John Newton, the author of one of the most beloved Christian hymns, confessed,
“Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.”
Countless hymns, worship songs, and poems have been written on the concept of grace. Christians testify that their salvation is by grace alone, and ministers preach sermons on this topic. But what is grace? How does scripture describe it? What difference does it make in the life of a follower of Jesus?
What is grace?
Grace is undeserved favor or mercy. The word usually has a religious connotation, but not always. In the definition of grace, the emphasis is on the favor or mercy being undeserved. Grace cannot be earned. Human beings don’t deserve a personal relationship with their Creator, but He graciously loves us despite our rebellion against His wisdom for our lives. Without grace, we cannot know God.
Generally speaking, God’s grace can be …
- Unearned favor or mercy that God gives to people
- Forgiveness and pardon
- Loving kindness
- A gift of goodwill
- Undeserved assistance and power that God gives to people
How does scripture describe God’s grace?
Scripture speaks of God’s grace extensively, beginning in the Old Testament and expanding on the theme in the New Testament. How does God describe His grace in His Word?
Scripture describes God’s grace as …
- kind and merciful.
- freely given.
- extending favor.
- given to us in our times of need.
- an expression of God’s love.
- expressed through Christ in His incarnation.
- God’s supernatural assistance to followers of Jesus to become new people in Christ. This process is also known as sanctification, in which we become more and more like Jesus.
- God pouring out His goodness on both the grateful and the wicked. He gives sunlight to the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust.
How does God’s grace affect our lives?
After we encounter God’s grace, how do our lives change? We begin walking through our daily lives reflecting the character of Jesus.
- We receive God’s salvation in Christ through grace. We are unable to earn our salvation from sin. We receive God’s forgiveness for sin and redemption in Christ, which establishes a personal relationship with our Creator.
- Grace equips us and gives us spiritual gifts to build up the church and do God’s work; for example, teaching, organizing, serving in practical ways, giving generously, or encouraging others.
- Grace strengthens a believer’s heart.
- Grace gives us the ability to do God’s will, including good works.
- Grace gives us power to resist the devil.
- Grace enables people to worship and obey God.
- Grace produces humility, godliness, and strength in difficult circumstances.
- Christians pray and entrust others to God’s grace when they are setting out to do the work He has prepared for them to do. Before Paul and Barnabas set out on their missionary journey, the believers in Antioch entrusted them to the grace of God to do the work God had called them to do.
- Grace produces Christlikeness in our lives (sanctification).
In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God…” (Titus 2:11-12).
Through grace, God enables us to turn away from a self-absorbed life and reorient ourselves to a life devoted to God. Our daily lives are transformed from living according to the world’s pleasures to living wisely and in awe of God.
To continue with the words of John Newton,
“Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, filling your heart, mind, and soul. Amen.