Editor's Letters

by T. Austin-Sparks

September 1927

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 habitation.

"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 Divine Favour.

"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 understanding.

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,
T. Austin-Sparks
T. Madoc-Jeffreys.

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