Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Paul’s Benediction (6:23-24)


Paul is completing his farewells and now gives his benediction to his readers.  He first mentions three blessings – peace, love and faith – although he seems to combine the last two, which may indicate that he has two blessings in mind: peace and trusting love. He also mentions the divine source – God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a reminder of the equality between the Father and the Son and of the harmony with which they work together for the benefit of their people.

His benediction reminds us that we do not primarily receive peace or strengthen our faith or stimulate our love by looking within ourselves. Rather we receive them by looking away from ourselves to the Father and to the Son. This reminder is particularly appropriate for today because we can be tempted to look for strength and recovery in other things. Here is Paul’s strategy for successful spiritual living – ‘Look away from yourselves and your abilities and gifts and look instead at the abilities and gifts of the Father and the Son.’

Firstly, we receive peace from contemplating the character of God and our faith/love is increased as a result. The character of God is composed of his attributes, of which there are many. We know that he is loving, holy, righteous, faithful, almighty, wise, omnipresent and all-knowing, to name some of them. When a believer takes any of these attributes and thinks biblically about them, he should experience inner peace and know reviving of love and faith. For example, God’s love for him is eternal, personal, enduring, consistent, and maintained with full knowledge of his sinfulness. Thinking about these aspects results in peace, and is followed by increased trust and responsive love. It would be a useful spiritual exercise to think of one attribute of the Father on a daily basis and see how our spirituality is changed.

Secondly, we receive peace from considering the person and work of Christ and our faith/love is increased as a result. Christ’s divine person has the same attributes as the Father, although revealed in different ways, particularly through his work of salvation. The love of Jesus towards each one of his people is eternal, personal, enduring, consistent, and maintained with full knowledge of his or her sinfulness. We can view that love through his work. In the past eternity, he embraced his people as a gift from the Father; he loved each of them individually; his love endured throughout his sufferings and is overflowing now that he is glorified; he still loves each of them still on earth although he has full knowledge of their sins. Thinking about these aspects results in peace, and is followed by increased trust and responsive love. It would be a useful spiritual exercise to think of one attribute of Jesus on a daily basis as well and see how our spirituality is changed.

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