Grace and Peace Multiplied
2Peter 1:2 kjv
Grace and peace multiplied. Could it be as simple as this? The more I recognize what it is and acknowledge the righteousness of God and Lord, the more at grace and peace I will be? Why then is not everyone familiar?
"Because the carnal mind is enmity (hostile) against God..." kjv@Romans:8:7
To this very day I can still recall the feeling of this enmity in my mind prior to this "obtaining". It felt as if God and I were like magnets turned onside, pushing so hard against one another so that we could not be brought together. The closer HE got to me, the further I would move away from HIM, so it seemed. Turned magnetic face to face, what was once irresistibly opposed to, the very same two objects now become irresistibly attracted towards each other.
Perhaps you have sensed this opposition in the eyes of a wild horse about to be broken and tamed. The horse desires for his feral impulse to remain unchallenged. It is the trainer's intention to bring the foal into a grace and peace with its greater purpose.
Let's consider two separate forms of grace and peace, grace and peace with God, grace and peace with the world. The world is much like the wild horse. It knows no better. It does not have the experience of anything more. Grace and peace with God Jehovah is a foreign and mysterious thing to it. Like the horse, this world is even willing to resort to violence if corralled and cornered. But why is this? Is it because of who is in charge and who then is not?
The Apostle James wrote "...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God " kjv@James:4:4. Well there's that word "enmity" again. Grace and peace with God and Lord is a fearful mysterious thing. The natural instinct is to resist it at all costs. Doesn't God intend something much better for each of us? Isn't our typical reaction to God then a feral impulse?
- Our first task in this next section of commentary is to develop this idea of "Grace" and "Peace" being "multiplied":
- Grace meaning God's gracious manner or act causing a grateful influence over us. (see: dict:strongs G5485 )
- Peace meaning a joining back together or setting as one again. (see: dict:strongs G1515 )
- Multiplied meaning substantial increase. (see: dict:strongs G4129 )
Influence upon the redeemed heart, setting it as one, whatever these are, the indication is that they are ever-increased through our knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. Knowledge here means to recognize and or acknowledge. What is being recognized and acknowledged is what connects us back to the original statement of the "righteousness of God and our Savior".
Of Enmity - A First Hand Look
I would like to share with you an experience I once had with enmity that first reopened my eyes to its human size and shape and significance. Until this odd occurrence, I had not made the connection of it to Peter's statement of grace and peace.
My wife and I were in New Orleans with friends and family the night before embarking on a Caribbean cruise from that port. We decided to take a stroll early evening through the French Quarter before all the drunks and crazies infiltrated. About sun down, as we were preparing to leave, I came upon a group of Christian men from Baton Rouge setting themselves up right outside the club, out in the middle of the pedestrian street, with a tall wooden cross. They stood with arms locked around that cross silent unless inquired of. The Cross of Christ Jesus was left to do all of the talking. I stepped out to meet and speak with them. What I saw ensue there made immediate connections between the stark evidences of world's spiritual enmity to the better meaning of Peter's grace and peace multiplied statement.
Enmity was coming at this cross from all directions, believe me; even directions that I did not expect. These men were spit on, called every single name in the book, laughed at and scorned. Yet they remained silent, perhaps an occasional bible verse or a quiet hymn hummed acappella. As I spoke to one of them, getting to know better their courageous story, I too became the object of the passing crowd's many insults. I even observed what I believe to be demonic activity. It was not this expected type of reaction, however, that most disturbed me.
It was not just the anti cross pagans that made it very clear that we (now I am included) had no business making such a spectacle in the Quarter. There are Christians that respond to this and similar occurrences even years later with "What was it we expected"? That Cross at sunset on Bourbon Street offends their Christian sensibilities by provoking the masses to anger, disturbing the civil peace, putting other Christians' image and safety in danger.
Later, in the bedtime comfort of our dock side hotel, I had chance to gather my thoughts and draw my mind to a more meaningful conclusion. I thought of Apostles such as Paul and Peter and John, peaceful and loving men; uncompromising men nonetheless. I doubt very much whether the modern Church would associate with these men if they were still among us. Trouble and unrest followed wherever they went. Their lives were in jeopardy and hunted everywhere they went, as was the safety of those devotees around them.
We tend to diminish the enmity the world has to the grace and peace of God Jehovah, place it on a level where everyone should just get along. The level where the world is willing to get along, however, is the level where the grace and peace of God no longer has any substance. Conversely, It is that level of grace and peace with the world that God Jehovah is at enmity with.
Like the apostles before them, these courageous men did not seek the grace and peace of this world. They planted a simple wood cross in the heart of New Orleans and clung to it. It was the Cross that drew in the hostile fire of this world towards it from all sides and factions; including shots from several Christians. Not that such treatment is deserved, but that such aversion is expected. Christians that seek to be at grace and peace with the world refuse to see the Cross in this light. They take immediate offense to the other saints who do. They tend to blame those faithful men and women for the uncomfortable distance real grace and peace puts them in.
Thus, the grace and peace of God and Savior and the enmity that the world has with it was most aptly illustrated. It is to mean being at grace and peace no matter what danger such a relationship might put one in with the world.
Of "...my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you" kjv@John:14:27
"Grace and peace" is a very common greeting in Peter's culture, other apostles have used the phrase in their introductory writings as well. If left to that we wouldn't need to take further notice. However, "...multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord " makes this common greeting much more of a theological statement and therefore worthy of much contemplation.
The world certainly does have a grace and peace of its own. It is a grace and peace living without Jehovah in full measure, with or without god's of its own imagination and choosing, at comfort with its fallen nature even to the point of exalting it. To be at grace and peace with it means to get along with it, not be at odds nor intolerant with it, to live and promote it at every occasion. As once put, it means not only to glory in such things, but pleasure in those who do the same as well. If Peter here means grace and peace with the world, what business on earth would the EpignosisKnowledge "of God and our Lord Jesus Christ" have multiplying it?
Surely, We are not talking about something intended to take the peace that the world already has and make it better or make more of it. Understand that the two are at complete enmity with each other. If, however, grace and peace with God and Jesus is meant, then that kind of grace and peace is something new and divinely given.
The simple fact is that God desires grace and peace with us. We should desire grace and peace with HIM. In order for this to occur, several important things about our relationship to HIM have to change. These are changes that in the past times, before this "obtaining", we would have taken much offense to and strongly resisted and or would have attempted to change ourselves. Grace and peace with God first and foremost means to be at grace and peace with change; changes HE makes in us. Enter then the necessity of increasing the EpignosisKnowledge, the recognition and acknowledgment, of the person and work of God and Christ.
The righteousness of God and Savior has made it possible for us now to come to grace and peace in a very real sense. It is a grace and peace that would not be possible for us any other way. THEIR righteousness has brought about the regeneration of the spirit that has long been dead within us. The sacrifice of Christ's own blood purges us from the sins we have long carried in us. The purchasing of our souls from the clutches of sin and death, the imputing of Christ's righteousness over top of us making us right with God, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit to set us apart and to guide us and to comfort us, the calling to further glory and virtue, all of these gigantic changes are necessary before there can be any hope of any real grace and peace. Only the righteousness of God and Savior can do all of this for us.
Before we even knew that God and Savior were doing all of this, THEY had already procured this possibility for change. Divine mercy and grace are the key components of this righteousness that have made this great thing possible. We were not looking for this righteousness. We do not deserve this grace and peace. It is all given by their mercy and grace. It is not a grace and peace as the world would know or want; not in any way shape or form.
The experience of this grace and peace also multiplies within us. There are several ways to think of this, one that we grow into it, or that it grows within us. Another is that the effect of it compounds or that its full effect comes in stages. I look back on my own experience of it and I see it as a bridge crossing a stream. I cross over the rushing torrents via several strategically placed stepping stones. The closer I get to the other side, the further I get from the first. With each step I've had to trust and depend on God and Savior more and more, being both in their grace and peace and now moving even closer and closer to the full experience.
One will find that there are many such stepping stones along the path to greater grace and peace there to try us. It is not just a one time step forward for us into grace and peace, neither is the process stagnate. We should never think of it as being worked for or earned. Our experience of it though nearly has to be tested for us to know what it actually is. It comes in stages, with sacrifices, each step challenging, stretching us beyond our current bounds. Grace and peace becomes an active and cooperative process. Therefore, in this sense it multiplies.
Let me put this a better way, we have to take what we already recognize and acknowledge about God and Savior and step forward another step with it in order to be able to recognize and acknowledge even more. Grace and peace multiply by the EpignosisKnowledge of God and Lord Jesus.
Of "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me". kjv@Mark:8:34
So what else can we say about this grace and peace?
When Jesus called Peter (Simon at that time), Jesus asked Simon to leave behind his wife, his dad, his nets and boats, surrender up his entire life to that point. Jesus offered very little indication of where Simon would be heading, or when he would be back, or even if he would be back. All that was left to Simon was to trust Jesus (whom he had just met). Maybe this then is another way to explain grace and peace initially: overwhelming trust in Jesus.
I am sure that it was not Simon himself that came up with this immediate overwhelming trust, it was Jesus who instilled this trust into Simon (now called Peter). It is this same Jesus that instills this same overwhelming trust into us, like unto Peter's, like unto the Apostles, and so precious.
Now Jesus does not always call everyone to the same drastic actions. He does in the ultimate respect require complete surrender, but not in the same illustrative way. I recall Paul exhorting one of his congregations to stay in the station of life where they were first called ( kjv@1Corinthians:7:20). Oftentimes that station is just as difficult. If they were farmers, they were to remain farmers. Married, remain married. Slaves, remain slaves. That is not to say that they are not disciples and apostles of Christ, ambassadors of the gospel. It is to mean that they are to be this "like precious" form of servant to Jesus Christ from within their present stations of life. In so doing, they will still surrender all of themselves just as much as Peter did to Christ. These stations of godly service require an overwhelming trust in Jesus as well, especially the more extreme of them.
Of Trust - Many Smaller Stepping Stones
If you look well into Simon Peter's life, you will find that there were several of these grace and peace building "stepping stones" that Jesus asked of him. There was even a time when he was brought to step out upon nothing but turbulent waters. Peter of course exhibited his humanness and was prone to direct contradiction and presumptive foolishness. Yet the two friends pressed forward toward a most admirable relationship. Through it all, Peter was guided to a better recognition and the livable acknowledgment of just who and just how real Jesus and God are. The stones he eventually had crossed then made him capable of crossing the stones yet to come.
Consider this, Simon Peter was well aware of one major step ahead of him in the future. Jesus revealed to Peter later on of a baptism similar to His own that this future Apostle would be baptized into: martyrdom for His name's sake. Imagine having to come to grace and peace with that. This would not be a grace and peace that any mortal would come to naturally. Jesus approached Peter in smaller steps for this. Peter approached Jesus in even smaller, often childlike, steps. The two hearts would someday meet in the middle to accomplish this much larger step.
Let's remind ourselves that the object of our trust is better focused on God and Lord rather than what might happen to us. It is to say that no matter what should happen, it is our God and Lord that we will ultimately rely on to see us through. While Peter was writting this epistle to us, there were a whole lot of pressures personally still on his plate, the types of pressures that the majority of us rather like to avoid. Yet, his focus fixated on the gracious influence that God was having on his heart and its reflections of life. Our focus should be much like his.
Life means something different to Peter now under this righteous influence. He sees things in terms of God's divine power having given him all things pertaining to life and godliness. He sees things in terms of a calling to Christ's glory and virtue, as promises made and fulfilled, allowing for his and our escape from the corruptions of this world, the ability to share in the benefit of Christ's most holy nature. He has every reason to be diligent about moving this obtained faith forward into his daily walk. By now, having this gracious influence, he can respond with extraordinary courage, rational reason, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and sacrificial love. He can see a fruitful abundance building up around him as he makes his way toward the Eternal Kingdom, giving him a most blessed assurance. It is this epignosis of his righteous God and Lord that is multiplying his grace and peace. This acquired/obtained sense can be our's also: "like" and "precious".
This modern age seems to expect grace and peace to appear as something more like calm and quiet, no trouble from without and no trouble from within, smooth sailing. Christians of Peter's day had nothing of the like. Society hunted them down, oppressed and persecuted them; at times most savagely. What the "like precious faith" asked of these men and women was to come to an additional grace and peace with God regardless of what was to happen. One of the last things Jesus had told His disciples was:
John 15:18-21 kjv
To disciples of the earlier ages "grace and peace" had a different meaning then than it has for most people today. "Grace and peace" was much more about God and Christ and what God and Christ were doing. It was about the powerful influence that the Godhead was having, bringing like precious believers together under divine wing. Despite all the world's resistance against these believers, God's influence and unification was substantial and multiplying. Grace and peace are not what everyone else would expect to feel in a similar troublesome position about their present truth and condition. It is where God and Christ are found in the confluence of all this corruption by believers more familiar with HIS righteousness.
When we speak of being at grace and peace in this modern-day, sad to say it has more to do with our finances or with our relationships or psyche or emotional stability. Grace and peace like this are for but a moment and a moment later what we thought we had is fleeting. For some, grace and peace are an expectation we place upon others, it is their responsibility to put us at grace and peace and keep us there, be it a parent or a spouse or a pastor or political party; and it is their fault if we are not. For others, grace and peace are for a date always in the future. Rarely does it have anything to do with what God has already done or is doing. In that case, what we are really trying to do is manufacture a grace and peace based upon our own requirements and comfort levels. Not the same things Peter here is talking about.
I think it better to say that because I know God and Savior to be righteous in these many manifold ways, because I am coming to know more and more of who THEY are and how THEY operate, yes I am at grace and peace with THEM, and yes that grace and peace is multiplying even in the face of any stepping stones THEY still have for me to cross".
Of The Embodiment Of Grace and Peace
Before Christ came and proved Himself, men and women around the world would greet one another with some form similar to this wish for grace and peace. Many have continued in the same vein ever since. Sincere and neighborly though they are, what is it they mean by that? Do they mean be at grace and peace with the way one's life is in rebellion to God's? To be at grace and peace with one's spiritual lifelessness and dirtiness. To be at grace and peace about accepting the ways of the world?
For some people grace and peace are a grace and peace with the Law of Moses; which no man has ever been able to completely keep; Law is his constant accuser. For others, it is relief from whatever present trouble that they are seeking grace and peace about. What if that trouble is actually the light of the pesky truth trying to break through our bleak darkness? Should we be at grace and peace about trying to hide ourselves from that light? It can be a very tricky thing this grace and peace.
Christ, when He finally entered into the picture, became for us the embodiment of grace and peace. By the ransom price paid with His own blood He is for us grace and peace. Jesus Christ is the gracious manner and act causing divine influence upon the heart and its reflections of life. Jesus Christ is the vehicle, the intermediary, setting us back in the same room one together again with the Father.
I would venture to guess that the majority of people around us do not have this influence and union upon them. I would venture that in some shape or fashion or degree they are all at enmity with the very notion. Without Christ there is none of this influence or rejoining, there is only the Law. Grace and peace of this magnitude are only embodied in Christ Jesus.
Of An Often Overlooked Fact
There is another consideration that we must give to this "grace and peace" before we move on. This is essential to the larger picture.
It is easy for us to get caught considering this from only our human vantage point, the grace and peace we now feel towards God. Yes it is important in a certain sense to ask ourselves: are we at grace and peace with God and Savior? There is a second and more important vantage point from which to consider grace and peace, that is God's vantage point: How does God now feel about us? Is God now at grace and peace with us? Could HE ever be without there being HIS Christ to intercede?
It is obvious to me that the God of the Bible is not a God who is at grace and peace with the world. When it says "for God so loved the world that HE gave HIS only begotten Son" that is not to say that God is in any way at grace and peace with us. Just like you and me, we can dearly love another person and not yet be at grace and peace with him/her. Our hearts can be torn at the seams by their callous and disrespectful thoughts and actions. Are we to be at grace and peace with them during all of this? Is God?
It is very difficult to be at grace and peace with man when man is so at enmity with the one true God. Why do they have such enmity? Because HE needs them to change so that HE can once again be at grace and peace with them. They will not to change. They see little need to change; all is as it should be in their own eye. They would just as soon change HIM into their own vain images as change themselves. And without a proper image of HIM it is very unlikely significant change is even possible.
God will not be satisfied (at grace and peace) to leave man in this corrupted state, HE is determined to move them towards a much better situation. Once Christ had fulfilled all that righteousness had so righteously demanded, then God could forgive those men and women who would cling to this Christ, set them back as one under the tremendous influence of HIS grace and peace, have the righteousness of Christ imputed over them like a covering. They could not be this righteousness for themselves, no, they had to borrow or "partake" of it from Christ's.
This is a remarkably holy God the Bible speaks of here. Because of such an immense and merciful and sacrificial love: this God is holy. Because of such an insistence upon the just demands of HIS uncompromising righteousness: this God is holy. Because of HIS proven ability to bring this mercy and this righteousness in from opposite directions to meet together and kiss in the form of one person, HIS only begotten, our Christ Jesus: this God is holy. We have not been left to wallow in this present state, nor suffer the eternal state best expected. This God thankfully is unimaginably holy.
God's grace and peace with us has come at a very steep price to HIM. But, our grace and peace with God has come at no cost to us; only our simple belief and submission to HIS intended change. Now in His resurrection we have a most worthy chief priest, Lord, and intercessor. The more each of us come to recognize and acknowledge what righteousness it took in order for God to come to grace and peace with us, the more our grace and peace with HIM should begin to multiply.