All the New Testament letters except for James and Hebrews, state a wish or prayer for the blessings of grace and peace to be extended to the recipients. First and Second Timothy add mercy while Jude leaves out grace, adding mercy and love to peace. Second John contains as in the letters to Timothy, mercy along with grace and peace. However, there is unique difference with Johnís announced triad of blessing. The three are stated as an established fact. ďGrace, mercy, and peace will be with us [Ö]Ē writes the apostle. The apostle states that the blessings of grace, mercy, and peace are a reality and actuality found in the lives of the Lordís people.
First we offer a brief definition of each blessing. Grace is Godís favor bestowed on the undeserving and not earned by us in any way. Mercy is Godís tender compassion in dealing with and alleviating the weaknesses and misery of the people of God caused by sin. Peace, the result of Godís grace and mercy, brings reconciliation and fellowship with the Lord.
In the economy of salvation we receive from the Lord all three of these wonderful blessings. They are Godís gifts to us.
All of us are in a state of nature. This state of nature belongs to every son and daughter of Adam. We are born in sin and thus separated from God. We are all unrighteous in Godís sight. There is nothing in and of ourselves which we can do to commend ourselves to God.
Because we are dead in sin, it is impossible for us to come to God. We need the righteousness of another. We need the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be restored to fellowship with the Lord.
Despite our sinful nature, our spiritual inability, and depravity, there is hope. God calls a people unto Himself. The Word of God is unquestionably clear about our total inability to come God apart from His sovereign grace and mercy.
The apostle writes, ďAnd you were dead in your trespasses and sins. In which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we dead in our transgressions, made us alive with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Hum, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Here we see our spiritual condition described first in its negative reality: dead in sin, living lives fashioned by the way of this evil world-age instigated by Satan, enslaved to sinful ways of thinking and acting. In this state of nature and rebellion against God, we all are under the wrath of a holy and just God.
Next we see our new spiritual condition described in its positive reality. The apostle explicates our renewed state which is no longer one of nature but of grace. Those in the state of grace are made the objects of love, mercy, and grace. They are made alive in Christ, raised to newness of life, and in union with Him. This glorious union has at its heart a new purpose for living (not unto themselves but unto God) and a new focus of concern (spiritual and eternal things rather than worldly and temporal things).
The underlying point that must not be missed is that salvation is entirely of the Lord. God is sovereign in grace. We do not choose the Lord. Jesus underscores this when He says in John 15:16, ďYou did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit [Ö].Ē We simply cannot and will not turn to God apart from His enabling grace because it is impossible for anyone in the state of nature (dead in sin), to do so. We are debtors to grace. The doctrine of election is a most, yeah the most humbling of all the doctrines that encompass the Christian faith. God gets all the glory, not us.
The sovereignty of God in grace has been greatly misunderstood and resisted in some circles of the Christian faith. One reason man dislikes the truth of Godís electing grace is because he wants to have even a tiny piece of the glory. When Bunyanís Christian was confronted by Apollyon (the devil), the evil one accused Christian of being secretly vain-glorious in his thoughts, words, and deeds. It is part of the old nature which clings to us and must be put to death.
That being said, we must not fail to mention that although God is sovereign in grace it does not undercut human responsibility. The means by which we are saved, repentance (turning) from sin and faith (trust) in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, are also the gifts of God. They are Christian duties that must be exercised by us if we are to be saved and have peace with God. God calls us, works in us, and enables us to turn to Him. It is all Godís doing. God the Father purposes our salvation. God the Son secures our salvation. God the Holy Spirit applies the work of salvation. God will save His people from their sins. They are chosen by Him, holy, and beloved (Col. 3:12). To God be the glory!
Thus the blessings of grace, mercy, and peace will be with us because they are from God the God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. Father and Son are both the source of the gifts bestowed on those who are brought by God into the state of grace (salvation).
Here we have the first mention of the doctrinal check or test of truth which is one of the three marks of genuine Christianity. John will not tolerate false teachings about the Person of Jesus Christ. We note in here that Jesus Christ is equal with the Father not only as the source but as the dispenser of the gifts of salvation. John wanted to be absolutely clear that Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father is God. No one less than God can be the originator and dispenser of the blessed gifts of salvation.
John is preparing us to see that anything less than a fully Divine Christ miserably fails the crucial test of truth and is by no means a true Christian (vs.7, 9).
John tells us that the three blessings of salvation will be with us from God the Father and God the Son, in truth and love. Godís gifts come to us in truth and love because Godís nature is absolute truth and perfect love. We who receive these gifts in the sphere of salvation begin to fashion our lives by truth and love as they abide with us.
Truth and love are like a quality garden soil. Such soil contains a balanced amount of organic matter, earthworms, beneficial micro-organisms, and nutrients. The old time farmers called the perfect garden soil ďloamĒ. It was easy to work, fertile, had the right tilt, drained water readily, and at the same time retained valuable moisture and nutrients.
As we live in truth and love, it assures we will continue to grow a strong healthy crop of grace, mercy, and peace in our lives. Peace is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that we cultivate in our life (Gal. 5:22). It is Godís blessed peace that guards [keeps] our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7). We are to grown in the grace of our Lord (2 Pet. 3:18). Godís grace is sufficient to sustain us in all the trials we face in life (2 Cor. 12:9). Grace and mercy are readily available to us especially in times of weakness and sin (Heb. 4:16). God is a God full of compassion and mercy at all times and in all situations (Matt. 5:7, James 5:11). These are just a few of the ways these gifts are bestowed upon us by God. They will be with us because they are the very soil in which we grow into the image of Christ.
Lastly we note that truth is the great unifying force is the lives of Christians. Truth also unites believers in their love for one another. Where there is truth, there is sincere love.
That is why the truth of the gospel is absolute truth. If truth is relative as we are being made to believe by the enemies of the gospel, then we have no defense against the onslaught of false teaching in doctrinal and practical matters. Only absolute truth can unite believers against falsehood and in their love for the Lord and one another.