Grace. Amazing grace. We hear it all the time, but do we really know what it is? Do we really know what it does? Do we really believe in grace?
I hope we come to realize that grace is not just a means to salvation, grace is the life of the Christian. Grace is not just a covering for our sin, grace is the removal of our sin, the empowerment and inspiration of our godliness and the person of which we place our trust.
The word grace is mentioned over 120 times in the New Testament. So let’s start from the beginning and get an idea of what grace is and why it’s so important.
Paul calls grace simply the gospel. (Acts 20:24) The gospel is the good news of what Christ has done on our behalf. Grace cannot be defined by one word. Grace means we get from God things we don’t deserve. Which is everything. Nothing in this life we deserve, every breath is a gift of grace. Grace is God’s love, mercy, kindness and favor revealed through Christ that is lavished on us freely. Grace can be seen as an economy of how God works with us, meaning our relationship with God and the things God does for us is based on grace, not merit, effort or works. Grace is not a principle or theory, grace is a person, Jesus Christ.
Grace puts all the emphasis on Christ work for everything. To be under grace is to acknowledge our total dependence on the work of Christ for salvation and our total dependence on the Life of Christ for daily living.
The bible says that we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9) We can do nothing to earn salvation and we can do nothing to lose salvation. It’s all by grace. But did you know grace is more than just getting us in? So we are saved by grace, but we are also sustained, taught, strengthened and forgiven all by grace.
Most of us base our relationship with God on our performance, but we need to base it on His grace.
Another term for being saved, is to be justified. The bible says we are justified by grace through faith. (Romans 3:23) To be justified, means to be declared “not guilty,” and to be declared right with God forever. 2 Corinthians 5:21, says that Jesus became sin (guilty) for us, so that we could become the righteousness of God. Because of Jesus work on our behalf, we are now as righteous and holy as He is. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. Our identity is not in our sin, but in our savior Jesus.
Yes we still sin, but we are don’t defined by our sin. We are what we are by grace alone. (1 Corinthians 15:10) Who am I in Christ by grace? Holy, blameless and perfect. (Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 10:14)
At salvation, we become a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) One spirit with God (1 Corinthians 6:17), and partakers of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:3) God gives us an obedient heart that desires the things He desires. (Romans 6:17) So God forgives us of all sin, and remembers them no more and gives us a new heart and new nature. (Colossians 2:13; Hebrews 8:12)
So does grace give a license to sin? NO, grace gives you a new heart and nature that desires Godliness, not sin.
Once we are saved, the bible says that we enter into a place of grace. (Romans 5:2) Meaning everything that happens between us and God is based on grace, not our obedience, faithfulness or works. This means there is nothing I can do to make God love or bless me more, and nothing I can do to make God love or bless me less.
So does good works matter? YES! But God doesn’t need our good works, our neighbor does. (Martin Luther) And God calls us to simply walk in good works, not create, look for or worry about them. (Ephesians 2:10)
According to Colossians 1:6, when we begin to know and understand the grace of God, it only produces one thing, fruit. We are not the cause of our fruit, we simply bear the fruit that the vine (Christ) produces, our job is to simply be available and keep our eyes on Christ.
Titus 2:12, says that “grace teaches us to say no to sin, and to live a godly life.” The law doesn’t teach us to say no to sin or to live a godly life, only grace does. We are no longer under any part of the law, yes that includes the Ten Commandments. (Galatians 3:18) The law is good and holy, but it cannot make the sinner good and holy, only the person of grace, Jesus, can. The principles of the Law is good, but was never meant to be our guide in how to live. The law is not a moral compass to guide us, our only guide should be Christ who is the author and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
So does obedience matter? YES, but obedience is not a way to get from God, obedience is from our new heart and is a result of what He has already done for us, by grace. If we can do anything on our own to get God to do something or to bless us, then it’s not the gospel and Christ died in vain. The beauty of grace is the life of obedience God calls us to, He wants to, by our choice, do through us, as us.
So we see that grace both saves and teaches us, meaning our salvation and sanctification, or growth, is by grace, not by our effort, obedience or faithfulness.
Grace also strengthens us and is sufficient for us in all our weaknesses. (Hebrews 13:9; 2 Corinthians 12:9) Grace frees us from the power of sin. (Romans 6:14) Grace abounds over our sin. (Romans 5:20) Grace is given to us for someone else. (Ephesians 3:7) This is why Paul calls grace the gospel!
Grace is free to us because Jesus paid the ultimate price. Jesus gave himself for us, to give himself to us, so he could live His life through us. (Galatians 2:20) This is the grace life: that what is true of Christ by who He is and what He did, is now true of us by grace. Because I am in Christ and Christ is in me, what is true of Him is true of me, even on my very worst day.
Romans 8:1, doesn’t just apply when I’m not sinning, but right in the middle of my sin, God tells us that we do not stand condemned because Jesus was condemned for all our sin already.
Under grace we have the freedom to enjoy God, not perform for Him. We can trust that even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13) Under grace, there is no more religion, of doing more, being better or trying harder. Under grace we get to enjoy the fullness of Christ life in us, and live our life glorifying him with everything we do. We get to live our life from God’s grace and love not for God’s grace and love. We live from Victory not for it. We live from acceptance, significance and value not for all those things. We don’t have to live in fear (Gods angry) of God, but in simple faith in God. Under grace, God will never leave us and we are as close to God as we will ever be, actually we are seated with Christ in heaven! (Hebrews 13:5; Ephesians 2:6,13)
On our worst days, we can trust that God loves us and is pleased with us. On our worst days we can approach His throne of grace with confidence to receive mercy and grace, because our standing with God is not based on our behavior or performance but on His grace. (Hebrews 4:16)
Can we still please God? YES! But we cannot make God angry or displeased, we can only please Him. How can He be angry with a sin that Jesus already took care of?
Grace means God is no longer keeping a record of all the good and bad you do, it means God is concerned with loving you and growing in relationship with you. The only record God has of you, is the perfect record of Christ on your behalf.
The message of grace doesn’t preach that we do nothing, but that Christ does everything and uses us to do it. So, go out and live and let Christ live and love through you! Grace starts the Christian life, fuels the Christian life and one day will finish the Christian into eternal life.