THE APOSTOLIC BENEDICTION: GRACE, LOVE, AND FELLOWSHIP
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
2 Corinthians 13:14 KJV
For quite sometime I have felt the need to teach on this important subject, but only recently felt the release to do so. In this series we would look at what is commonly referred to as 'The Grace' in Christian gatherings. A more appropriate description is THE APOSTOLIC BENEDICTION. Virtually every Christian I know can quote this by heart, and tradition dictates that the service is not complete without it. Unfortunately, like most things we do, because we have not taken time to meditate on its significance, it has lost its meaning and potency, it has become another ritual. Even the embellishment that is often added is unhelpful. Honestly, it is not my intention to ruffle any feathers but there really is no easy way to kill a sacred cow. To most people this is just some set of words put together. I pray and believe that by the end of this series, you will gain a better understanding such that you will walk in the reality of these life giving words called 'The Apostolic Benediction', Amen.
In this introduction, the first thing I would like to observe is that this is a statement of affirmation, an emphatic declaration, and it is intended to be so. Paul ended his second letter to the Corinthians with this benediction as a seal to all he has said to them before. By adding the word 'may' as we commonly do, it removes the emphatic tone and intent, it becomes a suggestion. It introduces an unnecessary hesitance or contingency (lack of certainty) to what should be an audacious pronunciation. This sounds like something innocuous (innocent), but in the spiritual, words mean everything. Paul was not suggesting, no not at all.
The second point is that although this pronouncement is made at the end of the service and rightly so. The intention is for it to be food for thought when we are not together. To remind you and help you walk in the consciousness of who you are in Christ when there is nobody around to encourage you. A confession to keep you steady, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is with me'. It tells you what you have available even when you are alone. The reason why some might be filled with trepidation when they visit their 'village' or some other place is because they feel alone and exposed. When you have the revelation of the Apostolic Benediction, you will realise you are never alone. It gives you a peep into the spiritual atmosphere surrounding you, like Elisha asking God to open the eyes of his servant (2 Kings 6:17)
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Colossians 2:9-10 KJV
The third point to note, (which we would go into details in the rest of the series) is that, it confirms the completeness of who we are in Christ. Often we struggle to explain the reality of the Godhead (Trinity). I believe that we see the perfect functional expression of the Triune God in the Apostolic Benediction. We understand and appreciate the person of the risen Christ through the grace He made available to us by His death and resurrection (Romans 5:15). The perfect expression of the Father is the Love that He has bestowed on us because that is who He is (1 John 4:8, John 3:16). The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to comfort and help through fellowship, He is in us and with us (John 14:16-17). Can you now see what Paul was alluding to? The Apostolic Benediction is not just something you tag to the end of a service, it is a reminder of what you should walk in the consciousness of after the service.
As we close this introduction, I hope we have laid the foundation to get you thinking. There is good reason why Paul brought this three elements together in closing his letter to the Corinthians. David declared that even when he walked in the 'valley of the shadow of death' he will fear NO EVIL, because God's rod and staff gives him comfort. (Psalms 23:4). If David who had an inferior covenant could say that. Imagine the victory we have when we are in constant awareness that we have GRACE, LOVE and FELLOWSHIP, the functional presence of the God Head with us always. The problem is most don't know and those of us that know easily forget. In the next few capsules, we will take a closer look and remind ourselves, let's release those life giving words.
THERE IS NO HESITATION, IT IS A CONSTANT REALITY: WE HAVE GRACE, LOVE AND FELLOWSHIP
I say thank you for you faithfulness, encouragement and support, it means a lot to me. Thankfully one of my partners have dragged me into the 21st century, expect some twits, it will be good.
As always link MindGyM to your social media sites, lets spread the word, make sure your contacts get in on the act from the beginning of this series. Something wonderful is about to happen.