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)
Love Jen Wilkin’s teaching and What You’ve done here to expand my understanding and appreciation of God’s grace. Thank you!
You’re welcome. 🙂 I don’t know how many times I’ve read that verse about what grace teaches, but never considered what it means that grace teaches. I love when something in a book or study opens up a whole new consideration.
Loved this post, Barbara. Grace is something I think about a lot (and I also wrote about grace this week). This sentence stopped me in my tracks: ” His grace enables us to obey and live for Him and say no to self.” Wow! Grace allows us to say no to self. I will be thinking about that for a long time. Thanks for giving me that blessing!
That thought struck me, too. We think of grace in relation to forgiveness, but it helps us avoid sin as well.
I like this a lot! Love when a new idea is presented, such as you’ve brought out here with what grace does rather than what it is. Thanks for giving me good food for thought this Monday!
You’re welcome. 🙂 I enjoyed “chewing” in thought over this.
Barbara – this hit the spot in a I-need-this-right-now way! Holding on to this: “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)
Thank you, Maryleigh. I lean on that verse often.
I really enjoyed how you unpacked grace. No, it’s not a free pass to do whatever we want expecting God’s grace to cover it all. I love the part about how grace teaches – training us up to release worldly and ungodly passions and living lives marked by self-control. This sounds like a needed recipe for our world right now. How awesome all the facets of grace. I especially appreciate the sufficiency it affords us in times of trial. Great post!
I’m using to thinking of grace in regard to forgiveness and undeserved blessing, But it was neat to discover these aspects of it, too.
I love this. It’s easy to know about grace and takes far more effort to practice it. I love your list of exactly what grace does. It’s all too easy to forget just how powerful and important grace is and I truly appreciate the reminder.
Thank you, Jed. I enjoyed learning about grace’s activities.
Barbara, The way you described grace as being active had me nodding my head. I hadn’t really thought about just how active grace is in a believer’s life! Thanks for some insightful thoughts on which to meditate today!
Thank you, Jeanne. I enjoyed the study.
I am so grateful for GRACE!
I love this post. Thank you for the deeper understanding. I’ve learned to embrace grace after reading Phillip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace during a study we did at church. Powerful and humbling. And I’m so thankful for God’s amazing grace.
Thank you. I am thankful for grace, too–it’s such an amazing topic.
Love this. I think I often compartmentalize grace as the get out of hell free card, but it means so much more.
I’m using to thinking of grace in regard to forgiveness and undeserved blessings, too. But it takes God’s grace as well to resist temptation and have victory over sin.
Grace, it is forgiveness
that you don’t deserve,
offered with a tenderness
by a God who serves.
Grace, it is a lesson
that we learn every day,
for even when we’re messin’
up things, that’s OK,
’cause God is like a parent,
teaching kid to ride a bike;
when you fail, grace is apparent,
for God won’t take a hike.
But I won’t mention, never fear,
’twas Grace who married Prince Rainier.
Thank you for visiting, Andrew. Your last line gave me a smile. 🙂 I love thinking of God as a tender parent.
Thank God for Grace! And thank you for linking up at Legacy Link-up
Thank you for sharing these insights Barbara. Grace is something we talk about a lot, but the more we learn, the more we find there is to learn!
That’s true–we’ll never completely mine the depths.
I am thankful grace is something we can grow in. I know that grace is not a “get out of jail free” card but as Jen says, ‘training us to renounce ungodliness. Thank you for diving deeper into grace.
We’re so used to thinking about grace for forgiveness, but we need it so much just to live for God. I’m thankful He has an abundant supply.
beautiful encouragement and reminder! i love jen wilkin’s book and also found it encouraging! I practice certain things i call grace practices as an overflow of my relationship with the Grace GIver! Thank you for sharing this!
Thanks, Mariel. I’ve enjoyed every Jen Wilkin book and article I’ve read.
All of these are such wonderful truths and blessings – all because of His amazing grace – but I am most struck with grace’s sufficiency…and from the comfort it gives! How richly blessed I am!!
I love to turn over that word “sufficiency,” too–whatever we need, His grace is more than sufficient.
Enabling grace, and I loved that you finished with a John Newton quote – someone who truly knew God’s amazing grace – thank you
Thank you for sharing about grace. It is a word I struggle with because it has so many meaning. I am going to come back over and over to this post. Thank youfor sharing with Grace &Truth.
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