Philippians 1:2 - Amazing Grace to You

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

John Newton penned these words while reflecting on his life of wretchedness. He said of himself, “I was an apostate, a blasphemer, and an infidel.” Despite his wickedness, God found and saved Him.

These lyrics echo the Apostle Paul’s well loved words from Ephesians 2:8. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith.’

By grace you have been saved. When we deserved only God’s wrath, He did the unthinkable and saved us. This is the grace that made John Newton sing. But he knew that that was only the beginning of grace. The Christian life, from beginning to end, is all of grace. The Apostle Paul knew this too. Listen to his words from 1 Corinthians 15:9-10,

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)

By the grace of God I am what I am. That is, God made me an apostle even though I was so unworthy. I was running around persecuting the church, and God knocked me off my horse and made me an apostle. Can you believe that? That’s grace. But grace didn’t stop there.

Paul says, “I worked harder than any of them (the other apostles), though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” In other words, God’s grace made me an apostle, and since then grace has been present with me empowering me to be an apostle.

As Paul looks back over his Christian life - at all his obedience to Christ, all his victory over sin, all his ministry accomplishments - he says, 'it’s all of grace. God’s grace did that, not me. And without God’s grace, I couldn’t have done any of it.'

This concept of grace underlies everything Paul does and says. And so as he comes to write to the Philippians, he knows they need God's grace. He knows they can’t do anything he is going to call them to if grace isn't with them.

How does this come into play in his writing? Letters in Paul’s time had a standard format: The author’s name followed by the recipients followed by a greeting. The usual greeting was chairein or ‘greetings’. But by altering this word slightly, Paul takes the customary greeting and turns it into an opportunity to pray for his readers. For Paul it is not chairein but charis (grace).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:2)

It is no longer simply a courteous greeting, but a prayer of blessing indirectly asking God to grant the Philippians the grace they so desperately need - Grace for obedience, grace for perseverance through suffering, grace for engaging in the ministry of the gospel.

You too are in total dependence upon grace. Are you struggling to overcome sin? Are you failing in your obedience to Jesus? Are you growing weary in your Christian pilgrimage through this life? Then go to God and seek from Him the grace you so desperately need. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

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