What better way is there for Paul to conclude this heavy letter to the persecuted church?
In light of the earth shattering words and weighty forecast, Paul gives them the encouragement that all true servants of the gospel need to hear. Christ’s presence, peace and grace will be with you. We in the west have a hard time accepting anything from the hand of God other than physical blessings. But I need to ask you, would you rather be removed from all trials or would you rather be able to experience His presence and receive his reward because of them? Your answer may reveal your heart. “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Phil 3:10, 11- (It’s not just a pretty song).
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 17 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God of peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”Jn 14:27 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”Jn 16:33
“I AM with you until the end of the age” and “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” As I am with you in every situation, you can be assured that my peace and grace will abound. I may not remove you from your circumstances but like I told Paul, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made evident by your weakness.” Hebrews 12:11 says that “no discipline seems joyous at the time but painful.” I acknowledge your pain, but know that I am with you in it so that you may become mature in your faith. “Endure hardship as a good soldier.”
I AM the God of grace. “I give you everything you need for life and godliness”(in this crazy, uncertain, and difficult time that you live in). You don’t deserve it, on the contrary, you deserve the opposite – separation from me, but for the salvation I have given you in Christ. Now my grace freely gives you what you do not deserve, and motivates you to live for me to take this grace and my word to the entire world.
Just as Paul’s handwriting gave the Thessalonians assurance that this letter was really from him, so too God gives us his peace, grace and sense of his presence to assure us of his reality and purpose in our current hardships and circumstances. They are his hallmark, his signet stamp, his guarantee to us through the word of God.
The one thing that impressed me the most in the book “The Heavenly Man” by brother Yun, was the fact that brother Yun experienced hardship after hardship and that rather than removing him from them, the Lord kept reminding him that his presence through them was all that he needed, which was enough for him. Throughout the book, the Lord gave Yun opportunities to escape from the secret police and from prisons, but he could not escape the price of pain for living for Christ. He and his family suffered from hunger, loss of property, ostracized from family, and forsaken by other Christians out of fear from the authorities. They hid in the wild, running from place to place in their mission of strengthening the underground house churches of China.
There are hundreds of thousands of Christians hiding from authorities as they worship in these churches in China. Not just them, most of the world’s Christians are enduring persecution, not just hardships. Why does the church in the west preach that it is our divine right to receive physical blessings? Are these persecuted believers not also entitled to receive blessings from the hand of the Lord as we do? Yet they are the ones who are experiencing the miraculous life of close fellowship with the Lord.
If we don’t feel the need of God’s grace and peace and presence to sustain us in the work, it might be because we may not be in a place where God is using us in a supernatural way for his kingdom.
That’s all for this book,