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Agreement: Grace & Peace – Part 2
by Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of December 14, 2014
"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all." -Acts 4:32-33 (NASB)
Critical Elements: Mercy & Truth
We cannot experience the reconciliation of grace and peace without the redemptive power of mercy and love established in God’s truth through Jesus Christ.
As I mentioned in Part 1, Paul, John and Peter greeted God’s beloved with peace and grace. What’s particularly interesting in 1 Tim 1:2, 2 Tim 1:2 and 2 John 1:3 is that Paul and John also added "mercy" to their greetings.
Why was mercy emphasized here?
The recipients of Paul and John’s messages were sinning by not acting in alignment with God’s truth: Timothy sinned due to his timidity, and “some” of the people in 2 John sinned due to deception (1:4, 7-8). Mercy is God’s pity and compassion extended to sinners like them and like us.
Discernment of God’s truth conquers deception. And our obedience to God’s truth conquers fear. The enemy knows that fear can cut multiplicity short. Think Joshua. He chose obedience.
Discernment requires knowledge of and a courageous commitment to God’s truth to the extent of guarding it and suffering for it if necessary. This is what Jesus did. Paul and John understood this because they witnessed the power of Jesus’ commitment to truth firsthand.
God sent us a delineating message through Paul and John: be aware and acquainted with God’s truth. It is the very foundation by which God does His work through us on earth and the defining factor that will keep us in God’s grace and peace along the way.
Jesus assures us in John 13:15-17 (NASB): "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. “Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
John forewarns us in 2 John 1:8…“Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.”
Even in Challenges
As sojourners, who are passing through this world, when we feel scattered or surrounded by strangers or difficult people, we can still choose to be in agreement with God’s grace and peace—in His Word, in His presence and in His people who are aligned with His righteousness.
We can remember that we are the seed that God purposefully sows; and within the embodiment of us (God’s seed) is The Spirit of The Living, Imperishable, Enduring God, The One True God who has the power to rise up in fruitfulness by His grace, according to our faith for His wholeness (peace) and our obedience to His righteousness as Peter describes in 1 Peter 1:1-5 and 2 Peter 1:1-11…
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” -1 Peter 1:1-5 (NASB)
"Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." -2 Peter 1:1-11 (NASB)
Take special notice of 2 Peter 1:6-7—of the Fruit of The Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) mentioned: self-control, perseverance (patient endurance) and loving-kindness. By choosing these in our hearts, we come into agreement with God’s power that sustains us and propels us through difficult relationships—where our faith is proven—and into God’s reward of multiplicity. Think Job. Think Ruth. Think Joseph.
As we become more like God in nature, as we allow Christ's righteousness to rule in our hearts (through our faith and by His grace for His peace), we will discover more and more how His authority reigns in us and through us, producing much fruit for His glory (2 Peter 1:11).
And as we join with other believers, we will see much fruit multiply. This is the power of agreement.
This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.