“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”
Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
The salutation desires two blessings for the Christians in Asia Minor:
1) grace and
Grace always precedes peace where they appear together. We cannot know the peace of God without first knowing the grace of God.
Peter wants more than addition of grace and peace; he wants multiplication. He wants both grace and peace multiplied in our lives. We never graduate from the grace or peace of God. We never outgrow our need for grace and peace. The Christian needs the grace of God for his financial and domestic problems. Grace is available for those who know God personally. We cannot orient to suffering unless we first orient to the grace of God. Grace correlates peace in the midst of suffering.
Grace is more than unmerited favor. It is something we receive from God that we did not earn or deserve. It is the favor of God with all the effects that come with it: forgiveness, assisting, and providential care. Grace is all that God is free to do for us because of the death of Christ for us.
Grace implies that God’s plan is perfect because God is perfect. The perfect essence of God produces a perfect plan of grace. If man does anything in God’s plan it is no longer perfect. Man cannot participate in providing grace. If he does, he preempts grace.
Grace always excludes human merit, human responsibility and human good. Grace means that God does all of the providing. It is impossible for any believer to get out of the sphere of grace. Once we accept Christ we are never free from grace. No matter how contrary we may act to grace, we cannot get away from it.
In our “do-it-yourself” generation, this is hard for some people to grasp. Someone says, “How can a person do such a thing and still be a Christian?” This shocks some Christians but the believer who did it is still alive! God still has a plan for him. We forget the extent of our sin and sin capacity. We live every moment under God’s grace.
Grace is all that God can and will do for the believer in Christ. This is apart from his merit, works or cooperation. It is a matter of believing God has made this provision in Christ. Belief is a non-meritorious system of action. The greatest thing God can do for any member of the human race is to make him like his Son Jesus Christ.
There is a catch to receiving the grace of God – we must humbly accept it by faith (James 4:6; Hebrews 4:16). When things are going well we do not need the grace of God. However when things go wrong, that is a different matter. We can get along on our own wit, on our own ingenuity, on our own schemes and plans. When we come to the end of ourselves, then that is the opportunity for God to help.
God operates with four spheres of grace toward the believer:
1. Salvation (Ephesians 2:8,9)
2. Restoration (I John 1:9)
3. Spirituality (Ephesians 5:18)
4. Maturity (Hebrews 5:6)
God gives grace in prayer (Hebrews 4:16), fruit (I Corinthians 15:10; II Corinthians 6:11; 9:8), suffering (II Corinthians 12:9), power (II Timothy 2:1), growth (II Peter 3:18), stability (I Peter 5:12) and restoration (Hebrews 12:15).
God is free to bestow his grace on us because Christ satisfied his absolute demands.
Grace always precedes peace in our lives.
It is not true that God helps those who help themselves. People think that that concept is in the Bible. That is like the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Neither phrase is in the Bible. The Biblical principle is God helps the helpless. When we come to the end of our rope and cry, “I cannot solve this problem. I do not have any solutions” then God will help us. Then we are a candidate for God’s help. Then God’s grace will gird us. We must come to a place of surrender – “I give up, I am going to stop trying to wiggle out of this thing. I am going to stop resolving this myself by virtue of my brain or brawn.” God waits until we view ourselves as bankrupt then he comes to our aid (I Peter 5:10).