What is God's grace? Some have defined it as the "unmerited favor" of God to save man's soul. Though this is not a wrong definition, it is hardly a complete definition. Many do not realize the purpose or result of God's grace. Indeed, not fully understanding His grace, they may even fall short of His expectations. Some believe they understand God's grace, but unfortunately, they may have a wrong understanding, being misguided by man-made doctrines and twisted verses. For example, some "believers" are told their only duty is to "believe" or "accept" that Jesus died for all their sins, and they will be "saved" for eternal life. They have been taught it is God's burden to secure their salvation (Php. 2:13) and assured they can do nothing to get to heaven once they believe because "for by grace you have been saved" (Eph. 2:8). If this is all that salvation requires of us then how will we appear any different than an unbeliever? What will separate us from the lost? How does only our word save us and prove to others that we are heaven bound? Though it is essential to believe and accept the gospel and to trust in the eyes and arms of God, we can not and must not limit ourselves to this initial expression of faith. Doing so can be dangerous to our salvation.
As we search the Bible for understanding of grace we will find frequent
use of the word "grace" in both the Old and New Testament. Though
the word 'grace' generally means the same throughout the Bible (mercy,
blessings, and favor) study of each verse will reveal there are four
applications of grace in our lives. Each is significant in salvation. At
times grace refers to the opportunity or plan given by God for our salvation.
Other times it refers to the actual gift of Jesus' own life. Sometimes grace
refers to the blessings that God bestows on us to strengthen our faith and to
help sanctify our hearts and minds. Finally, it also refers to the
grace that should be in the heart of every new man in Christ, that which
others can see and also receive of the grace of God. We can categorize each
application into four types of grace - God's Grace, Jesus' Grace, God's Daily
Grace, and Grace in
God's Grace: The foundation for God's grace is His
love for man and His desire for their love and trust in Him. In the Old
Testament God's grace is usually reflected in the salvation of the righteous.
Prominent receivers of God's grace were Noah,
The new covenant is God's grace for us today. It is a special plan from
God to help us become His children and have salvation. The new covenant
is similar to the old in that we are still to obey God's commandments and
love Him as the only God, and we still need atonement for sins. However,
rituals and sacrifices done under the old covenant were eliminated. Jesus
became the unblemished sacrifice - a twofold and most important aspect of
God's grace. First, since atonement for sins comes through the shedding of
blood (Heb. 9:22) and death is the penalty for sin (Ro. 6:23), Jesus suffered
this for us through His own death. His blood provides forgiveness and His
death pays for our penalty of death. Now we can approach the throne of God to
receive forgiveness, be reconciled to God, and receive justification of our
sins so we do not face eternal death. We will only be asleep in the eyes of
God when we die. The second aspect of the sacrifice of Jesus is that He
became the "covering over all glory" (Isa. 4:5). He has
become a shield by virtue of His perpetual sacrifice before the throne of
God. With Jesus as a perpetual sacrifice man now has the chance to find
God, learn His will, and conform his life to His righteousness while being
shielded from His wrath as he walks void of God in his life. Believers also
are shielded from God's immediate judgment if they fall into temporary sin.
As a result, God is patient and merciful of man's unrighteousness and sins
(He. 8:12). This essentially is a "grace period" from God - a
postponement of His judgment and wrath. Otherwise, He would destroy us in His
anger as He destroyed
God continues His grace by providing a way to help us know His will. Under the new covenant God has sought to take the laws and commandments out of the people's hands and to establish them in their hearts. He has given us His Holy Spirit (the same Spirit instilled in Jesus while He was on earth). This is God inside us - guiding, teaching, and convicting us. We will feel Him in our hearts and in our conscience. We will feel the prodding and tugging of His Spirit with our spirit. God can also use outside sources to give direction to His children. Our minds will reason with wisdom in all that we have received in word and truth from the Lord, enabling us to determine the source of our feelings and conscience. Is it our will, a ploy of Satan, or actually the Fathers's will? If of God, it will never contradict His word. As we grow in knowledge of God's word and mature through our various trials and tribulations, we will recognize when God speaks to us. Instead of God's will written on stones it will be written in our hearts and minds. God's Spirit works in us for His will and purpose (Ph. 2:13). Yet, salvation is not God's burden as some think. God provides the tools for salvation, but it is our responsibility to obey Him.We must work out our own salvation with "fear and trembling" (Ph. 2:12). When we do not obey God's will and purpose, we are against Him. Therefore, we can jeopardize our salvation. However, if we obey God, being led by His Spirit, we will walk in righteousness that becomes sanctification unto salvation.
Ephesians 2:8 is the completion of God's grace - "For by grace you
have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of
God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Some, having
misunderstood this verse, have subsequently misled others. The contextual
truth of this verse is found in verses 3 and 11-13. The Gentiles (who we are)
were without God and had no hope of salvation (vs. 12). In the first
covenant, God did not work through us. We remained in darkness, not knowing
how to find our way to Him (only a few found their way through
To summarize God's grace we see that He has given all people the opportunity to have eternal life. He has eliminated the rituals and sacrifices, making Jesus the only acceptable sacrifice for forgiveness of sins and for justification of life. He has established Jesus as the covering over the world, protecting us from His immediate judgment and wrath. Also, He has given us His Spirit to help us know Him and conform our lives to His will. God's grace is the initial and most important grace. All subsequent grace is a result of God's grace. Without God initiating His grace, Jesus' death would not have been necessary, we would still be in a hopeless condition, absent of God's blessings, and we would be in danger of His immediate wrath.
God's Grace: (Ge. 6:8 / Ex. 33:12,13,16,17; 34:9/ Ez. 9:8/ Ze. 12:10/ Acts.13:43; 14:3,26; 15:40; 18:27; 20:24,32 / Ro. 3:24; 4:4,16; 5:15; 11:5,6/ 1 Co. 1:4/ 2 Co. 4:15; 6:1/ Ga. 1:15; 2:21; 5:4/ Ep. 1:6; 2:5,8; 3:2,8 / Php. 1:7/ Col. 1:6/ 2 Th. 2:16/ 2 Ti. 1:9/ Tit. 2:11/ He. 2:9; 12:28 / 1 Pe. 1:10,13; / Jude 4)
Jesus' Grace: Jesus' grace is prophesied in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament. His grace fulfilled the righteousness of sanctification and the righteousness of justification for man toward God. It was His willing act of love and His obedience to God for the benefit of man. God, requiring the shedding of blood for atonement of sins (Heb. 9:22), sent His only son to be our atonement and to suffer the penalty of death for us. Jesus was obedient even as He faced a death with ridicule, suffering, and cruel torture. Without Jesus' act of grace, there would be no forgiveness of sins, no salvation of the Gentiles, no out pouring of the Spirit, and no "grace period" of which both the believer and the unbeliever are shielded from God's wrath - one as they stumble in and out of God's will, the other as they live altogether void of God's will. For the believer, they can possess the peace which goes beyond all understanding and can look forward to God's daily grace while developing His nature within themselves.
Jesus' Grace: (Ps 45:2/ Jn. 1:14,16,17/ Acts 15:11/ Ro. 1:5; 5:2,15,17,20,21; 6:1,14,15; 16:20,24/ 1 Co. 1:4; 16:23/ 2 Co. 8:9; 13:14/ Ga. 1:6; 6:18/ Eph. 1:7; 4:7/ Php. 4:23/ 1 Th. 5:28/ 2 Th. 3:18/ 1 Tim. 1:14/ 2 Tim. 2:1/ Tit. 3:7/ Phile. 1:25/ He. 4:16; 13:9/ Rev. 22:21)
God's Daily Grace: God's daily grace is blessings from God in our lives. He will bestow blessings upon those who sincerely seek Him and His ways. His blessings may simply be a 'reward' to His faithful or to provide help for any of our various forms of need. Our needs could be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, personal, or needs within the community, family, church, or work place. As there are no limits to our needs, there are no limits to God's ability and desire to bless those who sincerely live for Him. All blessings and favor come from God and are provided at the time God determines is best. They will come quickly or in due time even through other people whom God will use. God blesses us simply because of His love for us and as a way to strengthen, perfect, and establish us in His ways (1 Pe. 5:10); ' for all things work together for the good of those who love God'. God will work to help us stay strong in our faith and maintain our life long commitment as we are faced with various trials and times of trouble. He will be our refuge in times of trials and tribulations (Isa. 4:5,6). We will find solace in His arms of love and protection. The concise purpose of God's daily grace is to give us comfort, mercy, and peace in our lives and to help us live a more faithful and rewarding life.
God's Daily Grace: (Ex. 33:13/ Ps. 84:11/ Pr. 3:22; 3:34; 4:9 / Is. 26:10/ Jer. 31:2/ Ze. 4:7; / Lk. 2:40/ Acts 4:33; 11:23; / Ro. 1:7; 12:3,6; 15:15/ 1 Co. 1:3; 3:10; 15:10/ 2 Co. 1:2,12; 8:1; 9:8; 12:9/ Ga. 1:3; 2:9/ Ep. 1:2; 2:7; 3:7; 6:24/ Php. 1:2/ Col. 1:2; 4:18/ 1 Th. 1:1/ 2 Th. 1:2/1 Ti. 1:2; 6:21/ 2 Ti.1:2; 4:22/ Tit. 1:4; 3:15/ Phile. 1:3/ He. 4:16; 13:9,25 / Ja. 4:6/ 1 Pe. 1:2; 3:7; 5:5,10,12 / 2 Pe. 1:2/ 2 Jn. 1:3/ Re. 1:4)
Grace in Man: Grace in man is the grace that must be in the hearts of each follower of Christ. It is the character or nature of a person's heart who believes in Jesus. This grace affects those we love and know and others who we may come in contact with. The Bible exhorts us to grow in the grace of Jesus (2 Pe. 3:18), which means to develop His nature in our hearts. We are to "put on Christ" (Ro. 13:14), meaning we will live as He lived making no provision for the satisfaction of the flesh. A good description of how we should be can be found in Ephesians 4:25-32. Here we see characteristics of honesty, justice, purity, kindness, and forgiveness. This nature was in Jesus, including mercy, love, and compassion. This was evident in His teachings and when He healed and forgave people. With this grace in our hearts, living peaceably with all people will be more possible (Ro. 12:18). Moreover, this grace will bring us to holiness, preventing any root of bitterness that could defile us. This holiness is necessary to see the Lord (Heb. 12:14-15). By continuing to grow in knowledge of Jesus' life, God's word, and mature spiritually, we will manifest this grace in our hearts.
Grace in man evolves from "believing" in Jesus. However,
believing means more than just to know Jesus and "accept Him for
salvation." When we believe in something or someone we will
obey, follow, and act according to those beliefs. "Believing"
evolves into "obeying." Two simple indications of this can be found
in the Bible. In Romans 10:16, Paul references the prophet Isaiah who
foretold the coming of Jesus and His rejection by the Jews. Isaiah poses this
question; "Lord, who has believed our report?" (Isa. 53:1). Paul
concludes that the people of his day have not obeyed the gospel of Christ. If
they believed in Christ they would accept the gospel and obey
it in all its requirements instead of hanging on to the traditions of the
law. In Hebrews 3:18-19, we see that
Grace in Man: (Est. 2:17/ Pr. 22:11/ 2 Co. 8:6,7; 9:14/ Ep. 4:29/ Co. 3:16; 4:6/ 2 Th. 1:12/ He. 10:29; 12:15/ 1 Pe. 4:10/ 2 Pe. 3:18)
Summary: Grace as God intended can be clearly and
fully understood. By knowing and understanding all principles of God's grace
we can avoid walking negligent of His expectations or jeopardizing our
salvation. If one does it will be because he chooses to do so, choosing his
will over the Father's will. One who partakes of God's grace should
understand the opportunity God has provided us for salvation, the
righteousness that comes from justification, the Spirit's guidance that leads
to our sanctification, and the grace period existing for our sanctification.
Therefore, through the mercies of God we should fulfill the reasonable
expectations of God (
God's grace is our opportunity to become children of God and have eternal life. Without the grace of God, no subsequent grace was necessary. God wanted us to be with Him. He initiated the plan of salvation. Then, Jesus gave His life so we could have forgiveness of sins, protection against immediate judgment, and the outpouring of God's Spirit. We now have the opportunity to receive God's daily blessings and the time to conform our lives to His will, while developing grace in our own heart. When we understand God's grace, we can take hold of the "keys of life" (the teachings of Jesus) and unlock our heart and mind and bring forth the righteousness that God expects and deserves. Only by obeying Jesus' teachings can we fulfill righteousness and prove we believe in Him. Steadfast obedience along with befitting repentance is our only assurance that God will save us on the Last Day. At that time only will we be truly 'saved'. We will be saved forever from Satan's ploys, eternal death, and God's punishment. We will live free of the former conditions of life and forever with God and with our Lord, Jesus Christ.