Let us attempt to understand what grace is by first considering what it is not. We will look at what scripture has to say about the nature of grace, which is commonly defined as God’s undeserved favor towards mankind.
Grace is not dependent on or related to anything that people do
This means that the grace granted to mankind is entirely up to God’s sovereign will and is distributed as His limitless wisdom and loving kindness dictate. The Apostle Paul sums up this concept concisely by identifying God’s grace as a gift to us, undeserved and unearned, given simply because it was His purpose to grant it through Christ;
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, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time–to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. -2 Timothy 1:9
Grace is not possible without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. – John 1:17
Prior to Christ’s coming, God had a plan for reconciling His chosen people to Himself through their obedience to His Law. If the people could have been obedient to God and made right with Him through their behavior, reconciliation would have occurred. However, the Law only pointed to our need for a Savior (Hebrews 10:1) because people were slaves to the condition of sin (Romans 6:18) and could never behave good enough to be in right standing with God.
When Christ died, He paid the price for all of mankind’s sin – and therefore set us free from that debt to God. Because Christ took the punishment that we deserved, we can have the favor of God that we don’t deserve. God is able to look at us as having nothing to earn from Him – we are in right standing with the Father through faith in the Son (2 Cor. 5:21).
Grace is not a license to sin
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! – Romans 6:15
Although we have the righteousness of Christ in God’s eyes through our faith (Rom. 10:4), we are not to abuse that good standing with God by taking for granted His forgiveness and grace. When our hearts fully comprehend how little we deserve His favor and blessing, then we are in a position to respond to God out of gratitude and love, seeking to please Him and wanting to sin less and less (1 Thess. 4:1).
How then, shall we describe grace in light of the above truths?
Grace is that influence of God in our lives which saves us from the consequence of our sinful, rebellious condition, granted to us as a result of God’s sovereign choice, completely independent of our earning or deserving it. This divine grace was made possible when Jesus Christ endured the crucifixion to purchase it for us, a corrupt people, out of love. God’s grace, therefore, is the manifestation of unconditional love that inspires in us a deep sense of gratitude and awe towards our heavenly Father, compelling us to live in such a way that we honor Him.
Grace is, very simply, the greatest gift that mankind has ever received.
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