After listening to a sermon from Tullian Tchividjian on Grace, I confirmed what he was saying and took it a bit further in looking through all of Paul’s letters in the New Testament. Tullian had taught that in the letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, he began with a phrase many of us have read countless times, and likely read it as a greeting or a formal way Paul began his letter.
Romans 1:7 – To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
What I found was that in fact Paul began all his letters this way! Why? Have we read the opening of his letters wrong all along or was this just a simple greeting? You know as well as I do that Paul didn’t haphazardly write fluff into his letters, so I tend to believe there was a deep purpose for the words that Paul had chosen.
Grace and Peace are the crux of this simple yet profound greeting, and the point of the entire Gospel message! This is why I believe Paul wrote them into all of his letters:
Grace and Peace are not a simple greeting in Paul’s letters, but a summary of the Gospel…Grace is the root, Peace is the fruit!
Grace – The only reason we even have the opportunity to spend eternity with God is the amazing gift of Grace! Grace is something we cannot earn in any way. Grace was personified in the Lord Jesus Christ when He came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died for all the sin of mankind. But that was not it! He then beat death, rose from the grave affirming that He was in fact the Son of God and was completely capable of forgiving our sins to allow us access to eternity with God! The resurrection shows the world that the living Savior came to set the captives free! That is Good News!
Peace – Receiving the Grace of God, accepting and believing Jesus’ conquering sacrifice on our behalf, allows us to live a life that looks different from the world around us. Our circumstances do not define who we are any longer. We are a new creation of amazing value – we are part of God’s family and our eternity is secure! With that kind of assurance, we can live a life of Peace while working through whatever trials come our way with an understanding that our life here is only a brief blip on the road of eternity! Living a life of Peace focuses our thoughts on the things that really matter, the stuff that God cares most deeply about – people! With that kind of focus, we get to join God’s plan of loving people into the Kingdom! Peace is the fruit of our accepting God’s Grace and living that Grace out in our lives!
And that is the Gospel of Jesus! The Gospel is summed up in two words – Grace and Peace! Paul was simply sharing the Gospel in a nutshell while the rest of his letter was written to flow from the simple message of Grace and Peace – the root and the fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The same Gospel that radically changed Saul into Paul saves us to this very moment!
The question on the table is simply this: have you accepted His Grace so that you can live a life full of His Peace? If not there is no time better than right now! His followers may not be all that attractive to you (after all, we are all messed up hypocrites being transformed by the Grace of God), but He is the most amazing person you will ever meet! He loved you so much that He died to set you free from guilt and shame, disgust and pride, addiction and fear, sin and death! If you were the only person in the entire universe, and this still chokes me up, He would have still come to die for you to satisfy the need for death to cover sin…that’s how much He loves you! He really is that good! He fulfills an eternal hole in which every other religion, fame or fortune cannot even come close to fulfilling. His Grace is enough, and His Peace is so refreshing! It’s available to you, right now! Will you accept?