Abundant Grace and Peace
Grace and peace be unto you!
Grace is with us always but it is a bit difficult to feel much peace in times like these.
Grace we need, peace we want.
How do we get grace?
By realizing that it is from God, through Christ and there is nothing we can do to achieve it but rely on God for it.
While in Oregon, at Aunt Jeannett’s house, I read a book on Child Evangelism Fellowship; and the man who started it.
It was the life story of a man who was Church of the Brethren and had a dream of saving children.
His Father left Pennsylvania when the rumor circulated that the Government was going to force young men to fight in the Civil War.
The family came by covered wagon to California.
It took six months and a child was born on the way.
They settled in central CA but found it difficult to farm due to the different climate and not that much irrigation at that time.
The family name was Overholtzer.
The father was Sam and the son in the story was Jessie.
The family moved to Covina to grow Oranges.
While there Sam was one of the men who started Lord’s Berg Academy which became La Verne College and is now The University of La Verne.
An interesting part of this story is the beliefs of the Brethren.
There was no grace in Brethren Theology at this time.
It was strict discipline to not sin in anyway in order to be worthy of going to heaven.
Jessie rebelled and did not want to go to college or join the church and have to wear the garb required.
His father Samuel was of the mind that it inhibited the witness of the Brethren so he shaved his beard and wore clothes of the time.
As a result he was able to witness about his faith and brought many to a saving faith.
Jessie wanted to be baptized at an early age but was told that he was not old enough to understand what it meant.
He was sure that he did for he had asked people, mostly his mother, and was sure he was ready to believe.
His being put off turned him in the other direction.
His reasoning was, if I can’t be saved I can sure sin.
Like the wondering son in the Bible he lived a life to please himself for several years.
But he could not get what he considered a good job.
His father had offered to send him to the Brethren College if he would follow the faith.
In time he came to his senses and accepted his father’s offer.
He tried to be a good Brethren but he had this nagging thought that there should be more to Faith in Jesus than obeying the rules.
Be began a search in the Bible about grace and found that it is by grace alone that one is saved.
He began preaching faith alone and got in trouble with the Brethren authorities for such a doctrine.
He also, due to his childhood experience, believed that children can come to a saving faith at an early age.
When I was shaking trees 18 to 20 hours a day I listened to a program called, stories of great Christians.
One of the episodes was the story of this man.
The program made a lot of the narrow beliefs of the religion he was born into.
Gloria Gather was raised in a Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana.
She also liked to make fun of the restrictive beliefs of the church she was raised in.
I think this is sad since both of the people came to God in their home church even though they moved beyond it.
Jessie spent the rest of his life starting Child Evangelism Fellowship and it has reached millions of children for Christ.
I did not realize that it is still going strong.
And is in most countries of the world.
I relay this story because of the struggle between being good enough to obtain heaven and the fact of grace being the only way to salvation.
It seems that mankind wants to have a formula for obtaining what it wants.
That is why Jesus did not bring a religion but a relationship with the God of Creation.
There is only one thing we can do to get to heaven.
That is to accept the Free Grace that Jesus The Christ can give to us when we believe that he was the Son of God and can save us by his precious blood sacrifice.
We do good because of our appreciation and love for God who saved us by his Son.
Not to earn anything.
For out best efforts stink!
When we accept the gift of salvation from God through Christ we become children of God with all the rights and privileges of being a child of God.
With the responsibility to further the work of Christ on earth.
To love as he loved and to witness to the free grace that saved us from eternal death.
You know, that is how it should be stated.
Without God all people face eternal death.
What must I do to inherit eternal life?
This question of a man who had much, is out of place due to the fact that there was no set believe in eternal life.
It was still being debated.
This man held a view that was controversial in his time.
We see it as what we believe, that is being with Jesus in heaven for eternity.
We might say that his man was ahead of his time.
For Jesus told his disciples that he was going to His Father to make a place for his followers.
That where he was they might be.
Just an interesting side note.
The Text for today is from First Peter 1:1-2 and 5:12-14.
The focus text is: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance”.
This section of Scripture ends with us being Holy as our response to the saving grace that saved us.
Peter claims to be an apostle of Christ.
It is believed that this is the Peter of the disciples upon which Jesus would build his church,
That is the confession that Peter made that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God.
In the books we have of Peter’s writings we see the confession of the first century church.
Peter was presented to Jesus by his brother Andrew.
Along with Andrew, James, and John he was called from fishing to full time ministry.
Peter was a disciple, a follower and student, and became an apostle, one who was called to continue the ministry of Jesus.
He called himself a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who would share in the glory to be revealed.
He was a servant and apostle of Jesus.
Peter had a helper in his writings, a man called Silas who was a companion of Peter.
The book is written to the believers scattered throughout the world of that time.
Peter calls them exiles and God’s elect.
God calls, sanctifies, and saves those he chooses.
These are the elect.
It is believed that it was written from Rome, which Peter calls Babylon.
It is believed to be written about AD 64 or 65.
It is written to be an encouragement to believers.
Though it contains the doctrine of the time it is thought to be more practical and encouraging that doctrinal.
Peter is proclaiming the true grace of God.
Believe, accept and be holy.
His purpose was to cheer and strengthen scattered Christians who were enduring fiery trials in their persecution as believers in Christ.
The beginning greeting of the letter illustrates how the gospel unites both Jew and Gentile into one humanity out of the two, thus making peace.
Grace was the usual greeting in letters among the Gentiles.
Peace was the greeting in letters among the Jews.
Christianity filled both with content as never before.
Grace which had meant greetings, became the unmerited love and mercy of God.
Peace became the peace that passes human understanding.
Peace between God and humans, through Jesus, The Christ, and as a result, between humans.
When we become God’s people we have received the grace that saves and the peace that comes with that salvation.
Grace and peace be unto you as you trust in God your savior.