Grace: What Is It?
Grace, grace, marvelous grace. Indeed we have to marvel at the grace of God, which is defined by most as “unmerited favor.” This favor toward us is wholly by and in the power and will of God. It is the Lord God who alone bestowed this “favor” on all, but only those who would believe in the finished work of His only begotten Son, Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ, would benefit from His grace.
This grace was also decided upon by our Lord before the foundation of the earth as per Ephesians 1:4-7. “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of His grace.”
Speaking of Jesus, I Peter 1:20 declares “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, who raised Him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
This grace that is part of the nature of God is known as “common grace.” In other words, God’s unmerited favor which means undeserved favor, for we did nothing to earn it, and His desire to bestow it to people is never apart from Him. It gets better than that. Grace is also the name theologians gave to one of the dispensations of God in which we are to recognize and obey our Lord’s will – first of all, by coming to Him, and then by continually abiding in Him through faith. This dispensation is commonly referred to as the dispensation of Grace, also known as The Church Age.
No study of grace can be effective or make much sense at all unless it is contrasted with the Law of Moses which was another dispensation – or time of administration – in which common grace was applicable, but not the whole all-out administration of God’s favor. Most have heard the saying, “peace on earth, good will toward men.” This is mostly seen on Christmas cards. Far from meaning that there is going to be “peace on earth between men” it actually speaks of peace between those who live on earth (mankind) and Almighty God. But, it gets even better than that. If we understand that in the Greek, which is the language of the New Testament, what the Bible is really saying is “peace on earth, good will toward men on whom God’s favor rests” that this favor is that undeserved “grace” we’ve been discussing.
The law of God is also a dispensation in which all Israel including Gentile proselyte’s, those who lived among the Jews and who chose to adhere to Jehovah God and His dictates, were to do all that was written in the Law. This Law is commonly referred to as the dispensation of the Law of Moses.
All of the dispensations of God are God’s programs so mankind could be tested. This testing, however, is the kind that seeks advancement (dokimazo in Greek) rather than failure as is the case when Satan tests us (peirazo in Greek). The ‘Tempter’ (Peirazon) in Greek is, in fact, one of the five “descriptions of Satan” as per Matthew 4:3 and I Thessalonians 3:5.
While we believers are not only under grace, we are also to grow in, stand in, abound in, be strong in, receive, and speak with; and while grace is all sufficient, all abundant, glorious, great, rich, and much more, grace can unfortunately also be turned from, abused, and frustrated.
The Apostle Paul tells us in the book of Galatians in the fifth chapter verse four, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.” Since He “become” of no effect He obviously once was.
The phrase “fallen from grace” is the key. First off, one cannot “fall” from a place one hasn’t actually been. For example, someone cannot fall from a step, a ladder, or a tree if one was never there. By the same token, one cannot fall out of love if one has never been in love.
The other important factor about this rather famous line is that it doesn’t mean what the world (the unbelievers) says it does. The world believes and propagates that this phrase means that someone, usually a preacher, has fallen into sin – and a one big one at that.
What it actually means is that a person is living his or her life in such a way as to try to earn their way into heaven by being good and collecting merits; thus bypassing the only true way to get there, namely, the only way that the Father has already accepted, through the death on the cross of Calvary by His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ.
What we think ought to be the standard doesn’t matter. What God says about His standard does.
Grace is that power God offers to all mankind in order for them not to have to pay the penalty of spiritual death which means a forever separation from the living God. The only one who ever earned and thus deserved grace was Christ Jesus Himself. It is His act of submission to the Father in willfully dying on the cross to save as many of mankind who want to be saved and thus accept the free offer of pardon. All who want salvation must accept what is already offered for there is no other way.
Acts 4:12 informs us that there is only one name given to men under heaven by which we must be saved. Peter the apostle was speaking and is of course referring to Jesus the Christ. His name in Hebrew is Yeshua which is a contraction of Jehovah-tshuva and means Jehovah saves.
God Himself informs us through the prophet Isaiah “I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no Savior.” (Isaiah 43:11)
In short, grace is God’s power available to us to say no to sin. God wrote His laws, especially those dealing with God’s holiness and those dealing with His morality, on our hearts and has given us a heart of flesh, as opposed to stone, with the New Covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-33; 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19; Hebrew 8:10)