Message Preached at Poole Christian Fellowship on Sunday 6 April 2014
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Reference: 1 Peter 5 v 12-19
Peter is now concluding his letter to the early church. He has spoken to them who they are in Christ, the nature of their salvation, the need for them to grow in their faith, the need for holy living to be steadfast in the face of suffering. And now he brings his epistle to an ending:
With the help of Silas whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Have you ever had the experience of spending time looking for something, only to discover that you had it all along?
Peter concludes his letter by reminding his readers of two things that they have – grace and peace. These are both things that they already possess by virtue of their conversion to follow Jesus.
Grace is defined as the undeserved, unwarranted favour of God. Peter here associates the whole of the Christian life with grace. He is saying that the whole letter has been about the fact that they are the unworthy and grateful recipients of the favour of God, and that the life they live comes out of that grace, rather than being the cause of it. Peter is saying – you are saved because of the undeserved favour of God – now live in it! That grace will enable you to live the life you should live, it will enable you to resist the works of the enemy and to be firm in the middle of suffering. That grace will mean that you have an inheritance in eternity that cannot perish spoil or fade. It will enable you to be the missional people you were called to be. Stand firm in it. Don’t let anyone rob you of it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to earn it. Live in the good of it.
The twin sister of grace is peace. Again, peace is something that is ours, the birthright of every Christian. We can think of peace in three ways:
- Peace with God. The God of justice, wrath and judgement, who judged the world of Noah and will judge the whole world in his wrath at the end of time – you are at peace with him. You can only understand that when you understand the wrath of God.
- Peace with each other. We have been brought into a new relationship with each other because of what Jesus has done. Because we are at peace with God we are at peace with others. We may disagree, we may quarrel, but there is a deep unity amongst us which we must not allow the enemy to rob us of.
- Peace within us. The peace of God is promised as a birthright to all Christians, so that there is a freedom from conflict, a freedom from turmoil. As we are in God’s word, as we bring our concerns to him in prayer, so his peace floods our soul. Don’t let the enemy rob you of it.
As we conclude this series, we need to note one further thing. Grace and peace are given to us in the context of community. We are not simply individual recipients of grace and peace – we have grace and peace as a part of God’s community.
A few concluding thoughts about Grace and Peace in community:
- The Community is made up of deeply flawed people. Peter himself let the Lord down repeatedly, Mark had a track record of leaving Paul in the lurch and going back to Jerusalem. We all know that we are surrounded by flawed people. Such is the nature of our community.
- The Community is local, national and universal. Peter sends greetings from the church at Babylon (probably referring to Rome)
- Greet one another with a kiss of love
Although this clearly has cultural overtones, surely Peter is saying that as brothers and sisters, as those with a shared call, salvation and inheritance, as those in a common warfare, we live our lives in community, and we greet each other with warmth and friendship. We are the recipients of a common calling that will end in heaven. We are a part of a dynamic missional community lived out with grace and peace. Let’s live in it.