Beloved of our Lord,
Two New Covenant words, sealed in His Blood to you, - "grace" and
"peace"; but always His grace, and His peace.
This was the common salutation of our first brethren. It is
suggested that these two words formed the "symbolum" or password of
the early Christians. And if so, what more fitting, because what
more true? But whether so or not, this was the manner of Paul's
greeting in every church letter - "Grace be unto you, and
peace..." He wrote, of course, as a minister of Christ, and these
words contain the essential message of that ministry. The good news
from heaven is of the kindness and "philanthropy" of God our Saviour
toward man (Titus 3:4). This is grace: and with it comes the
inevitable peace. But these words are now celestial in their
meaning, and neither tongues of men nor of angels can convey their
message unless the Holy Spirit speak them in our heart. It is from
God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ they come, and He, the
Spirit, Who comes from them must speak them. "Grace be unto
you, and peace!"
Yet they were derived from the common every-day language of that
time, for it is the Holy Spirit's way thus to take the commonplace
and to glorify it, to take the clay and fashion it for His
"Grace" from the every-day greeting of the Greek, a word signifying
joy. Matthew tells how the Lord when He met the women hurrying with
their news of resurrection hailed them, "Rejoice!" (Matt. 28:9). But
"grace" covers the whole range of greeting, Giver and gift: message,
Messenger, and mediation. The "All hail!" of God includes all the
"Peace" from the every-day greeting of the Jew. John gives us the
first word of the Risen Lord to His disciples, His assembled church,
as then gathered to His Name, - "Peace be unto you!" (John 20:19).
It is the salaam of the East.
The Holy Spirit has taken these two salutations and transfigured
them into the Christian greeting. It is the greeting of the Risen
Christ to His church. He brings with Him, out of the triumph of His
Cross, all grace: grace of forgiveness, grace of acceptance, grace
of faith and righteousness, and of love: grace of God infinite in
Himself. And with the grace there comes peace that surpasseth all
Notice that the salutation is not complete in itself: with it are
always linked the Divine source and emphasis, - "from God the
Father and Jesus Christ our Lord." As the blessing is a unity so
also is the Source. The Father and the Son come in One Spirit. It is
the grace of God, the peace of God, but both as Father and Son in
One Spirit. Of this "Fulness" are we invited to receive.
It was a morning and an evening greeting. Joy came to men and women
who had spent nights of weeping for a vanished and seemingly
vanquished Lord. He was in the tomb, and their faith seemed vain.
But early that morning He came with the word of heavenly salutation,
and their night of doubt and despair was for ever past. Then in the
evening He stood into the midst, and there was "Peace."
This seems to be significant for this whole day of grace in which
His church is waiting for the full manifestation of His Glory to
them and in them.
Our full day of Glory has not yet come. The Day Star has not yet
arisen within our hearts. But the Morning Star, herald of that
Daybreak has already come. Christ, risen and ascended, has come by
His Spirit, into our hearts with all the resources of God's grace.
And then as shadows of evening gather, the evil hour of anti-Christ
thickens around us in the confusion and fear of this prolonged
waiting time, He breathes His wonderful "Peace" into our spirit, and
despite the denials of Satan we know that our Redeemer liveth!
Thus shall He find us awaiting His "parousia" - His "Coming."
And so He says the words. If He hails us with "Grace!" and
bids us "Peace!" what more can heart desire? Let us enter His
Jerusalem, the City of His Peace, and of the Living God.
Yours through grace, and in peace,