Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.( 2 Corinthians 1:2)
Greetings such as these are common in the New Testament, therefore we are in danger of treating them as inconsequential. But every Word in Sacred Writ has been selected by the Holy Spirit for our benefit.
What does the apostle mean by wishing “Grace and Peace” upon all who turn aside from the din of this “vanity fair” we live in, to read his letters? It would profit us to learn and relearn the meaning of this profound word, Grace.
Grace, or (grk) Charis , means favor, or goodwill. Usually it refered to the favor shown by a superior to an inferior.
But the Apostles reveal that there is more to the term than that, for the gospel reveals that Grace is favor shown to the undeserving. But “undeserving” is not a strong enough term. The Apostle Paul is used to show us that Grace is God’s favor shown to the “Ill deserving”.
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet 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 which was bestowed upon me was not in vain…( I Corinthians 15:9-10)
No wonder the song cries out “Amazing Grace…”. Grace is Amazing! That the Holy God should grant favor to sinners, making a righteous way for us to be reconciled to Him is truly awesome.
“Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me?”
Grace cannot be earned, it is a free gift, initiated by God, and accessed only through faith in Jesus. To attempt to put God in any kind of debt, or obligation based upon “good works” is a profound insult to the giver of grace.
I would liken it to a man who visited a wealthy friend, who showed him his prize possession, a rare Ming Dynasty vase, worth millions of dollars. The man was impressed, in fact so impressed that he reached out to touch it. But he was clumsy also, and dropped it on the floor, shattering it into a hundred pieces.
After an awkward silence, the clumsy friend cleared his throat and said, “Don’t worry about that, I saw one at K-Mart just like it, I’ll replace it!”.
Obviously this man didn’t get the value of the thing he had shattered. There would be no “K-Mart” replacement of this rare treasure.
Multiply that story a million times and see a glimpse of the real situation between God and man; We have shattered his image in us, by our sins. We have broken his Holy Law, and introduced rebellion and disharmony into His universe! Do we realize that no amount of “good works” will replace what has been lost?
God himself is the only one who could ever undo what our sins have done. Only He, by his own initiative could make a way to save sinful, willful, rebellious human beings. He could just as easily wipe us all out, and justly send us to hell, but instead He has revealed His Grace, and offered us His own Peace.
Grace is not merely an abstract principle, the Gospel tells us of the coming of God’s Grace into this world, in the person of Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11 announces that ,
… the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men…
Jesus himself is the revelation and channel of God’s amazing Grace, his goodwill towards men who have rebelled against Him, spurned his love and broken His Holy law. How does the Holy God answer sinful men? In Jesus,
… the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.(Titus 3:4-7)
Grace is truly amazing to all whose eyes have been opened to their own sin and to the enormous implications of the fall of man. How could God love us? How could he ever want anything to do with us? Yet in Christ, the Love of God reaches out to his own enemies, extending a nail scarred hand of forgiveness and reconciliation to “whosoever wills”.