#53 GOD OF ALL GRACE

We usually associate the apostle Paul with teaching about grace, but Peter’s teaching also is firmly grounded on God’s amazing grace.

In 1Peter 1:2 Peter greets his readers with ‘grace and peace be yours in abundance’. (In 2Peter 1:2 he adds to this prayer the words ‘through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’ – only when we know God and Jesus Christ can we really understand and enjoy grace.) He then goes on to describe salvation in terms that can be understood only on the basis of grace [1Peter 1:3-5]. He makes it clear that our salvation depends entirely on God and is therefore constant and secure forever.

In 1:10 Peter sums up the whole of Old Testament anticipation of Jesus Christ with the phrase ‘the grace that was to come to you’. The message of Jesus and about Jesus – the miraculous conception, the virgin birth, the whole incarnation, the life, the teaching, the sacrificial, sin-bearing death, the resurrection, the ascension and glorification – anticipated in the Old Testament and accomplished and fulfilled in the New Testament, is ‘the grace that was to come to you’. This grace was in God’s purpose even before the creation of the world – given to us before the beginning of time [2Timothy 1:9], in and through Christ who was chosen before the creation of the world [1Peter 1:20].

In 1:13 Peter encourages us to ‘set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed’. Then, at Christ’s return in glory and power, God’s grace will take those who believe in Christ through the judgement unscathed. The guaranteed salvation we now possess in Christ will be ours in all its fullness:  all that is opposed to Christ, in us and in the world, will be forever removed. Do we trust the grace of God for our salvation now? Then we can also trust his grace then.

In 3:7 Peter speaks of husband and wife being ‘heirs together of the gracious gift of life’ [Greek text ‘the grace of life’]. The whole of salvation is summed up in this one word ‘life’, and that is seen as ‘grace’. Notice here in passing, that although there are obvious distinctions between people [the wife is referred to as ‘the weaker partner’], the impact of grace generates a fundamental equality of identity and value – ‘heirs together’. This equalizing impact of grace applies to all believers irrespective of their various racial, political, social or physical differences. All are equally precious to God. All are equally saved by grace alone.

In 4:10 Peter commands us to faithfully administer ‘God’s grace in its various forms’, or, as the KJV has it ‘the manifold grace of God’. God’s grace is multifaceted, as Peter’s next reference to grace reveals.

In 5:10 Peter speaks of ‘the God of all grace’. He says:

‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’

For the believer, God is ‘the God of all grace’. In these simple words Peter expresses that same sense of awe at the immensity of God’s grace that Paul expressed with highly expressive phrases:

‘God’s abundant provision of grace’ – Romans 5:17.

‘the surpassing grace God has given you’ – 2Corinthians 9:14.

‘his glorious grace freely given us in the One he loves’ – Ephesians 1:6.

‘the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us’ – Ephesians 1:7,8.

‘the incomparable riches of his grace’ – Ephesians 2:7.

That same God who lavished his grace upon us in and through the death of Christ has also called us to his eternal glory. As Peter has already taught us in 1:5, this same God, this God of all grace, is shielding us for that glorious day.

Then in 5:12 Peter says ‘this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.’ Peter is confident, and wants us also to be confident, that the message about Jesus Christ and his saving death is the one true message: the true grace of God. The gospel is the only message of grace. The religions, cults and isms generated by human minds are performance-based, in which in one way or another I have to save myself by my own efforts or merit. The gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, tells me that God has done it all for me and gives it to me as sheer gift. Grace.

So Peter tells us that this gospel, this grace, is the one true message, in the midst of many counterfeits that would confuse and distract us. Because it is the only message of God’s grace, Peter exhorts us to ‘stand fast in it’. Surrounded by the pressures of life, surrounded by the unbelief and relativism of our community, surrounded by the enemy’s persistent and destructive intent, there is temptation to ease back on our faith.

May we recognize the truth of what Peter here states: this is the true grace of God. And may we do as he commands: stand fast in it.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018