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Grace, Then Peace

In every one of his New Testament letters, Paul greets the recipient with some variation of “grace and peace”—combining the standard Greek greeting, charis (grace), with the standard Hebrew greeting, shalom (peace). Taken together and in the right order, these two words give us a window into mysteries unknown apart from God’s revelation. Specifically, they reveal the trajectory of creation and provide guidance for how to live.

Grace is God’s disposition of kindness and favor toward the world. It all begins with God’s grace. The grace brings peace: peace with God, peace with other believers, and a broader peace throughout creation. Again, the order is critical: grace then peace. Grace first. Peace follows.

Other religions operate in the reverse: peace then grace. If I can gain peace with God (or the gods, or a supernatural force) through a set of practices, then I can secure his (or their) favor. Sometimes, Christians function with a peace-then-grace mentality. If I can achieve peace with God through being a good Christian, then I can unlock His grace in my life.

Aside from inviting a host of insecurities and anxieties into our lives, such an approach misses the heart of the Christian faith. We are saved by grace, which subsequently brings peace to our lives—both an objective peace as we experience forgiveness from God, and a subjective peace as our hearts learn to rest in Christ’s finished work.

—Casey Shutt, condensed