THE GOOD NEWS OF GRACE AND PEACE
The Father's grace and peace are two wonderful aspects of his message to humanity. The grace and peace that the Father offers to those who will hear and heed his message are not only for this day and age, but is also for the time after the return of Jesus Christ and for all eternity.
GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE
The Creator God had always offered grace, mercy, and peace to his people; however, after he came to earth as Jesus Christ, he made known and offered a different kind of grace, mercy, and peace. This grace, mercy, and peace was spiritual as well as physical and was offered by his heavenly Father.
In many of the apostle Paul's letters we find greetings and blessings containing the phrase 'grace and peace' and 'grace, mercy and peace be upon you':
"To Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord" (1.Tim.1:2 KJV). See also 2.Tim.1:2; Tit.1:4; 2.Jn.3.
"To the church of God [God the Father] that is in Corinth, to those having been set apart for a holy purpose in Jesus Christ, called to be saints, with all others who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, both theirs and ours: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (1.Cor.1:2-3 Para.). See also 2.Cor.1:2.
"To all that be in Rome, beloved of the Sovereign God, called to be saints: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son" (Rom.1:7-9 Para.).
THE GOOD NEWS OF GRACE
"And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Except that the holy spirit witnesses in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither do I count my life dear to me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:22-24 Para.).
After Paul had preached and taught the Father's message for many years, he knew that his ministry was drawing to a close; thus, he went to Jerusalem knowing that he was about to lose his freedom and perhaps his life. Nevertheless, he went because he was thoroughly committed to the task he had been given. Notice that Paul calls this message the good news of the grace of God.
The good news message that Jesus, the apostles, and the early church proclaimed and taught concerning God the Father's grace is crucial to the gospel message, because God's grace, mercy, and compassion toward humanity is the foundation upon which salvation is based. It is because of the Father's grace, mercy, and compassion toward humanity that there is a good news message. It is because of the Father's grace, mercy, compassion, and great love for humanity that he allowed the Creator to come to earth in human form to save humanity from eternal death.
WHAT IS GRACE?
The English word 'grace' is derived for the Greek word 'charis', which has two basic meanings in the New Testament: 'favor shown to one who is undeserving of favor' and 'being favored with divine spiritual influence from God.'
The word 'grace' is used in regard to those who are called to salvation, and it refers to the divine favor of God toward these people. In some instances, it refers to being favored with God's spiritual influence in their lives.
When the word 'grace' is associated with the Father and Christ, it always has the implication of being given from them as a free and undeserved gift to the recipient.
Three Facts About Grace
1. Before or after Adam and Eve disobeyed the Creator's instructions was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the Father was not obligated to favor humanity with forgiveness of sin and salvation.
2. The Father's favor cannot be earned nor is it something that one deserves because of one's own effort.
3. The Father extends his favor to humanity because it is what he wants to give those for whom he has great concern, compassion, and love. See Jn.3:16.
THE FATHER'S GRACE AND MERCY
There is only one Sovereign God who is above all else that exists and he is the one who allowed the Creator to come to earth and sacrifice himself for humanity. When the decision was made concerning the method through which humanity would be able to have their violation of the law of God forgiven and receive redemption and salvation, there were only two immortal beings in existencethe Sovereign God and the Creator God.
The decision to allow the Creator God to divest himself of his immortality and become human not only placed the Creator's future existence in great jeopardy, it also had a tremendous impact upon the Sovereign God's future. If the Creator had failed in his mission, he would have died and ceased to exist forever, and the Sovereign God would have lost his closest friend and companion. The Father would have been the only immortal being in existence. He would have had no one like himself with whom to share eternity. The Sovereign's decision to allow the Creator to attempt to save humanity was a selfless act and shows a love of awesome proportions for humanity.
Human words or emotion cannot begin to adequately express the grace, mercy, compassion, and love that God the Father and Jesus Christ have for humanity. And words cannot adequately describe the price that the Father and his Son were willing to pay for our redemption and salvation.
Divine Favor Through Christ
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried saying, This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man has seen the Father at any time; however, the only begotten Son, that is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him" (Jn.1:14-18 Para.).
It is only through Jesus Christ that the good news of the Father's favor toward humanity is revealed, and only those who truly believe the message that Jesus brought from the Father have any hope of having the Father's favor bestowed upon them. This is because it is only through Jesus Christ that the Father's good news message is revealed:
"For God [the Sovereign God] so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God [the Sovereign God] sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (Jn.3:16-17 KJV). See Heb.2:6-10.
Paul Explains God's Grace
In his letter to the elect of God at Ephesus, the apostle Paul spoke of the great favor that the Father bestows upon all whom he calls to salvation.
Ephesians 1:1-9 Paraphrased
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, to the saints being in Ephesus, and being faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ" (vs.1-2).
Paul greets the elect at Ephesus with the blessing of the grace and peace that was being bestowed upon them from the Father through Jesus Christ who is the administrator of the Father's grace and peace to his earthly children.
"Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens with Christ: According to his choosing of us through Christ before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and without blemish before him [the Father] in love" (vs.3-4).
What Paul says to the Ephesians concerning being chosen before the foundation of the world is a very difficult concept to explain to anyone who does not have the spirit of God dwelling within them; nevertheless, it is true. God the Father has favored some people above others, calling them to participate in a better resurrection with better rewards than the rest of humanity and to have a special relationship with him that is not afforded to others. See our study papers concerning predestination and the rewards of the first resurrection:
"Having predestinated us to adoption [sonship in his family] through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he favored us in the beloved [Jesus], In whom we have redemption through his blood, that is the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of his grace [favor]; that he caused to abound toward us in all wisdom and understanding; making known to us the mystery of his [the Father's] will, according to his good pleasure which he proposed in himself" (vs.5-9).
Everyone deserves to die for their sins. No one deserves eternal or immortal life in the Family of God just because they are one of God's creations. It is only because of the Father's grace and great love for humanity that he extends his forgiveness and salvation to us.
Not only has the Father shown great favor to those he has predestined to be his sons before the foundation of the earth, but he also blesses them with spiritual knowledge and understanding and allows them to know his will concerning the salvation of and the purpose for humanity.
GRACE THROUGH CHRIST
"The Father worked in Christ, raising him from the deadyes he seated him at his right hand in heaven, Far above all principality, authority, power, lordship, and every name being named, not only in this age, but also in the coming age: and the Father put all things under his feet, and made him head over all things to the church, Which is his body" (Eph.1:19-23 Para.).
It is the Father who has the power to raise the dead and give positions of power and authority to those he calls to salvation. The Father has placed his Son, Jesus Christ, over all things except himself (See 1.Cor.15:25-27). It is the Sovereign Father who favored some with a call to salvation during the age of the Patriarchs, during the existence of ancient Israel, and during the age of the early church. And it is the Father who favors some today with the opportunity to understand his message of good news and participate in the first resurrection of the dead (Jn.6:44,65).
Ephesians 2:1-9 Paraphrased
"And he worked in you who were once dead because you disobeyed him and violated his law, as a way of life according to the ways of this world, and according to the ruler and authority of the air [Satan the Devil], the evil spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience: Among whom we also conducted ourselves in the past in the lusts of our flesh, doing the things willed of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as the rest" (vs.1-3).
Paul said to the elect children of God at Ephesus that, before they were saved, they were under the death penalty, awaiting execution for the violation of the law of God. This is the exact situation which all who are not spiritual sons of God are in. All of humanity past, present, and future are condemned to death and will die for all eternity unless they accept the Father's grace and mercy that is offered through the sacrificial blood of his Son Jesus Christ:
"But the Father, being rich in mercy, and because of his great love for us, who were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christby his grace you are being savedand he has raised us up, and has seated us together in heaven in Christ Jesus: That he might show in ages to come the exceedingly great riches of his grace in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (vs.4-7).
In his great mercy, the Father has favored a few undeserving individuals in the past and is favoring a few today with forgiveness of sin and witnesses of his great love and compassion for his creatures, in order for them to serve him in his plan for the salvation of all humanity:
"For by grace you are saved through faith; and not of yourselves; it is a gift from the Father; and comes not through your own efforts. . ." (vs.8-9). See also Acts 15:10-11; Rom.3:22-25; Tit.3:5.
Paul also said that it is not because of a person's own efforts that the Father extends the opportunity for redemption during the gospel age of salvation; he does so for his own purpose:
"Then do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God; he having saved us, and having called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, given to us in Jesus before eternal times" (2.Tim.1:8-9 Para.).
THE GIFT OF GOD'S GRACE
"But death reigned from the time of Adam until the time of Moses, even over those who had not disobeyed like Adam. Moses being a type of the coming Christ. However, the gift of grace is not unlike the transgression; in that by the transgression of Adam many died, so much more by the grace of the Father, and his gift that is in the one man Jesus Christ overflows to many. Again, the gift of grace is also unlike the condemnation that followed Adam's transgression.
The gift [i.e., the Father's favor to undeserving humanity] shall not have the same result as Adam's transgression that caused condemnation to come upon all people. For if by the transgression of Adam death reigned, how much more will life reign for those who are receiving the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness to rule in their life through Christ" (Rom.5:14-17 Para.).
Here, Paul reveals that, before Moses, people had no hope of life after death, because there was no method by which a person could obtain salvation. Moses came as a type of Christ--a deliverer and law giver (Acts 7:35-38). Through Moses, God revealed his plan for the salvation of humanity through the prophetic meaning of his sacrificial worship system and commanded observances.
Paul also shows us that Adam's disobedience brought the penalty of eternal death upon all his descendants, and that it is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that one has the opportunity to have one's death penalty removed and obtain eternal salvation.
The Father caused humanity to come into existence (the gift of life). Another great gift from the Father is his grace toward us, in wanting to save us from eternal death. If it were not for his grace toward us, we would be executed for the violation of his law and cease to exist forever. But because of his gift of grace, we have the opportunity to exist forever as a son in his divine family.
THE PROMISE OF GRACE
"For God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your cares upon him; for he cares for you" (1.Pet.5:5-7 KJV). See also Jms.4:5-6.
The Father is extremely concerned for humanity and it is his intention to offer salvation to all people. He promises to place those who respond in a positive manner to his message of grace under his care and protection and reward them for their obedience to him at the appropriate time.
THE GOOD NEWS OF PEACE
Most people want to live a peaceful life. Most want to have peace of mind and peace and harmony between themselves and other people. However, in order to have true peace of mind and harmony between themselves and others, people need to feel secure from harm (have personal safety), have the necessities of life supplied (food, clothing and shelter), and have love and respect for and from others.
In all of human history there has been very little true peace. The search and struggle for a peaceful existence is one of the most elusive and seemingly unobtainable goals of humanity. Instead of peace, humanity has lived most of its history in great anxiety and conflict, never obtaining true peace. Why is this so?
Long ago the prophet Isaiah was inspired to reveal the reason why there has been very little peace in the past and why there is no true peace today:
"The way of peace they do not know; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace" (Isa.59:8 KJV). See also Rom.3:10-18.
Simply put, the vast majority of people do not know how to obtain true personal peace of mind or peace between themselves and other people. "They do not know the way to peace." Part of the good news message from the Father concerns how to not only have peace of mind (inner peace) but also how to live in peace with other people.
TWO GREAT OPPOSITES
There are two great opposites in the world today concerning most people's desire for love, joy, and peace in their lives, and the stark reality of the world that we live in. The apostle Paul mentioned these two oppositesthe natural way of life and Gods way of lifeto the church at Galatia as he encouraged them to continue in their progress toward spiritual maturity.
The Natural Way of Life
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal.5:19-21 NIV).
We could also add to this list of sinful things; war, famine, disease, destruction of the family, and many, many other things that are the opposite of what people really want to be a part of their life experience. The things noted above are all the result of human behavior that is in opposition to God's laws.
God's Way of Life
"But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Gal.5:22-23 NIV).
Notice that the fruit (the result) of having God's spirit provides the things that most people want in their life. However, in order for these things to become a reality in one's life, one must truly believe the good news message from the Father concerning how to come into conformity with his perfect laws. Then, one must act upon this belief in a positive manner. Once this happens, all of the above benefits that are promised by the Father can become a reality in one's life.
ENEMIES OF GOD
It is extremely important to understand that anyone who violates the law of God is considered an enemy of God the Father. And unless reconciliation and peace are made between the violator of the law and God the Father, the violator must and will be put to eternal death according to the law of God:
"Do you not know that friendship with the world is the same as hatred of God? Whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (Jms.4:4 Para.).
"But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be like the beauty of the pastures: they are consumed; like smoke they are consumed away" (Psa.37:20 Para.).
"For, lo, your enemies, O Lord, for, lo, your enemies shall perish; all the workers of lawlessness shall be scattered" (Psa.92:9 Para.).
"For the wages of sin is death;. . ." (Rom.6:23 KJV).
THEN AND NOW
A very important aspect of the good news of peace concerns peace between former enemiesGod the Father and the sinner.
Prior to the advent of Jesus Christ, there was no way to gain forgiveness of sin and no way that a person could make lasting peace with God the Father. All stood condemned under the law; all were doomed to eternal death, because there was no method by which a person could petition God the Father for forgiveness of sin in order to make peace with him.
Because of the Father's great love for humanity, he has extended his grace and mercy to us and offered to make peace with us through the sacrifice of his Son. Now, lasting peace can be made between a sinner and God the Father. When a person is reconciled with the Father and at peace with him, that person is entitled to eternal life through the life of Christ. See Rom.5:10.
God The Father and Jesus Christ knew that humanity would eventually come under the dominion of the law and have to pay the penalty for its violation; therefore, their plan for humanity included a method by which people could escape eternal death, become a part of the Family of God, and live forever:
"For whoever shall call upon the name of the lord shall be saved. How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the good news of peace, and bring good news of good things!" (Rom.10:13-15 Para.).
The good news message of peace that Jesus brought from the Father, is the Father's offer to have mercy on the violators of his law, forgive their sins, and remove their death penalty through the sacrificial blood of his Son. This offer of reconciliation and peace is not the same as was offered by the Creator God to the Patriarchs and to national Israel at Mount Sinai. This offer of peace, if accepted and honored by the recipient, will last during this physical life and for all eternity.
THE GOD OF PEACE
The Sovereign Father is a God of peace. It is his earnest desire to have peace between himself and people. It is also his desire for people to live in peace with each other and reap the benefits that only true peace brings to those who are peaceful:
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Heb.13:20-21 KJV).
The Sovereign Father (the God of peace) who resurrected Jesus from the dead is the one who is working to perfect those he calls to salvation. Also notice what Paul said about the peace that comes from the God of Peace:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say again, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything; but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ. . . Whatever you have learned, or received, or heard from me, or seen in meput into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Phil.4:4-9 NIV).
One of the reasons the peace that comes from God transcends all understanding is that this peace has a spiritual and eternal quality. This peace from God transcends the temporal physical realm. The Father's peace gives one an assurance of well being and tranquillity that reaches beyond this life into eternity. This peace is perfect peace and harmony with the Father and his Family and Kingdom forever. This is the kind of peace that God the Father promises those who will believe the good news that he sent his Son to proclaim.
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the holy spirit" (Rom.15:13 KJV).
"Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen" (Rom.15:33 KJV).
The good news of peace from the Father has great meaning in today's reality where there is very little mental or physical peace. The peace that comes from the Father is a dynamic peace that has the potential to change one's life for the better when it is internalized into one's thought process and behavior toward God and people.
PEACE FROM THE FATHER THROUGH CHRIST
Isaiah, Ezekiel, David, and Micah all spoke of Jesus Christ as being a peacemaker sent from God. Isaiah said that among his other titles and responsibilities, Jesus Christ would be the Prince of Peace:
"For to us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa.9:6 KJV).
The prophets also foretold that after Jesus Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth, he will make a covenant with national Israel to ensure their national and personal safety within their land.
"Therefore I will save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey;. . . And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it. And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods" (Ezk.34:22-25 KJV).
"The Lord will give strength to his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace" (Psa.29:11 KJV).
"For evildoers shall be cut off: but those who wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be; yes, you shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psa.37:9-10 KJV). See also Psa. 128:1-6; 147:11-15; Isa.26:1-3, 10-12; 32:17-18.
"And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people. . . And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [government], says the Lord" (Isa.65:21-25 KJV).
Micah 4:1-4 Paraphrased
"But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the government of the house of the Lord shall be established above all great governments, and it shall be exalted above all lesser governments; and people shall come to it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the government of the Lord, and the house of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth out of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (vs.1-2).
The covenant of peace that God will make with Israel will also be extended to other nations as they submit themselves to the rule of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isa.9:6; Rom.16:20), who represents God the Father, the God of Peace in heaven (Rom.15:13; Phil.4:7,9).
"And he [Jesus Christ] shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords [weapons] into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But every one shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken" (vs.3-4).
RECONCILIATION WITH THE FATHER
While encouraging the elect of God at Rome, Ephesus, and Colosse, Paul spoke of reconciliation with God the Father, redemption of humanity, and access to the Father through the blood of Christ:
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely will a person die for a righteous person: and perhaps for a good person some would might dare to die. But God [the Father] commends his love to us, that while we were living in sin, Christ died for us. Much more, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved through him from God's wrath. For if, being enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom.5:6-10 Para.). See also Jms.4:4.
There are a number of things that Paul said here that are extremely important to understand:
1. When Paul spoke of us being without strength, he was saying that prior to the advent of Jesus Christ we were powerless to escape the death penalty that hung over our heads as a result of our being guilty of breaking the law of God.
2. Even though humanity was living in sin (violation of God's law) and rebellion against all that Jesus Christ held to be good and sacred, Jesus extended his love to us and gave his life to save us from eternal death.
3. Jesus paid the price for our violation of God's law; he substituted his own life for ours and provided for our release from the death penalty. Any who will believe in what Christ did for them and ask for his blood to be applied against their sins will be made innocent before the Father; they will become sinless before the Father.
4. Even though we were the Father's enemy because of our violation of his law, he allowed his only Son to die in our place in order to reconcile us to himself.
5. Not only did Christ die for us, he also holds the keys to our salvation (i.e., eternal life instead of eternal death).
Again, it is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (the Creator God) that we are reconciled to God the Father and have our death sentence removed:
"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1.Cor.15:14 KJV). See also 1.Cor.15:3-4.
If Christ had not risen from the dead, we would be lost without any hope of salvation. This is also a very important point because it shows that not only did Christ have to die for our sins but also he had to be brought back to life in order for us to be saved.
The New Creation
"So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new! And all things are of God [God the Father], the one having reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ,. . . Whereas the Father was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not charging their trespasses to them; and putting the word [the word of God i.e., Christ] of reconciliation in us" (2.Cor.5:17-19 Para.).
Because of Christ's sacrifice, we are reconciled to the Father and have eternal peace with him in his Family and Kingdom. Moreover, we are made into a new creature at the time of our adoption as his spiritual son. See our studies concerning spiritual adoption and the new creation.
National Israel and Other People
Another thing that the sacrificial blood of Christ did through the reconciliation aspect of his blood was remove the barrier that was erected between national Israel and other people as a result of the Mount Sinai covenant.
Ephesians 2:11-18 Paraphrased
"Therefore remember, that you were in the past Gentiles after the flesh, who are called the Uncircumcision [not Israelites] by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands [other nations did not have a national covenant with God]; That at that time you were without Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants [agreements] of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (vs.11-12).
The ancient nation of Israel were God's chosen people. They were considered his children and were to be a nation of priests that would represent him to other nations. Because of this, they were given preferential treatment as a nation and as individuals before God. They had direct access to God because of who they were. Although other nations and individuals were allowed to worship God and receive the benefits from this relationship, they did not have a national agreement with God as the Israelites did.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who were far off are made near by the blood of Christ" (v13).
Through his sacrifice as the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ canceled many of the restrictions that were placed between God and people other than Israelites.
"For he is our peace, he made us both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; and canceled through his flesh the enmity [hostility, the barrier between], the law of commandments in decrees; that he might in himself create one new man, out of two, making peace; And might reconcile both in one body [the body of Christ, i.e., the church] to the Father through the cross, killing the enmity [hostility, the barrier between] in himself. And when he came he preached peace to you, the ones afar off, and to the ones near. For through him we both have access by one spirit to the Father" (vs.14-18). See also Eph.3:1-6).
Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all who desire to worship God in truth now have direct access to the Father through the power of the holy spirit that is placed within them regardless of national or racial origin. The extremely good news is that now, during the gospel age, those called by God to salvation not only have access to Jesus Christ (the Creator God) but also to God the Father (the Sovereign God).
Colossians 1:12-23 Paraphrased
"Always be thankful to the Father, who has made us fit to share all the wonderful things that belong to those who live in light: For he has rescued us from the power of Satan's darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption in his blood, through which we receives forgiveness of all our sins" (vs.12-14).
Paul encourages those who have had the wonderful truth of the redemptive power of Christ's sacrificial blood revealed to them to be thankful, because they have been rescued and given the opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God. It is very important to understand this aspect of the gospel message, because it is only through the blood of Christ that these things are possible.
"Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God, [God the Father] and he is the first born of all the Father's creatures: Christ existed before the Father made anything at all, and, in fact, Christ is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can't; whether they are thrones, or dominions, or rulers and authorities: all were made by Christ for the Father's use and glory" (vs.15-16). See also Eph.3:9.
"Christ was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together. He is the head of the body, made up of his people [that is the church]: he is the beginning, the first to arise from the dead; so that he is first in everything; for the Father wanted all that is good of himself to be in his Son" (vs.17-19).
To understand Christ and his love for us is to understand the Father and his love for us. He, who was the Creator God of all that exists came to earth as a human in order to reconcile us to the Father so that we might have eternal life:
"It is through his Son's blood that drained from his body on the cross, that the Father reconciled all things whether they be in heaven or on earth to himself and has made peace with us. This includes you who were so far away from God. You were once the Father's enemies and you hated him, and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now you are reconciled to him" (vs.20-21).
The good news is that those who are now enemies of the Father can make peace with him and become his friend and his son through true belief in the redemptive power of the blood of his Son Jesus Christ:
"He has done this through the death of his Son who lived in the flesh in order to present you to himself in a pure and righteous condition. As a result you stand before the Father's presence holy, sinless and blameless of anything. If you continue to believe and practice the truth, firmly standing in it and refuse to be moved out of the hope that is in the good news [Christ], that you have heard. . ." (vs.22-23).
The grace and peace that is offered by the Father to humanity is indeed good news. What better news could there be than to know that one can have their sins forgiven and have life after death? There would seem to be no better news than this; however, there is! Later, this study will show that there is even more good news from the Father concerning his Son and the salvation for humanity.
The apostles often spoke of the unmerited grace and peace that both the Father and Christ bestow upon those who believe and accept the opportunity that they are being offered to participate in the first resurrection and become kings and priests in the divine Family of God.
The apostles Peter and Paul summarize the tremendous blessing provided through the Father's grace and mercy, and encourage the elect of God to avail themselves of these awesome and wonderful gifts from the Father:
2.Peter 1:2-10 KJV
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us to glory and virtue:" (vs.2-3).
"Whereby are given to us exceedingly great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (v4).
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; And to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity" (vs.5-7).
"For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v8).
"But he that lacks these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Therefore, rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall" (vs.9-10).
Philippians 4:6-7 Paraphrased
"Do not be anxious about anything; but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your request be known to the Father. And the peace of the Father, that surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." See also Rom.8:31.
By B.L. Cocherell, file b1w5