You may notice when I send emails to you or sign the end of a pastor’s page I always write the words, “grace and peace” before my name. You may have wondered why do I do this, and what is the meaning of it? In this pastor’s page I am going to explain to you why. The short answer is I get it from the Bible. The first place I get it from is Numbers 6:24-26. Every time I close one of our services with the benediction I close with these words of blessing. In these verses the High Priest Aaron is telling the people of Israel that all who belong to the Lord have His grace and peace over them. In the New Testament, you will also notice the apostle Paul in his letters repeatedly tells the churches and individuals grace and peace. He is following the model of the Aaronic blessing that God’s people need to be reminded of the reality of His grace and peace toward them. Paul believes this is so important that he writes this phrase in all thirteen of his letters. So what is so significant about the words grace and peace that Aaron and Paul shower the people of God with them? Let us take a look at these two terms. We will first begin by looking at the meaning of the biblical term grace.
A common definition given by theologians is that God’s grace is his goodness toward sinners when he is not obligated to do good to them. When one believes in Jesus he must be continually reminded of the grace God has shown him in Christ when he or she deserves only punishment. Through Christ dying on the cross for sinners and being raised to life victoriously, anyone who believes in him is brought into eternal fellowship with God. The apostle Paul wrote that it is, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8). As Christians we freely receive the gift of God’s grace toward us through Christ’s finished work. When we hear the word grace we should have this precious truth on our minds. But if we stop here we do not fully understand the meaning of this important biblical term. My old pastor used to say, “Grace is not just pardon, but power.” The apostle uses grace in this way in his first letter to the church in Corinth. Paul wrote, “by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). What Paul says here is he was able to be faithful in ministry because of God’s work in his life. He knew that God’s power was over him as the Spirit enabled him to live out the life of faith. He called this God’s grace (or goodness) toward him.
To understand this leads us into even more insight about what grace is according to God’s Word. At the end of the letter of Colossians Paul writes, “Grace be with you” (Colossians 4:18). Why would Paul write this at the end of his letter? He does this to tell his readers that everything written in this letter is God’s grace toward them. God has told us everything we need to know to be equipped to live the life of faith (2 Peter 1:3). This means that not only are Paul’s letters grace toward the believer, but also the whole Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Christian is empowered to live the life of faith as he or she carries out what is written in the pages of Holy Scripture. As we live out the Bible the love of Christ controls our actions as the Spirit leads us to do God’s will (2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 5:16). The Bible is the driving force in our lives. This is God’s grace for his people. This is the meaning of grace, but what about peace?
Peace is a word often misunderstood by our culture. Eastern religions falsely say that peace is ridding your mind of thoughts. When you do this you will experience nirvana and they call this peace. But that is not anywhere close to what the Bible teaches. When the Bible uses the word meditate it always means thinking the Word of God. The Psalmist describes the godly man as one who meditates on his Word day and night (Psalm 1:2). This meditation not only leads to a holy life and intimacy with God, but also peace of mind. Before Jesus crucifixion he was preparing his disciples for what was to come. Jesus knew that he was going die, be raised from the dead, and then after forty days ascend into heaven. He told them the Spirit would come and be with them as a Helper and lead them in the truth (John 16:13). He said these words to them so they would be comforted and have peace. They were going to face many trials ahead, but Jesus told them, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33). This is a promise that Jesus not only made to his disciple, but this belongs to all of his followers. In him we have peace in the heart as we go through this difficult life. This is not a peace that can be attained by human effort, but rather it is a peace that only God gives as he dwells with his people (Philippians 4:7). As a believer is tempted to be anxious, he gives this peace as his people ask him for it (Philippians 4:6). So when Paul says “grace and peace” in his letters he is reminding God’s people they have all of this in Christ. So when you hear these words, this is not a comforting phrase thrown together to make you feel good. On the contrary, these are beautiful realities in your life as a child of God. Next time you see the words grace and peace, think over how blessed you are that these are yours in Christ.
Grace and Peace,