February 15, 2010

This is the true Grace of God: 1 Peter 4-5

"Helping Hand" by Linda Williams"

Sunday was filled with so much activity as my husband and I prepared to leave our 4 little ones with my parents for the week. We hustled and bustled going over the last minute checklists, throwing things in bags as we walked out the door-  and I still managed to leave the baby's bottle on the counter. But I digress. In all of that I felt peace -the  peace I had in their extended grace of watching the children was assuring. A few hours later, in the air, waching the sun descend like a fiery ball into an horizon of clouds, I was again filled with peace, because of my acceptance of my parents' graciousness.

It was early this Monday morning that I read over yesterday's scripture . I love spending time with God at the dawn of the day. It is such a peaceful time, and happens to be one of the only moments when everyone is asleep, and in the quiet, still, half -light, I can tune into God without the external distractions of the everyday. ( and again I digress)

Now, 1 Peter 5:12 intrigued me mostly because of Peter's tone. It was very real and gentle like a father to child, maybe. I don't know, but something about the fact that he takes the time to write simply to encourage the saints about what they believe in, touched me.

12With 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. ( NIV)

Well, my next response was "What is the true grace of God?"

In Titus 2:11-13, grace is doing two things: bringing and teaching. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in the present age..."
 The true grace of God brings something- salvation. The true grace of God teaches something- to deny ungodliness ( repent, or turn away) and to live soberly, righteously, and godly ( Holiness-which can only be achieved with the help of God's Spirit).
If grace is bringing us something, what is the response?
Peter answers this in a previous chapter. 
1 Peter 3:21 (New Living Translation)
21 And that water  [in the days of Noah] is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response of a good conscience to God . It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
     So the response of a good conscience to God is baptism, which now saves us. Ephesians 2:8 tells us "by grace we have been saved through faith." Faith, then , is what enables us to respond to what grace brings us and teaches us. Romans 5:2 tells us that through Jesus, "we have access by faith, into this grace, in which we stand." Faith gives us access to grace. The  faith-driven response, according to 1 Peter 3:21, to what grace offers, is repentance (turning away from your own ways) & baptism . The first thing Peter said after being baptized in the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, was " Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy spirit ( Acts 2:38).

Just as our voice enables us, gives us the power to communicate, faith gives us the ability to respond to grace. Our voice in of itself is not the response, but rather what we say with our voice. Likewise, faith is not the response, but rather the vehicle enabling our conscience to respond to God's grace, which saves us.
God, who moves by his own principles, also responds through baptism- baptism of the Holy spirit, which is initially evidenced by the "upload" if you will, of the new family language.

So the "this" the saints are encouraged to stand in is the offer and the teaching of grace, which is salvation through repentance and holiness, achieved through responding by faith to what grace offers and teaches.

Acts 2:37-38

37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

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