As I’ve done before with concepts in Christianity such as the church and faith, I want to pause for just a bit and reflect on Grace. Without grace, charis in the Greek, we humans would be in a situation that we literally could not get out of.
Our sinful nature is a fact…God’s righteousness is fact. These two facts are why we so desperately need God’s grace. The “simple” idea behind grace in this context is that it means “unmerited favor.” Of course unmerited means that it is completely free; it is unearned, not worked for.
God’s grace is an awesome concept, but one that can kind of be skewed if one isn’t careful. If anyone ever hears that this or that act bestows grace upon someone, then they cannot be talking about the unmerited favor of God, because of the nature of grace.
We also must acknowledge what brought God’s grace to us; Christ Himself. John 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Faith and grace fit together, because we are not saved by works. Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
The fact is that we are all deserving of death due to our sinfulness, but God extends His grace via His Son so that we might have His unmerited favor. We don’t work for it in any way, it is a gift freely given. This idea is also there to keep us humble and to keep us from judging others…for what kind of boasting (save in Christ) can there be if we all acknowledge that we did absolutely nothing, performed no work, to merit God’s favor?
Another concept that is often connected to grace is “peace.” I’ll go into that more in a different post, but it shows us that peace is possible within this concept of grace. If the favor shown to us by God is not merited by works, by something we do, then it isn’t going to be snatched away if we slip and sin. It is always easy to find hope in Grace.
In Paul’s writings we can see how much he intimately connects the idea of grace with the gospel; take Galatians for example; Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Paul was furious that someone had come along and started laying legalism onto the Galatians, and the Galatians were apparently beginning to be swayed by it. Yes, an understanding of God’s grace, His unmerited favor bestowed upon us is essential to the gospel message that it is by faith, not works that we are put into Christ, that we are “saved.”
Again, the idea of grace underlines the fact that it is not about who is a “good person” and who has done all of these “good works” under their own steam…it is all about Christ, and faith in Him that connects us to this grace of God. We all know that there is no one good but God; next to His righteousness our own righteousness is nothing, is less than nothing. It is that unmerited favor that we so desperately need because we cannot ever match His Righteousness on our own, it is literally impossible. We also cannot ever merit His favor because of His nature of absolute righteousness and absolute justice. Praise God that He is also absolutely merciful and He does indeed extend unmerited favor to us humans!
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This serves as another reminder that God’s grace is offered to us for His glory, not only because He loves us (which He most definitely does). As we give thanks to God for His grace it is acknowledging the glory of what He has done for us, and continues to do for us, as well as acknowledging our need for Him, and our inability to get to Him on our own. So, the next time you ponder God, His plan, His character, remember all of the implications of His Grace, especially when thanking and praising Him for the matchless gift of His unmerited favor…
Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord!