Bookends of Grace
If there is one word that the Apostle Paul uses to summarize salvation in 1 Thessalonians, it is the very simple word grace. He begins his letter with, “Grace to you and peace,” and then ends in with “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Bookending this letter with grace is Paul acknowledging that everything is a gift from God. The church exists by God’s grace. Those who didn’t deserve God’s favor—he lavished it upon them.
That one word grace should be a treasure-filled word to Christians.
We start by grace, we go by grace, we end by grace. If we’re not all about grace, then our only other option is that it be all about us, our own effort, how hard we can work, what we can do. But when the storms of life come, all the difficulties that bring us to the end of our ropes, we start to realize we can’t handle them on our own. We need help.
He didn’t have to work in us. We were fighting against him. We were his enemies. And yet, he showed us his grace by pouring out truth about his Son by his Spirit in our lives.
If you still think God owes you something, if you think, “God, you should have come through for me. You should have done this for me. Look at all I’ve done for you!”—you don’t yet understand grace. He’s given you everything in Jesus. All his promises are yes and amen in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). You have no other needs! Grace is his gift to us, and he’s given us his best gift in his Son.
If you think lightly of your sin, if you think, “It’s not that big of a deal,”—you don’t yet understand grace! Just one of your sins, even the ones that seemingly everyone struggles with, is enough to send you to hell, and to face judgment from God. It is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not a result of your works, it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8–9). The only thing you brought to the table for your salvation was your sin.
This grace is enough for even the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). It is sturdy. It can withstand the most difficult suffering and trials. It is enough on our best days, when we think we earned something, and enough on our worst days, when we wonder how God could possibly love us.
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.