Agreement: Grace & Peace – Part 1
by Margaret D. Mitchell
"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)
Cycle To Wholeness
In the midst of the beautiful autumn and winter holidays, I find myself taken back to a tiny church and a community of leaders who sincerely love on the hurting and consistently work to help them in practical ways. I love the intimacy of small communities of God’s people and the multiple invitations for practical outreach, like to visit the elderly in local nursing homes. These simple intimacies, my heart’s desires, minister restoration to my soul and remind me of the power of pure joy and wholeness.
God is so good to soothe our souls after we have walked through a valley that has stretched us far. I love how The Holy Spirit continually works to free us by His mercy—how He uses the power of simple acts to mend broken-heartedness to the extent that there isn’t even a crack—by giving us opportunities to participate in rediscovering what was once lost.
In my lifetime, I have been involved in restoration ministries that believe in instant healing and also in the process of healing over time. To be sure, God is not limited to one way of restoring us on earth. He does both. What is pivotal to understand is that He heals us and that Jesus did a completed work at the cross to make a way for us to receive it all. Will we allow Him to complete us—to enter into His peace and make us whole and to finish the work through us propelled by His grace?
He is the author and the finisher, our wise counselor. And our only wise choice is to yield to Him throughout the journey.
God transforms us over a lifetime into more of His likeness. He desires that we not merely survive but thrive in Him, all for His glory.
Sometimes, God has to take us deeper in Him to take us higher in Him. And He purposes everything we endure to transform us. The secret is to consistently yield to His righteousness—both in the valleys and on the mountaintops.
Jesus’ suffered and died on earth and then rose into heaven to make a way for us to receive all that He sacrificed to give us: eternal salvation, the resurrection of abundant life, victory. The restoration of healing and deliverance is included—all by His presence—His powerful mercy.
Grace & Peace Be With You
God’s mercy rescues us. His grace powers us forward. Our agreement with His righteousness, propels us into His peace—His wholeness. It begins with our individual agreement and is multiplied when we fellowship with others who are in agreement.
I like how Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary puts it: "The duty of Christians; to be holy, hereunto are they called, called to be saints. These the apostle saluted, by wishing them grace to sanctify their souls, and peace to comfort their hearts, as springing from the free mercy of God, the reconciled Father of all believers, and coming to them through the Lord Jesus Christ."
Jesus taught His disciples well.
Paul, John and Peter straight up greeted God’s chosen, beloved people with messages of powerful grace (favor) and powerful peace (of mind, of wholeness, of all essential parts adjoined). Think whole-heartedness, agreement, health, multiplicity, everyone operating in essential relationship with God, according to His righteousness (not ours).
(Self-righteousness is prideful disagreement with God, an abomination to Him and His people and is characteristic of our worst enemy, Lucifer.)
In grace (favor) and peace (unity) is how Paul began his letters to the Romans (1:7), Corinthians (1 Cor 1:3, 2 Cor 1:2), Galatians (1:3), Ephesians (1:2, 6:23-24), Philippians (1:2), Colossians (1:2), Thessalonians (1 Thes 1:1, 2 Thes 1:2), to Timothy (1 Tim 1:2, 2 Tim 1:2), to Titus (1:4), to Philemon (1:3).
And in grace is how Paul ended his letters, which is reminiscent of how Jesus left him and the other disciples (John 14:27)…and us.
John, who emphasized truth and love, understood the power of multiplied agreement, which is revealed in 1 John 1:3 (NIV)…
“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
Like Paul, John also directly greeted God’s chosen with grace and peace consistently (Rev 1:4), but he also included himself in his greeting in 2 John 1:3. And in 3 John 1:2 (NASB). John shares a message of grace and peace in this concise, profound declaration of God’s truth…
“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers."
Peter, too, began and ended his messages with references to grace and peace multiplying as God’s chosen people (we Christians) come to know God more. How wonderful is this?! And note that Peter offers this greeting, this invitation, this declaration of truth straight up in both 1 Peter 1:2 and 2 Peter 1:2…
"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." -1 Peter 1:2
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;" -2 Peter 1:2
Peter was talking to Christians here…encouraging them to receive all that God has for them, all the victory of favor (grace) that Jesus died to give them (and us) through The Father’s heart.
Peter also instructed, by God’s grace, in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..."
In each of these aforementioned messages from Peter, John and Paul, “grace” transliterates from the Greek word, “charis,” to mean “a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, favor, gratitude, thanks, a favor, kindness,” according to Strong’s concordance.
And in each of these aforementioned messages from Paul, John and Peter, “peace” transliterates from the Greek word, “eiréné,” to mean “one, quietness, rest,” according to Strong’s concordance.
I love how Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary puts it: "The duty of Christians; to be holy, hereunto are they called, called to be saints. These the apostle saluted, by wishing them grace to sanctify their souls, and peace to comfort their hearts, as springing from the free mercy of God, the reconciled Father of all believers, and coming to them through the Lord Jesus Christ."
To be sure, the apostles understood what Jesus said to them in John 14:27…
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
Jesus knew that He had poured into His followers and that there was much forthcoming—greater works ahead to be accomplished—in them and through them—works of restoration for His glory.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ. This devotional was adapted from Margaret's forthcoming book, Enduring Grace. All rights reserved.
Originally published Sunday, 04 December 2016.