3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of God and our Father, 5to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Grace and peace have been given to us from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ granted us grace and peace by willingly surrendering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Note, Jesus “gave himself” (v.4). No one forced Jesus to surrender His life for believers. No one compelled Jesus to walk the earth in holy preparation for the day of atonement. No one coerced our Lord to the cross. He. Gave. Himself. It was by His own will that Jesus lay His life down (c.f. John 10:18). It was by His own will that He went to the cross.
His gift was not merely a general sacrifice or some sort of certificate of salvation. The substance of what Jesus gave is Himself. Consider that for a moment. “He gave HIMSELF” (v.4). Jesus is the payment for sin. He is the one who covers the cost and defeats death. No amount of self-righteous work can do this. No law can withstand abate the wrath of God. No good deed could overcome the darkness. But Jesus, the Lord of all things, surrenders and pays the price for our sin. He did not give us a get out of jail free card or a recommendation to our eternal job interview. He gave us Himself! He is the prize. He is the payment. It is He that rescues us. He is the gift. He is what is given.
He is given on behalf of our sins in order to rescue us. All men have failed to be holy (Romans 3:23). Some may argue that men cannot effectively know what it means to be holy until they learn and therefore cannot be held accountable for such a condition. Still, Romans chapter 1 argues that all mankind is aware of the “invisible qualities of God” and are thereby held accountable for their lack of recognition of God (Romans 1:20). Notice that God does not hold man accountable for a lack of perfection, rather, it is a lack of acknowledgment (Rom. 1:21). It is the rejection of God as God that leads to man’s sinfulness. Men reject the One true God who stands before them offering life. But men love their evil deeds more than the light of life (John 3:19). As a result of this rejection of God, humanity consistently defies the holiness and reality of God and His righteousness. Breaking the law of God, all humanity shakes their first in the face of an exceedingly patient God who will one day judge all of humanity deeds. Imagine a perfect judge examining all your secret moments. Imagine a judge who does not have error is responsible for judging your behavior. If God is the judge, then we have much to fear. This is a justifiable fear because His position as the righteous judge is secure. We have tried to save ourselves by being righteous on our own. Yet, the Scripture tells us that “no one is justified by the law” (Romans 3:20). There is no amount of good that can save you. There is only Christ and His act of righteous atonement. He is all that can save. Trust Him.
What does He save us from? This “present evil age” (v.4). His atoning work saves us from the current condition that we live in. Enslaved to sin and unable to be right with God on our own, Jesus is the remedy for that cancer. He rescues us from the death that so abounds in our souls. That emptiness that you feel deep within your heart when you look in the mirror. That evil you sense within yourself in moments of extreme honesty. Jesus comes to rescue you from that. To enable a believer to be righteous. The despair and desperation that overtakes our souls are driven from our hearts in His rescue. A rescue designed by the Father’s will (v.4b). Consider for a moment the truth that the God of the Old Testament, who set forth the law is the God who desired to save you through Christ. It was the Father’s love that drove Christ to the cross. It was the love of God for the people of the world that directed the divine will of the Trinity to save humanity (John 3:16 states, “for GOD loved the world in that…”).
Consider the emphasis Paul makes on God’s relationship to us. He is “our Father” (v.3,5). Not merely the father of Jesus Christ, but ours. He is our Father. He has made us His children. Those who were once far off are now His. Those who were not His children have been adopted. Adoption, the act of grace that secures a family for an orphan. Likewise, humanity has been orphaned and left to die in our own sinfulness, so God intervenes and grants us son-ship from a world of slavery. God could rightly be named as “our judge” but Paul reminds us that God has chosen to call us His children because He is gracious and kind. So God is “our Father.” You cannot lose this relationship to God. He has made you His child, assuming you have believed in Jesus. He has made Himself your Father. No law can break that relationship.
All glory and honor and praise are due to the God who passed over the judgment of our wickedness in favor of Grace. He has called us, who were enemies of Him and His law, sons and daughters. He has granted us a status we could never earn. He has rescued us in Christ Jesus.