"Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ." Such is the salutation in every epistle by Paul, except that to the Hebrews; and, slightly varied, in both by Peter.
Yet it is not by any means a mere form. These epistles have come to us as the word of God, which they are in truth. This salutation, then, though often repeated--yea, even because often repeated---comes to us as the word of God in greeting and full assurance of His favor and peace everlastingly held forth to every soul.
Grace is favor. This word of God, then, extends His favor to every soul who ever reads it or who hears it.
His very name is Gracious--extending grace. His name is only what He is. And what He is, He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." With Him is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Therefore by Him grace, boundless favor, is always extended to every soul. Oh, that all would only believe it!
"And peace." He is the "God of peace." There is no true peace, but that of God. And "there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." "The wicked are like the troubled sea, which cannot rest."
But all the world lieth in wickedness, yet the God of peace speaks peace to every soul. For Christ, the Prince of peace, "our peace," hath made both God and man one, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, to make in Himself of two--God and man--one new man, so making peace--"making peace through the blood of his cross." Eph. 2:14, 15; Col. 1:20. "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross," He "came and preached peace to you which were afar off and to them that were nigh," peace to you all. Therefore, always and forevermore, His salutation to every soul is, Peace to thee. And all from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ!
Oh, that every one would believe it; so that the peace of God which passeth all understanding could keep his heart and mind through Christ Jesus.
"Let the peace of God rule in your hearts." Let it; that is all He asks of you. Don't refuse it and beat it back; let it.
"Who gave himself for our sins." O brother, sister, sinner, whosoever you be, laden with sins through you be, Christ gave Himself for your sins. Let Him have them. He bought them--your sins--with the awful price of His crucified self. Let Him have them.
He does not ask you to put all your sins away before you can come to Him and be wholly His. He asks you to come, sins and all, and be wholly His, sins and all; and He will take away from you, and put away forever, all your sins. He gave Himself for you, sins and all; He bought you, sins and all; let Him have what He bought; let Him have His own; let Him have you, sins and all.
He "gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world." Notice that to deliver us from this present evil world He gave Himself for our sins. That shows that all that there is of this present evil world to each one of us, is in our sins.
And they were "our sins." They belonged to us. We were responsible for them. And so far as we were concerned, this present evil world lay in our own personal selves, in our sins. But, bless the Lord, He gave Himself for us, sins and all; He gave Himself for our sins, ourselves and all, and this He did in order that He might deliver us from this present evil world.
Would you like to be delivered from this present evil world? Let Him have yourself, sins and all, which He bought and which therefore by full right belong to Him. Please do not rob Him of what is His own and so still remain in this present evil world when at the same time you would like to be delivered from this present evil world. Please do not commit the additional sin of keeping what does not belong to you.
As they were our sins and He gave Himself for them, it follows plainly enough that He gave Himself to us for our sins. Then when He gave Himself for your sins, your sins became His, and when He gave Himself to you for your sins, He became yours. Let Him have your sins, which are His, and take for them Him, who is yours. Blessed exchange, for in him you have, as your very own, all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and all "according to the will of God." Thank the Lord.
Why should there not be to Him "glory forever and ever"? and why should not you and all people say, Amen?