The True Grace of Christian Camaraderie

Desiring God Staff Christmas | Minneapolis

The following is a lightly edited outline of John Piper’s message to the Desiring God staff at the annual Christmas lunch.

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (1 Peter 5:12–14)

Peter sums up “what I have written” as the “true grace of God.”
  • Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully (1 Peter 1:10).

  • Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

  • Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

  • As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace (1 Peter 4:10).

  • After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).

Paul treats grace as a summary of the Christian message.
  • Acts 14:3 — “the word of his grace”

  • Acts 20:24 — “gospel of grace of God”

  • Titus 2:11 — “when the grace of God appeared bringing salvation for all people”

  • So also the apostle John, in a good Advent text, John 1:14 — “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

  • Grace is God’s pursuit of our undeserved good.

  • Truth is what is really good for us: the truth about God and self and the world that will lead us to eternal joy, what is good for us.

“True grace of God” implies there is a “false grace of God.”

Certain people have crept in . . . who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 4)

“True grace does not lead to lawlessness or licentiousness. It is both pardon so we can survive and power so we can stand.”
“True grace of God” leads us to “stand firm in it.”

True grace does not lead to lawlessness or licentiousness. It is both pardon so we can survive and power so we can stand. God does not save us from works but for works:

By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so 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 2:8–10)

The personal touch of grace and what it means to stand:
  • Peter mentions Silvanus as a faithful brother.

  • He mentions “she who is at Babylon” and “my son, Mark.”

  • Greet one another with the kiss of love.

Christians are a divine family with strong and manifest affections.
  • Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22).

  • Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:17).

  • Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8).

  • Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).