight in the recipient or observer. Hence, it is used with some latitude to mean gratification, thankfulness, gratitude or appreciation for a kindness granted or desired; a benefit, favor, or gift; acceptance, approval, generosity, open-heartedness, or magnanimity. It was used especially to describe favors done without expectation of return. In reference to God we might understand it as the absolutely free expression of His loving-kindness to men, finding its only motive in His bounty and benevolence as the Giver: His unearned and unmerited favor…. Strictly speaking, grace is the favorable disposition of God toward sinners on account of Christ.”
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:
8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor 9:8 (NIV)
“It is well to be poor, when the knowledge of our poverty serves but to unfold to us the exhaustless riches of divine grace. That grace can never suffer any one to go away empty. It can never tell anyone that he is too poor. It can meet the very deepest human need; and not only so, but it is glorified in meeting it. This holds good in every case. It is true of every individual sinner…Grace is the grand and only resource for us all. It is the basis of our salvation; the basis of a life of practical godliness; and the basis of those imperishable hopes which animate us amid the trials and conflicts of this sin-stricken world. May we cherish a deeper sense of grace, and more ardent desire for glory! C H MacIntosh
“Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.” John Wesley
Our world is hungry for the grace and reconciliation that God alone offers. A story is told of a father in Spain named Juan who was estranged from his son Paco. Desiring for reconciliation, the father places an ad in the Madrid paper which read: “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon on Saturday. You are forgiven. I love you, Your Father.” Saturday eight hundred Pacos showed up seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. Indeed, the world is hungry for the full and complete reconciliation that God offers. God’s grace brings contentment and peace to our souls. The presence of God is the only salve for our wounds. Christ is precious to His own. Humans desire the broken to be made whole, the soiled to again be made clean. As the prophet Isaiah states:
18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV)
“God hath in Himself all power to defend you, all wisdom to direct you, all mercy to pardon you, all grace to enrich you, all righteousness to clothe you, all goodness to supply you, and all happiness to crown you.” Thomas Brooks
Paul urges his readers not to receive God’s grace in vain. In the greatest act every done on mankind’s behalf:
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 (NIV)
Indeed, Paul states that God’s grace to him was not without effect – it was not empty, vain or useless in his life and neither should it be in ours as modern day believers in Jesus. God’s grace changes a life and it is to be evident for the world to see. We do not remain the same and this treasure we have received in our jars of clay is to be used for His glory and our ultimate good. This points the lost to Christ and the wayward back to Him. I read a story about Dr. Livingstone this morning – a missionary who plunged deep into the heart of Africa in the late 1800’s. His exploits were passionately followed by the world and his foray’s widely discussed. In the early 1870’s news from him went quite. The world held its breath in wonder at what had become of him. The New York Herald made a decision to send Henry Stanley to discover what had happened to the famed Livingston. Dead or alive they desired the story and spared no expense in procuring it. Interestingly, Livingstone was a loving grace filled follower of Jesus and Stanley an adventure seeking journalist and an infidel who viewed Christianity with considerable cynicism. Finally locating Livingstone near Lake Tanganyika Stanley uttered the now famous words: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” Stanley arrived just in time to aid the old missionary with medicine and supplies and news from home. Yet, Livingstone gave Stanley far more. Curious as to what would motivate and inspire a man to leave all; Stanley desired to dig further still. Through Livingstone’s grace filled life, little by little observing his piety, his gentleness, his passionate zeal and love for the Lord, Stanley was converted by him. Livingstone’s grace filled life was not without effect. Indeed, God’s all surpassing grace to us is not to be without effect either.
“God is able to recover this image through grace as we are conformed to Christ.” Alister McGrath
What I glean from this:
• God’s Word is permeated with grace.
• God’s grace is His unearned, unmerited favor toward me.
• Our world is hungry for the grace and reconciliation that God alone offers.