Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grace, Mercy, and Peace – 2 Tim 1:2

To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (KJV)
Paul’s Son
Have you ever mentored a younger person who was not your own? Big Brothers and Big Sisters is a secular program that provides this opportunity for many people. However good the program is, if you aren’t able to disciple the person in Christ, in the long run of eternity, you will never be able to call him or her your beloved son or daughter. The bond that Paul formed with Timothy can only be accomplished when you are both walking with Christ.
Timothy traveled extensively with Paul on his missionary journeys. While Paul certainly taught him intellectually from the Scriptures, he was also able to see the principles lived out daily in Paul’s life. As a result of that training, Paul also called Timothy his fellow worker, brother, and servant of Jesus Christ. Paul was able to entrust Timothy to encourage believers while Paul was in prison and unable to minister himself. At some point, Timothy began to pastor one of the churches.

Isn’t this the way we should be replicating the life of Christ in us?
A concordance doesn’t show many uses of the word grace in the Old Testament. However, a study of one word translated gracious (chanan) is extremely helpful. This is a root word for grace and is used extensively.
OT:2603 chanan (khaw-nan'); a primitive root; properly, to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior; to favor, bestow; causatively to implore (i.e. move to favor by petition):[1]
Please take my gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have plenty … (Gen 33:11 NASB)
It is often used to describe God’s attitude and provision for us as Jacob described how God had shown him favor while living with his father-in-law, Laban. It is also translated as having mercy and showing pity. If you look up gracious in a concordance, you will find that it is used abundantly. When speaking of God, His graciousness is often accompanied by God’s kindness, compassion, and mercy.
What impresses me is that God’s graciousness establishes an order that I need to remember. When I think of God’s grace I must understand that I am the inferior one. He is Almighty God and I must implore His favor. There is no room for demanding or presuming on it. He extends His grace when He stoops to provide kindness. He must lower himself to deal with us.
Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:6-7 ESV)
Isn’t this exactly what Jesus did? He had to lower Himself to our level to be able to show us the ultimate extent of God’s grace. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, something that we couldn’t do. That is the New Testament’s demonstration of grace.
In the New Testament, the word for grace and gracious translated from Greek conveys three different concepts.
NT:5485 charis, charitos, grace: 1. properly, that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech, 2. good-will, loving-kindness, favor: Luke 2:52, 3. what is due to grace: a. the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace, b. a token or proof of grace, 2 Cor 1:15, 4. thanks 1 Cor 10:30.[2]
In John 1:14, Jesus is described as being full of grace. Jesus is gull of good-will, loving-kindness, and favor. While in Luke 1:30, Mary is described as having God’s favor (the same word for grace), His good-will and loving-kindness was on Mary. In Titus 2:11-12, God’s grace is shown not only in His good-will and loving-kindness in providing salvation but His grace is shown to govern or train us to live upright and godly lives.
So what does Paul mean when He speaks or pronounces grace from God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord?
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Eph 1:6-7 KJV)
We have already received His grace when we are saved, as God has accepted us in Jesus by His shed blood. We have our sins forgiven in accordance with His grace. The big work has been done. Perhaps Paul is thinking about definition 3.a – the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace. God wants our spiritual condition to be one in which we are continually governed by His power. That implies a whole lot more than just considering what His grace has done for us when we are saved (Titus 2:11). We’re talking about living godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:12) in which we get rid of worldly passion and become self-controlled or better yet, spirit-controlled.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O Lord; may your love and your truth always protect me. (Ps 40:11 NIV)
Mercy is an attribute of God that is often mentioned in the Old Testament. When I looked up mercy in Strong’s Concordance, I was blown away by the definition.
OT:7356 racham (rakh'-am); from OT:7355; compassion (in the plural); by extension, the womb (as cherishing the fetus); by implication, a maiden:
OT:7355 racham (raw-kham'); a primitive root; to fondle; by implication, to love, especially to compassionate: [3]
Compassion, I expected, but I didn’t expect to see and the heart of mercy is the sanctity of life – cherishing the unborn child. Thirty six times in the King James Old Testament, this specific word is translated as God’s mercy. Each time these verses are read we should have a word picture of cherishing unborn children. How can we call upon God to remember His mercy and protection for us if we don’t uphold the lives of unborn children?

In Matt 18:22-35, Jesus tells a story about a servant who owed his master millions of dollars. There was no way on earth that this man could repay such a large debt. The master forgave the debt but the man was unwilling to forgive another servant who owed him a few dollars. The master confronted the unforgiving servant.
Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you? (Matt 18:33 NASU)
This is a great demonstration of what mercy means in the New Testament. The master showed mercy to one who didn’t deserve it and had no ability to repay his debt. That is exactly what happened when Jesus died for our sins. We didn’t do anything to deserve or earn God’s forgiveness, but He has granted it through Jesus.
Mercy is something we should pay forward. Pay forward means to pass on to others something we have received but haven’t earned. God expects us to be merciful to others because we have received mercy. If we are not, then we are in danger of incurring punishment. Notice that the master was first going to sell the servant before forgiving his debt. Once the debt was forgiven, there was no recourse to get it again. The punishment for being unmerciful was to be jailed. In the same way, Jesus paid our debt but if we are not merciful we will be in bondage to bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. The punishment for being unforgiving is not lose of salvation but a miserable life.
Paul doesn’t want us to be living that way but to have God’s mercy continually showing in our lives by extending it to others.

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Ps 34:14 KJV)
The Hebrew word for peace is probably one of the more well known words. Even spell-checker recognizes it. It is shalom. It is currently used to mean both hello and good-bye.
OT:7965 shalowm or shalom — completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, a) completeness (in number), b) safety, soundness (in body), c) welfare, health, prosperity, d) peace, quiet, tranquility, contentment, e) peace, friendship, 1) used of human relationships, 2) with God especially in covenant relationship, f) peace (from war), g) peace (as adjective). [4]
As seen in the Psalm, peace is something that we should be actively trying to acquire. As you look a the definition, you can see how every aspect of it is the opposite of evil. If we don’t depart from evil, we will not be able to have peace.
As long as we don’t isolate the idea of peace to welfare, health, and prosperity, but look at it in its entirety, peace is something we can seek and pursue. There are many warnings in the Bible against making prosperity or riches the focus of our lives. We must especially pursue peace in our relationships. Ultimately, we must have peace in our relationship with God and that’s where the New Testament comes in.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Rom 5:1 KJV)
The Greek word used in the New Testament has some of the same description but is expanded because of the emphasis we have as Christians to have peace with God.
NT:1515 eireenee, eireenees, hee  peace,  1. a state of national tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war: Rev 6:4, 2. peace between individuals, i. e. harmony, concord: (Matt 10:34), 3. after the Hebrew  Shaalowm , security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (Luke 19:42), 4. Specifically, the Messiah's peace: (Luke 2:14), 5. according to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoerer sort that is: (Rom 8:6), 6. of the blessed state of devout and upright men after death (Rom 2:10).[5]
Most people are focused on the worldly concept of peace which is prosperity, quiet, and contentment. Even among Christians, this is the concept of peace and that we often pursue. It focuses on us and our feelings or comfort. However, Jesus said that He came to bring us peace but not like the world’s (John 14:27). Jesus brings us peace with God. Whatever may happen in the world is temporary, but our relationship with God is eternal. Either we will be at peace with God now and forever or we will be enemies of God now and for eternity (James 4:4). There is no middle road.
From God
Whether we are looking at grace, mercy, or peace, each comes from God the Father and Jesus. There is no way that we can conjure up these things in our natural selves. Unless we are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, by the will of God the Father, we can’t have these in our lives. Sure, there are people in the world who exhibit these characteristics to some extent, but it won’t be forever without knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
These come from God because He has called us to our salvation before the earth was even created (Eph 1:4). That means that before we existed, before we had breathed one breath, before we had sinned one sin, God decided that we should be saved by Jesus. That takes all the wind out of our sails to boast about how good we are or that we have somehow deserve to be save. That is grace and mercy. That provides us with peace.
They come from Jesus because He didn’t have to die on the cross for our sins even though it was predicted somewhere around 700 year before that He would take our sins upon Himself (Is 53). When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had the opportunity to seek another way, but knowing the will of the Father, He carried out the plan as originally designed (Matt 26:39).
Our hearts are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit who is given to us when we believe (Eph 1:13). That power is just as strong as God’s power. It is the same power God used to raise Jesus from the dead (Eph 1:19-20). Because our hearts are changed and we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we have that power now which enables us to have grace, mercy, and peace.

[1] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[2] from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.
[3] Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.
[4] from The Online Bible Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993, Woodside Bible Fellowship, Ontario, Canada. Licensed from the Institute for Creation Research.
[5] Ibid

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