Most Christians are familiar with the word “grace.” If asked about it’s meaning, we could come up with something about “unmerited favor.” Pressed further, we’d explain that grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve: salvation first of all, then answered prayer and abundant blessings. We could differentiate grace from mercy: God not giving us what we do deserve: anger and punishment. We know that we’re saved by grace through faith: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”. (Ephesians 2:8)
Yet for the first time, I was struck this weekend not just by what grace is, but what it does. Thanks to Jen Wilkin in her book In His Image, who shared these first two points in chapter 6, “God Most Gracious,” and sparked a mini-study and a lot of thought.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
The NIV and KJV and a few other versions say “teaching” instead of “training.” Others say “instructing.”
And what does God’s grace teach us? “To renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (verse 12). Since Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works,” His grace enables us to obey and live for Him and say no to self. This is one reason why the thought that grace will encourage people to sin because they can “get away with it” is so erroneous. That’s not what grace teaches.
This paragraph also demonstrates that good works come after and from salvation. Our good works don’t count for our salvation.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:1)
Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. (Hebrews 13:9)
Grace gives comfort and hope:
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
Grace makes sufficient:
And 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.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
In addition, Paul often mentions how God’s grace enabled him to do what God called him to. One example: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
The entire Godhead is involved with grace: The Father: 2 John 1:3, Philippians 1:2; The Son of God, full of grace and truth: John 1:14; The Spirit of grace: Hebrews 10:29.
Thankfully, grace is something we can grow in (for more information, see What does it mean to grow in grace?. 2 Peter 2:18 says “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.” And who does He give His grace to? “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
And where does this grace come from? It’s not a separate entity: it comes from God. What a marvelous gift we have in God’s grace!
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
(Sharing with Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul, Remember Me Monday, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies,
Let’s Have Coffee, Heart Encouragement, Faith on Fire,
Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network)