Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB) For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
Grace is the most important concept in the Bible, Christianity, and the world. It is most clearly expressed in the promises of God revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ himself.
Grace is most needed and best understood in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness. We live in a world of earning, deserving, and merit, and the result of these human traits is judgment. That’s why everyone wants and needs grace. Judgment kills. Only grace brings life.
While everyone desperately needs it, grace is not about us. Grace is about God: his un-coerced initiative and pervasive, extravagant demonstrations of care and favor. Michael Horton writes, “In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself. Grace, then, is not a third thing or substance mediating between God and sinners, but is Jesus Christ in redeeming action.”
As humans, we inherited a nature and a will that are in bondage to sin from Adam. This is why Augustine argued, “What God’s grace has not freed will not be free.” Calvin said it another way: “Human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty.” We are born in sin. We are naturally enemies of God and lovers of evil. We needed to be made alive (regenerated) so that we could even have faith in Christ. All of this is grace that we don’t deserve. When we realize we don’t earn grace, we also realize we cannot lose it. God graciously preserves us and keeps us.
The word grace is used in the Old Testament, depending on which translation or version you read, between 4, in the New Revised Standard Version, and 39 times in the King James Version. Grace is in the New Testament between 118 times in the Revised Standard Version to 131 times in the King James.
The Greek word that’s used most in the New Testament and translated grace is charis (pronounced cars) - that which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard; it is applied to beauty, or gracefulness or person, or speech.
Charis is also the word Paul uses to express God’s grace in salvation.
Romans 1:5 (HCSB) We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name,
Romans 3:24 (HCSB) They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5:2 (HCSB We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Romans 12:6 (HCSB) According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith;
Why is Grace Mentioned So Many More Times in the New Testament?
The Old Testament or old covenant was a covenant of law where in order to be justified by God you had to obey it, to the letter, in other words you had to work to gain favor or grace. This law was the Mosaic Law found in the Old Testament Books of Exodus through Deuteronomy. This requirement of obedience, to the letter, in order to gain favor, was done away with when Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for mankind and his blood sealed a new covenant or New Testament.
Hebrews 9:11-14 (HCSB)11 But the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation),12 He entered the most holy place once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?
Grace Was Necessary Because Of Adam’s Sin
Romans 5:12(HCSB) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.
Paul says that physical death came to all men but not because they were all in the process of individually sinning. What he says is that all men sinned when Adam sinned. That includes us.
How is that possible you ask? Here is an example from the Old Testament that illustrates how and why it’s possible. It is from the book of Joshua and the account of something that happened after the great sacking of Jericho when Israel entered Canaan.
Joshua 6:18-19, 7:1-5 (HCSB)18 But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it.19 For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the LORD and must go into the LORD’s treasury.” Joshua 7:1-5 (HCSB) 1 The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the LORD’s anger burned against the Israelites. 2 Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and scout the land.” So the men went up and scouted Ai. 3 After returning to Joshua they reported to him, “Don’t send all the people, but send about 2,000 or 3,000 men to attack Ai. Since the people of Ai are so few, don’t wear out all our people there.” 4 So about 3,000 men went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. 5 The men of Ai struck down about 36 of them and chased them from outside the gate to the quarries, striking them down on the descent. As a result, the people’s hearts melted and became like water.
Because of Achan’s disobedience the Hebrews lost the next battle to a rag tag group from the town Ai and they were disheartened. When the Lord pointed out Achan and he administered the punishment, not only Achan but also all his property, his sons, his daughters, his animals everything connected with Achan was blotted out of Israel. Achan didn’t blame anybody else he took full responsibility but everyone and everything associated with him was destroyed.
Joshua 7:21; 24-25(HCSB) When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.” 24 Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the cloak, and the bar of gold, his sons and daughters, his ox, donkey, and sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and brought them up to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the LORD will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned them to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them,
Here is another example.
Genesis 14:18-19 (HCSB)18 Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High.19 He blessed him and said: Abram is blessed by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,
Hebrews 7:9-10 (HCSB)9 And in a sense Levi himself, who receives tenths, has paid tenths through Abraham,10 for he was still within his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
Achan’s family was considered guilty because Achan sinned; and, Levi was considered as paying tithes because Abraham represented the Hebrew nation. Adam’s posterity, which is mankind, is looked on as having disobeyed and sinned along with him.
Romans 6:23 (HCSB) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s Solution To The Problem Of Sin
God’s solution to this problem of all mankind being under the penalty of sin because of Adam, was grace (defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as, unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification). From the beginning, even before mankind’s fall into sin, the God the Father lovingly designed the rescue he knew that only his Son could carry out. God’s grace was personified through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth as a man.
Since the penalty of sin is death and all mankind is under that penalty because as Adam’s posterity they all sin God’s only solution was to provide a way for the penalty to be paid. The only one who could pay that penalty for all mankind was someone who was like Adam, a human, but not from Adam.
Luke 1:34-35 (HCSB)34 Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” 35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.
The Gift Of Grace Much Greater Than The Sin
Romans 5:15 (HCSB) But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. (Emphasis mine)
"The many" is the same group who were affected by Adam's transgression and therefore died. God's grace and the gift in the sphere of Christ's grace abound to all men. Adam's act brought death. Divine grace abounds to those affected by Adam's act.
Many transgressions brought God's gracious gift into operation, and its outcome or goal is acquittal. How powerful must be this gracious gift when it is directed toward such an end! The reign of death, because of the trespass of the one, is contrasted with the reign in life—on the part of those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. The abundance of grace has to do with all that God has accomplished and promised to do in Christ. Those who are receiving God's abounding favor toward them in Christ and the righteousness which he provides will reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Because of what the one man, Jesus Christ, accomplished, death no longer reigns, but men reign in life. Why are there not as many who reign in life as there were under the reign of death? Because the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness were rejected by many rather than received. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
What Grace Produces
Grace produces righteousness. The fact that the righteousness of Christ is bestowed upon those who believe means not only that they are declared righteous but also that they belong to the reign and the triumph of grace. Grace reigns with a goal in view-eternal life. Eternal life is a quality of life; it is living by God's life and for God. Believers have this life now. But eternal life means not only living by God, and for him, but in an environment that he has made perfect—free from all sin. Hence eternal life is the believer's destiny as well as immediate reality. How will this life be achieved? It will be achieved through a person—through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For us to succeed in this life we need the abundance of grace and the righteousness that God makes available.
Romans 3:22-24 (HCSB) 22 —that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
We can’t measure God’s grace because our sinfulness has limits but God’s grace has no limits.
Romans 5:15-17 (HCSB)15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if by the one man’s trespass the many died, how much more have the grace of God and the gift overflowed to the many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.16 And the gift is not like the one man’s sin, because from one sin came the judgment, resulting in condemnation, but from many trespasses came the gift, resulting in justification.17 Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
Do You Want This Grace?
This grace that I have written about in this post is available to everybody. By definition it’s unmerited so you can’t work to earn it. It’s a gift from God and it can only come through Jesus.
John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”
Romans 10:9-12 (NLT) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.
If you want to receive God’s grace all the benefits that God has promised to His children then pray this prayer in all sincerity (only you and God know if you’re really sincere);
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
If you have just prayed this prayer, in all sincerity, call, text, email, Tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody, leave me a comment here or send me an email with this Link. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.