…"But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!" 2Tim. 2:9
Believers often find themselves living in contradiction to the world, and we should. The runaway anxiety and constant fear that grips so much of the world does not have the same hold on us—or at least, it shouldn’t. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been looking at anxiety from a biblical perspective, and examining God’s care and provision for His people, and how that should free us from worry.
Today we’re bringing our Attacking Anxiety series to a close with part three of our discussion on Paul’s prayer that we would know and rest in God’s lasting peace and grace. The apostle wrote, “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18).
A final characteristic of God’s peace is that it is not subject to circumstances. Paul’s prayer was that we might continually enjoy it “in every circumstance” (v. 16). This peace is not subject to anything that happens in the worldly realm. It is not built on any human relationship, and it’s not dependent on human feelings, decisions, or situations.
Rather, God’s peace is built on a divine plan and promise from an unfailing God who will secure you in Himself, and who will do everything for your good. This peace is a product of an unchanging divine relationship, and it is unbreakable, unassailable, and transcendent.
As we noted earlier, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). He was saying, “There’s nothing to fear or be anxious about because I’m giving you a divine, lasting peace that cannot be fractured or damaged by the world.” We demonstrate that Jesus keeps His promises when, in the midst of worldly upheavals that would normally tear us up and trouble our lives, we remain calm.
Paul’s great desire was that we enjoy that kind of well-being, which is why he prayed toward that end. His parting wish was this: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:18). He wanted every man and woman who would ever put his or her faith in Christ to experience the abiding presence of God’s grace.
Grace is God’s goodness or benevolence given to those who don’t deserve it. “Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). It was in the person of God’s Son that “the grace of God has appeared,” making salvation available to all (Titus 2:11). Once we embrace this saving grace through faith in Christ, we are blessed with God’s grace, enabling us to withstand any difficulty that would tend to make us anxious. Paul described this grace while confessing to a difficulty that brought him great anxiety:
There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. . . . Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians12:7-10)
As believers, we also are blessed with the grace that equips us for divine service. Paul expressed his appreciation for this grace in saying, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy . . . the grace of our Lord was more than abundant” (1 Timothy 1:12-14).
Grace is what enables us to grow spiritually in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). In the material realm, Paul appealed to God’s grace in encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous in giving to the Lord’s work: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
God’s grace saves us, helps us cope with our anxieties, equips us for service, and enables us to grow spiritually and to be rich in God. Like God’s peace, it is always available, and there is no limit to it. And again, like God’s peace, the conditions for receiving it are trusting God, forsaking sin, enduring the refining process, doing good, and living by the Word. As we are what we ought to be, God infuses us with His peace and grace. And that has a wonderful way of crowding out anxiety.
I want to close this series on a personal note. Just a few days after preaching a sermon on the peace and grace God bestows on His people, I had an unprecedented opportunity to apply it to my own life: I was notified that my wife and youngest daughter were in a serious auto accident, and that my wife, Patricia, would probably die. Everything seemed like a blur to me, the details frustratingly sketchy—I was afraid she was already dead. During my hour-long drive to the hospital, I had a lot of time to reflect on the severity of the situation. Yet I experienced a deep and steeled peace simply because I knew God had not failed me—His grace was in complete control.
I am happy to report that God spared both their lives, and that Patricia recovered beautifully. If you too rely on God’s grace, He will see you through the most difficult trials.
Imagine if we lived in a world where people didn’t lie to one another because the reasons for lying were all removed. Imagine no more manipulating the truth so that I could put myself in the best position to win. Imagine people actually stopping to help one another out, no matter what the situation, and never requiring a payment for their services. Imagine people looking for opportunities to do good and not to hurt or malign someone else. Imagine no more criticism or personal attacks.
Sounds like a dream or a fairy tale right, but this kind of world does exist and it will be coming to where you and I live some day soon in the future. I don’t care how much you buff and shine this world that we live in today, it is on its way out and God is preparing for a new one to take its place.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven of God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
If you’re putting all your hope in this world and in this life, and what you think you will get out from it, even as a child of God, you hope is definitely misplaced.
“If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all men most pitied.” Corinthians 15:19
There is a hope that the child of God has that cannot be applied to anyone else. You and I have an eternal hope that rests on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That has been confirmed and established forever by the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:3-4
Don’t rest your hope in a job or a business, or circumstances, these are all things that are going to pass away, rest your hope in the eternal facts and evidences that God has given you. Our hope and faith isn’t a leap in the dark, as some would call it, it rests on the facts and evidences that God has given to us in His Word.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you.” 1Peter 1:3-4
Our hope is a living hope! It’s based on a the living Lord Jesus Christ. He is not dead, but alive and watching and orchestrating everything toward the end that He has planned, not what politicians or governments or terrorist organizations are planning.
“Now faith is the evidence of things hoped for, being sure of things we do not see” Hebrews 11:1
There is a new world coming that is going to be full of God’s grace and truth, and God is looking for people who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4) The door is open for anyone who wants to come in but it won’t be opened forever. Are you in? Where is your hope and what are you looking for?
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast, which reaches inside behind the curtain, where Jesus our forerunner entered on our behalf,” Hebrews 6:19
An anchor is only as strong as what it’s anchored too. Massive ships have extremely large anchors that hold these ships still, but it doesn’t matter how big the anchor is, it’s what it’s anchored too. If that anchor is hooked on a small rock and that rock moves and gives way, the whole ship will be adrift.
What are you anchored too? What is your hope in? Anchor your soul into Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of the faith. He is unmovable, steadfast and sure.
Only God can give grace and truth and He wants to pour it into your life now, and the one to come. He is preparing a place for you, so you and I will be with Him forever.
“Do not let your hearts be distressed. You believe in God; believe also in me. There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you. And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be also.” John 14:2-3
This is where your hope should be, and this is where your anchor should be hooked too. We should be telling others of this great hope that we have, so that they too my enter into that blessed hope.
“Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works. Titus 2:13-14
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24:35
I want to just share what I’ve been learning in the past year. My life was always in conflict from what I knew the Bible said and the reality of my life.
Jesus said His burden is easy and yoke is light. That certainly wasn’t a picture of my Christian Life. The biggest frustration with my Christian life is that it wasn’t any different than that of a non-believer, “gutting out” my Christian walk. Kind of God helps those who help themselves. I was living a powerless life trying to “live the Christian life.”
I was under the belief that I had to do something to gain God’s favor ( to get Him to listen to me) Go to church more, pray more, read my Bible more, blah, blah blah!
Here is the TRUTH about our relationship with Him:
My Christian life was like someone buying me a first class ticket on a luxury liner with all the amenities and I’m down in steerage living on soda crackers.
Now when I fall short I say, thank you Jesus for your perfect sacrifice. I realize I can’t out sin God’s Grace! He will never leave me or forsake me. Never, never, never, never!
Not only has he forgiven my sin but has given me a clear conscience before Him. My walk now is practicing who I am and entering into His rest, That is what growing in grace is all about.
My life is now living and doing out of a thankful heart for what He has done for me. I appreciate his deep unexplainable love for me. That is what motivates me to appropriate His power in my life. Every time Satan brings up my past I say, I am perfect in Him the One who paid my price for my sin (past – present – future) So when the accuser uses my past to try to discourage me I just thank God that have His righteousness forever!! I am perfect before God, always!
Yes, I take advantage and abuse God’s grace every day. Should I say I can sin and do what ever I want with my life? No, when I realize what He has done for me it motivates me to move closer to Him and His will.
Falling from grace is when we substitute God’s grace and substituting “doing something” to earn His favor. My heart is established by His Grace!!! We were taught that sinning causes us to fall from His grace. (Blasphemy!)
Forgive my ramblings but let me ask you a few questions.
Here’s what my prayers are like these days. Lord, You said it, I didn’t, I’m not making this up.
Do you see the change in the focus away from me to Him? That’s where He wants it!
I could go on and on but hopefully this addresses what I wanted to share.
” But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18