For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”—Proverbs 2:6
As Christians, we hear the talk of grace so often whether it’s within a church building, on the television from some televangelist, on the radio from a Christian talk show, or from someone on the streets and rightfully so as grace is an important aspect in a Christian’s life. With all the talk, I sometimes wonder if we truly understand what grace is and when we study scripture, we understand that grace is not just a concept we hear about but one that Christians live by.
If we do a word search, we find that grace is mentioned many times within God’s word but the number of times it’s mentioned depends on what translation of the Bible you use. For example, the King James Version uses grace one-hundred seventy (170) times whereas the New International Version only uses the term one-hundred thirty-one (131) times. This may not sound like a significant difference; thirty-nine times, but changing the way scripture is written can change the entire meaning of a particular scripture but in either case, whether one-hundred seventy or one-hundred-thirty one, God’s word is clear that grace is significant.
But what is grace and what is its significance? When we do a dictionary search for grace, we see different definitions such as “courteous goodwill” or an “elegance or refinement of movement” but in terms of the Christian faith, grace is a concept that is referred to as “the free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” In other words, we sinners are saved by God’s love and grace not because we deserve it but rather, because of God’s love or because of who God is.
God is all-powerful (Genesis 1:3) and all-knowing (1 John 3:20). He knows exactly what we are going to do before we do as He knew us before He formed us (Jeremiah 1:5). More importantly, though, God is all merciful and we see this throughout scripture especially with different prophets and disciples and God is loving and there is no better example than what Jesus did on the cross for His creation. This is who God is and what God does so it is easy to understand that God favors us and grants us grace but why is this significant?
This is significant because “We, the People” are undeserving of His grace and we can trace this back to the fall of man. Many will argue that we are born innocent but then become sinners as we grow into the ways of this world while many others argue that once we are born, we instantly become sinners and regardless of which you believe, the result is the same: we are all sinners and none are deserving of God’s grace and mercy but God grants it to us anyway. We see this on the cross when we read that God could not look at Jesus, His perfect son, because of all the sins He took on and we understand this better when Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Scripture tells us that “….For by grace are you saved….” (Ephesians 2:8) which means, for salvation we have nothing more to do. We do not get into Heaven through our works or by how much charity we do or how much money we give to the church and while these actions speak volumes about where our hearts are, they do not save us. Therefore, the only way to our eternal reward is through Jesus Christ and His grace which He gives to us not because of anything we have done but because of who He is.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”—Ephesians 2:8-9