Joke: Q. What animal could Noah not trust? A. Cheetah
God’s grace permeated Paul’s thinking. One scholar writes, “Paul could not think of Christian truth and conduct apart from God’s grace” (D. Edmond Hiebert, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. by Frank Gaebelein [Zondervan], 11:439).
Another writes, “The expression, the grace of God, may fairly be said to be the keyword of Paul’s theology…. He cannot think of Christian salvation apart from the grace of God…” (Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries [Eerdmans], p. 198, italics his).
The classic definition is the best: God’s grace is His unmerited favour. Grace means that God showered favour and blessing on those who did not in any way deserve or earn it. They deserved His judgment and wrath. But He showed them favour.
God’s pure grace gets polluted from two sides. On the one side, grace runs counter to the way the world works, so it’s difficult for us to grasp it and get used to it. The world works on the merit system. If you do well in school, you get good grades and win awards. If you do well in sports, you make the team and get a lot of applause. If you get into college, the merit system continues to reward excellence. This carries over into the business world after college. Exceptional performance earns promotions and raises. Sloppy performance will get you fired.
- How do you think about Gods grace?
- How does God’s grace show up in your life?
We are going to consider two different definitions
- The unmerited favor, mercy, compassion, acceptance, kindness, graciousness, goodwill, and divine assistance of God.
- The divine life, power, and ability of God flowing and operating through us in order to give us the supernatural power and ability for ministry and sanctification
1. The unmerited favour, mercy, compassion, acceptance, kindness, graciousness, goodwill, and divine assistance of God.
Here is how grace is specifically defined by some of the different Bible Dictionaries:
The unmerited favor, mercy, compassion, acceptance, kindness, graciousness, goodwill, and divine assistance of God.
Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.Justin Holcomb
God rains down grace on all mankind. He gave us the beauty and wonders of nature that we see each and every day. He gives us near misses when accidents are heading our way. He often brings us the right thing just in time. And He also gave us an innate conscience to know right from wrong. All these things are common graces, and everyone born on the earth has the benefit of them because God so loved the world.
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
This classic passage gives us the clearest statement of the grace of God in the New Testament. What is the grace of God? It has been defined as ‘the favour of God shown to the undeserving.’ The late Dr W. H. Griffith Thomas pointed out that grace may be viewed from three standpoints:
What grace is in God, what grace is in Christ, and what grace is in the believer.
‘Grace in God is God’s mercy pitying, God’s wisdom planning, God’s power preparing and God’s love providing. God’s grace thus stretches from Eden to Calvary. Grace in Christ is saving grace suggested by Jesus, sanctifying grace suggested by Christ, sovereign grace implied by Lord, and satisfying grace by the little word our. Paul was able to say that he was what he was “by the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:10).’
Summary of God’s Grace
The gospel is all about God’s grace through Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul calls it “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the word of his grace” (Acts 14:3).
The gospel of the grace of God is the message everyone needs. The word of grace is proclaimed from every page of the Bible and ultimately revealed in Jesus Christ. The last verse of the Bible summarizes the message from Genesis to Revelation: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all” (Revelation 22:21). Through Jesus “we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16)—the gratuitous and undomesticated grace of God.
Pause for reflection:
What is similar in all these different definitions of grace?
2. Grace is the Power and Ability of God Operating Through Us
As you will see in these next set of Scripture verses, the grace of God is also the power and ability of God operating through us so that we can effectively work in whatever He will be calling us to do for Him in this life. This same divine power is also needed for us to be able to be properly sanctified in the Lord, along with helping us overcome different types of sins, addictions, and temptations.
In other words, we need the power of God flowing and operating through us if we are going to achieve any real success in the Lord with whatever He will be calling us to do for Him in this life.
Without God’s divine power and ability operating through us, we will never make it to the tops of mountains that He is calling us to climb for Him. We will never be able to reach the goals, the aspirations, and the finish lines that God has in store for us unless we have the power of His Holy Spirit working in us and through us.
Too many Christians are trying to reach all of their goals and aspirations operating out of their own strength.
Instead of relying on God’s power and leadings to get them to where they are supposed to be going with Him, they are relying on their own wisdom, knowledge, intelligence, and strength.
In fact, God’s grace grounds and empowers everything in the Christian life.
The Biblical Context of Grace
Grace is the basis for:
- Our Christian identity: “By the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
- Our standing before God: “this grace in which we stand.” (Romans 5:2)
- Our behaviour: “We behaved in the world … by the grace of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:12)
- Our living: those who receive “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ,”(Romans 5:17) by the “grace of life.” (1 Peter 1:7)
- Our holiness: God“called us to a holy calling … because of his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 2:9)
- Our strength for living: “Be strengthened by the grace that is in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:1) for “it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.” (Hebrews 13:9)
- Our way of speaking: “Let your speech always be gracious.” (Colossians 4:6)
- Our serving: “serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 1:10)
- Our sufficiency: “My grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 2:9) “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 2:8)
- Our response to difficulty and suffering: We get “grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16) and when “you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace…will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 1:10)
- Our participation in God’s mission: As recipients of grace we are privileged to serve as agents of grace. Believers receive grace (Acts 11:23), are encouraged to continue in grace (Acts 13:43), and are called to testify to the grace of God (Acts 20:24). Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you” (John 20:21). God’s mission is to the entire world.
- Our future: God, and his grace, is everlasting. “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
- Our hope beyond death: “grace [reigns] through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)
- Have any of us experienced this?
- How does this show up in our lives?