by Spiros Zodhiates
"Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:3).
War is the result of man trying to play God. When man runs counter to the natural and spiritual laws of God, and thinks he himself can control nature outside himself and within himself, he produces conflicts. Go back and read the third chapter of Genesis and you will see what I mean. You do not have to be a psychologist to understand why people fight among themselves, both as individuals and as nations. Man fights because his heart is evil as a result of choosing to misuse the freedom which God gave him. We do not like to hear these things, but they are the stark realities that explain the conditions of the world today.
When Paul greeted the Corinthian believers with the wish that they might have grace and peace "from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ," did they not already possess these blessings? Yes, indeed. But grace and peace are not gifts that one receives once-and-for-all, to last a lifetime. When you receive Christ, you have an initial experience of grace and peace, but you also experience a day-to-day infilling of these two wonderful gifts of God.
As long as we live in a world where sin abounds, we shall encounter circumstances and people that will try to disturb our relationship with God. And whenever this relationship is disturbed we need more grace and peace. The rock on which we stand will not sink, but it can get splashed with the waves that seek to engulf us.
In Robert Louis Stevenson's story of a storm, he describes a ship caught off a rocky coast, threatening death to all on board. When terror among the passengers was at its worst, one man, more daring than the rest, made the perilous passage to the pilot-house and saw the pilot lashed to his post with his hands on the wheel turning the ship little by little into the open sea. When the pilot beheld the ghastly white, terror-stricken face of the man, he smiled, and the man rushed to the deck below shouting, "I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled. All is well." A sight of that smiling face averted a panic and converted despair into hope.
So a new sight of the face of Christ every day averts a panic in life and fills the soul with peace and hope. That was actually what Paul wished for the Corinthian believers. If you do not want to be panicky in the daily storms of life, take a good look at the Pilot, the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember this fundamental truth: true peace is not merely absence of war but the presence of God.
Paul was deeply conscious of the fact that these believers in Corinth would have a great deal of fighting to do against their evil environment and their own propensity to sin. In the midst of all this, they could possess the grace and peace of God. Since their initial peace with God had already been made, they could constantly experience His peace, whatever their circumstances. He who has not made peace with God is the victim of his circumstances, but he who has experienced peace with God can have the victory over his circumstances.
Observe that the source of grace and peace is "God our Father." The preposition apů, translated "from," indicates the source and direction of these two possessions of the believer. They never result from man's efforts. Their origin is in God. When He has forgiven our sin, it is natural that His attitude toward us is not that of wrath but of peace. Grace and peace come as a unit, a package, and one follows the other. Their source is identical, God our Father.
"God" stands for omnipotence. "Father" stands for relationship. What confidence can you have in omnipotence if it is not related to you favorably? When you understand your relationship to omnipotence as a Christian believer, you will understand how you can have peace in a storm.
Remember, we cannot play God and have peace. The circumstances of life are beyond our control. Therefore, we need someone as a Father who is omnipotent. God inspires trust; and knowing Him as our Father helps to cast out fear (Is. 12:2). That is the secret of peace.
Paul always included himself in any declaration concerning the believer's relationship to God. To the Corinthians he spoke of grace and peace from God "our" Father. He was their Father and He was also Paul's. He had as much need of God's grace and peace in his daily life as they had in theirs. Things were not all rosy with the Corinthians. Paul's main purpose in writing to them was to chide and correct them. Yet he claims common possession of God as Father with them. The best way to help people in their trials of faith is to confess that you are just as dependent upon God as they are. He is the same God to whom you are pointing them.
From A Richer Life for You (First Corinthians 1)
Published by AMG Publishers