For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 70

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”  Philippians 4:21-22

As our imprisoned apostle concludes this prison epistle, he returns our focus back to the Gospel of grace found in Jesus Christ. Just as Paul began his letter, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:2), so does he end it. It begins and ends with grace. 

Grace is the most uniquely Christian characteristic of our faith.  Grace is the complete expression of God’s perfect love and holy justice. Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully man, became the spotless lamb who gave Himself for us as the once-for-all sacrifice. In Christ’s death on the cross, God’s wrath against sin was fully satisfied and God’s love for sinners was fully demonstrated. While “love” often gets the bigger headlines, it is grace that really makes the Gospel “good news.”

Now, as Paul concludes his letter to the church in Philippi, he expresses a prayer of blessing over them, and over every saint (including you and me) who will read these words until the end of time- May “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”  May the purest, best, most powerful and transformative grace, (that is, the grace that flows from Jesus Christ), be with you, deep within your spirit.  May the Gospel permeate and saturate your life so completely that your “spirit,” which encapsulates your heart, mind and soul, is drenched in grace.  Imagine your life, your relationships, your self-view, your joy, your endurance sopping with 100% Grade A Gospel grace.

This was much more than an individualized prayer, however; Paul was offering a closing blessing to the entire church- May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with the spirit of the Church.  

What are the evidences of a church body whose spirit is filled with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ? Consider the entire book of Philippians as a guide to grace-filled living.  While Paul discusses many things throughout the letter, it begins and ends with grace.

A Local Church With The Spirit of Grace from The Lord Jesus Christ Will:

1) Love to be together (Philippians 1:1-11).

2) Be bold and unashamed of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12-30)

3) Be selfless and servant-hearted (Philippians 2:1-11)

4) Be committed to growing personally and corporately as a church (Philippians 2:12-30)

5) Value knowing Christ above all else. (Philippians 3:1-17)

6) Live as citizens of a heavenly Kingdom. (Philippians 3:18-21)

7) Practice mutual repentance and Biblical reconciliation. (Philippians 4:1-3)

8) Be marked by peace and joy grounded in Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-9)

9) Be generous to the point of selfless faith. (Philippians 4:10-20)

10) Cultivate an Espirit De Corps (Philippians 4:21-22)

Like the church that you may attend, the church in Philippi was made up of real people. These evidences of grace did not just magically appear in a way that would appear fake and hallow to us today.  The church in Philippi was not like a group of happy wooden children on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney.  No, they were made up of beautiful and broken people like Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche, Clement and others. If you expect to walk into a church and see each of these evidences of grace on full display among every member, you are setting yourself up to be bitterly disappointed.  We are all a work in progress, “working out our salvation” (Philippians 3:12) in the context of community.  Jesus has started the work and He will be sure to finish it (Philippians 1:6), but in this in-between time, we will have starts and stops, successes and failures, moments of selfishness and selflessness, fear and faith, joy and worry, plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 

It is impossible to grow in the grace and likeness of Christ apart from a deep commitment to the local church.

Warren Mainard

  This is why the author of Hebrews stresses, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

Your spirit needs this… we all need this.  If you have been hurt or disappointed by the church, go back so that you can practice giving grace.  If you have fallen away from your faith or hurt your brothers and sisters in Christ, go back so that you can practice receiving grace.  If anything has hindered you from fully giving yourself to your local church, cover it with grace and go back.  Let every good and bad, high and low you experience be an opportunity to grow in grace. May you receive this blessing, found in the community of the broken and the beautiful we call the church.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”  Philippians 4:21-22

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