2019-3-17 His Grace to You

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          March 17, 2019

“His Grace to You”
Colossians 4:18

We began our punctuated sermon series through Colossians on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day—last year.  Now we come, in God’s good providence, to the end of our series.  We read, in this final verse from Paul’s Spirit-led pen to the Colossian Church, his parting remarks unto them.  As we know, parting words have vital importance.  They ring long in our ears when we expect the time apart to be long, and they ring longer when we shall not meet again until we meet in Heaven—but then, we note joyfully, we shall not be separate one from another ever again.

Parting words have vital importance in Scripture as well.  Jesus’ final words in Matthew’s Gospel are these, “And, lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).  Luke records Jesus’ last words before His ascension—His return to Heaven, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  We come today to Paul’s parting words to the Colossians.  Chief among those words are these, “Grace be with you.”  Let’s hear the Word of the Lord.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

Note Paul’s first statement, “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.”  This is significant, for generally, Paul utilized an amanuensis—or secretary, or scribe—to commit his words to paper.  Yet in some cases (Galatians, and here, e. g.) Paul writes the very end of the letter in his own hand.  He did this to authenticate himself to his readers, to compel their attention, and to highlight what he writes.  It is as if Paul says, at the very end of this powerful letter, “Pay special attention to this.”  Now Paul has two more things to say.

He next writes, “Remember my chains.”[1]  Chains may be interpreted literally, or we interpret the sentence figuratively—to read, “Remember ye my imprisonment.”  In short, Paul implores the church not to forget him in his incarceration.  The church may understand they are to remember him spiritually—they are to intercede, or pray, for him.  They shall remember him mentally and emotionally via correspondence and the like—which will encourage him as he endured his chains.  They are to remember him, like the Philippian church did time and again, with supplies for his physical needs.  The church at Colosse is to remember Paul—with action accompanying.

Then Paul closes the letter in his familiar way: “Grace be with y’all.”  Let’s once again look at this benediction.  The substance of God’s grace is His Son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:17, Westminster Confession of Faith, 7-6).  Alternatively stated, the supreme display of God’s grace toward His elect is His Son—and God makes every provision for His people’s eternity with Him in His Son.  Hence, “Grace be with y’all,” may be stated, “Christ be with y’all.”  Let’s look more at this word grace.

There are varying shades, or hues, associated with the New Testament Greek word translated grace (charis [cariV]).  The first shade is kindness.  The grace of God is neither mean nor harsh, but it is helpful, sympathetic (or compassionate), and forbearing.  Hence, God is neither mean nor harsh, but He is sympathetic and forbearing of us in our estate, and He helps us along His providential way.  The second shade is gift.  We have not deserved God’s grace.  We certainly have not earned it; if we have earned anything, we have earned eternity apart from God in that miserable place reserved for the devil and his host.  God’s grace is a gift to us—an unmerited gift.  The third shade is good will.  God’s good things, and His good bearing toward us, give evidence of His good will—His favor—toward us.  This is God’s grace—and He, through Paul’s pen—pronounces it over the Colossian church and us who are in Christ.

Remember, regarding Scripture, that the ultimate Author is God Himself—particularly the Holy Spirit.  Remember that the ultimate addressees are you and me.  After all, Scripture is written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11).  Therefore, these words are for us

Hence, the Spirit speaks to our souls, each and all, “Grace be with you.”  Remember that the word you is plural.  Grace be with us, to be sure, but grace be with us all is the fundamental sense here.  May God’s grace, then, be with you and with us.  May God’s kindness—His help, His compassion, His forbearing—be yours in abundance.  May God’s gift—His Son, and everything flowing therefrom—be yours this days and even forevermore.  May God’s good will—His favor in your life—be evident within your soul and in the eyes of others beholding you, and may this thrill you to the depths of your being.  May God’s grace—His unmerited favor—be with you, both now and always.

AMEN.

[1] My wooden translation of this text from Greek is, “Remember ye my chains.”  The command form of the Greek verb is plural.

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