How does one adequately explain God’s grace? It’s impossible! A technical definition that has been used for many years defines grace as “God’s unmerited (unearned) favor, His loving kindness toward man.” A popular acronym describes it as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” A succinct statement declares, “All God, no me!” Those are all good attempts, but they still come up short.
The reality is that, in a full sense, God’s grace is indefinable. A pretty good explanation states, “Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve, Grace is receiving good from God that you do not deserve.” Still, God’s grace is more easy to observe and experience than to define.
Probably, the most fundamental expression of God’s grace was His sending Jesus Christ as our Savior (Rom. 5:15). In sending Christ to the cross to die on our behalf, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves and did not deserve to have done for us. We were sinners by our own choice, ungodly, enemies of God (Rom. 5:10). God sent Christ to die for us anyway. That is God’s grace!
Salvation is something we cannot achieve on our own; we’re totally dependent upon God’s grace for our forgiveness and salvation (Eph. 2:1-5). We do not deserve salvation, we cannot earn it, God is not obligated to save us. It is only by His grace that we can be saved (Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:9).
At the same time we have responsibility toward God if we want to be recipients of His grace. God expects us to believe in Him and obey His teachings. Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). The gospel message holds God’s power to salvation (Rom. 1:16), but the gospel must be obeyed in order to be effective in our personal lives (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
Many people try to make God’s grace do away with any responsibility on our part pertaining to our salvation. But such clearly contradicts what the scriptures teach. We have a responsibility to believe in God (Heb. 11:6) and Christ (Jn. 8:24). We are responsible to act on that belief by actively repenting of our sins (Lk. 13:3; Acts 3:19), confessing our faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10) and surrendering to our Lord in baptism, at which time His blood shed on the cross will cleanse us of the guilt of our sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Only at that point do we come into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27) wherein salvation is found (Rom. 8:1). Then, we are responsible for living lives of faithfulness before God “until death” (Rev. 2:10).
While God’s grace, in sending Christ, brought an end to the law of Moses (Jn. 1:17), it did not do away with spiritual law. The New Testament references to the law of Christ are numerous (Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2; Jas. 1:25; 2:8). If there was no spiritual law, there would be no sin, for sin comes by knowledge of law (Rom. 3:20; 5:13; 7:8;). Sin is “transgression of the law” (KJV 1 Jn. 3:4). If there’s no law, there’s no sin. If there’s no sin, there’s no need for God’s grace. But sin abounds. Thank God for His grace!…
Gary L. Hutchens