“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. ‘Twas blind but now I see.”
No subject is more misunderstood than God’s grace. Some believe that grace means that man needs to do nothing to get salvation – all man needs to do is sit back and God will save him. Others treat grace as though the subject were dangerous. They say things like: “Teaching individuals about grace will cause them to think they have nothing to do with their own salvation” or “Teaching about grace will cause people to sin.”
Neither view is appropriate, for grace is a biblical subject. God is the God of all grace (1 Pet. 5:10). The Word of God is spoken of as “the word of grace.” Paul received ministry “from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Paul commended the Ephesian elders “to God and to the word of His grace” (Acts 20:32).
Grace is God’s unmerited favor toward us. Grace basically says that we don’t deserve to be saved, but God saves us anyway. This is true, for God has not dealt with us according to our sins (Ps. 103:10).
The Colossians knew God’s grace in truth (Col. 1:6). This verse implies that God’s grace can be known in error. If the Colossians had known God’s grace in truth, it could also be known in error. Tonight, we want to examine what the Bible teaches about grace, so that we can know God’s grace in truth.
The Bible says that we are saved by grace. Jews and Gentiles alike are saved “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11). We have been saved by grace (Eph. 2:5). God’s grace brings salvation (Tit. 2:11).
We have been justified by grace (Rom. 3:24). To justify means “to make right.” We have been made right before God by his grace. God makes us faultless before his throne (Jude 24). He does so by his grace. If being presented faultless before God’s throne were not by his grace, Jude would have written, “Praise yourselves, for you have made yourselves spotless before his throne.”
God was gracious to Israel (Deut. 7:6-9). The Lord chose Israel over every other nation. Not because they deserved to be chosen – they had done nothing to deserve to be chosen. But God chose Israel because he loved them.
God has likewise chosen us. We do not deserve to be saved. The prodigal told his father, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Lk. 15:21). We are not worthy to be sons of God. We are saved because of God’s grace.
Grace Saves Apart from Works
The Bible teaches that grace does not result from works. If salvation is by grace, it is not by works (Rom. 11:6). God saved us, not according to our works, but according to his grace (2 Tim. 1:9). We are saved by grace, not by works (Eph. 2:8). If one works, the wages are counted as debt, not as grace (Rom. 4:4).
The works being discussed here are works of merit. The Bible does not mean to imply that we do not need to obey God. What the Bible does mean is that regardless of what I do I am never worthy of eternal life; we can never, by our goodness, deserve eternal life. Even after I have worked in God’s kingdom, salvation is still God’s gift (Rom. 6:23).
No matter what I do, I cannot earn salvation. I can’t work hard enough in the church to deserve to be saved. I can’t give enough money to the church to deserve to be saved. I can’t convert enough souls to the Lord to deserve to be saved. “Not the labor of my hands Can fulfill the law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone. Thou must save and Thou alone.”
If we get to the point where we believe we are saved by our own goodness, and not God’s grace, we become like the Pharisee (Lk. 18:9-12). He praised God for what he was: He wasn’t like the lowly tax collector, and he did many wonderful works – fasted twice a week, gave a tenth of all that he had, kept the law perfectly.
We can be the same way. “God, you’ve got to save me – I’m not an adulterer, I’m not a thief, I don’t use your name in vain.” “God, you’ve got to save me – I give 25% of what I make, I attend every church service, I take food to the needy.”
Do we realize it’s God’s grace that saves and not our own works?
Grace Saves Through Jesus
The Bible teaches this. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:17). Jesus, by God’s grace, tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9). Though Jesus was rich, he became poor for our sakes (2 Cor. 8:9). God’s grace was given to us by Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:4).
Grace came to light through Jesus in that he chose to die for our sins, he wasn’t forced to die for us. He could have called twelve legions of angels (Matt. 26:53). Jesus laid down his life of himself (Jn. 10:18).
Jesus chose to give himself for us. Have you chosen to give yourself for him?
Grace Saves by Abounding
The Bible teaches that God’s grace abounds toward his people. We have forgiveness according to the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7). The grace of the Lord Jesus is exceedingly abundant (1 Tim. 1:14). God’s grace has abounded to many (Rom. 5:15).
Christians have received grace for grace (Jn. 1:16). The idea is probably that we receive grace in place of grace. In place of the old grace that we had the day before, we are granted new grace daily, just as the Hebrews daily received new manna in the wilderness. “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22-23).
There is nothing God’s grace cannot cover. No matter what sins I’ve committed, God’s grace can save. “Deeper than the ocean, Wider than the sea, Is the grace of the Savior For sinners like me.”
Grace Changes People
By God’s grace, Paul became a new person (1 Cor. 15:10).
Those who have died to sin cannot live any longer in it (Rom. 6:1-2). Paul was concerned that some of those to whom he wrote would think they didn’t need to obey God. After all, God loves to forgive people. The more I sin, the more chance God will have to forgive. Yet, when one realizes the riches of God’s grace, he will want to do what is right.
Have you been transformed by the grace of God?
Grace is God’s greatest gift – we don’t deserve to be saved, yet God saves anyway.
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Man has a part in his salvation – faith. Faith leads to a full obedience (Heb. 11:8).
Why would we not want to obey God when we realize what he has done for us?