One of the most unique teachings of the Bible and Christian faith is the whole concept of grace. Many religions teach that there are paths to God that involve various things: keeping laws, following a way of suffering and sacrifice, earning favor by good deeds. But Christianity teaches that relationship with God comes through grace. Grace is unmerited favor – undeserved acceptance. It is being loved and received by God on some other basis than what we deserve or have earned.
We sing about grace – “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.” To be found by God, forgiven by God, rescued by God, filled with purpose by God – this is grace. This is God’s gift to us in Jesus.
The grace of God is the favor of God – the approval and acceptance that God gives to those who follow Jesus Christ. How can a person like me, a sinful man, ever hope to have the favor and approval of a Holy God? I have no hope for that within myself. But God, out of His love for us, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the weight and penalty of our sinfulness. His death on the cross paid the debt in full – for God had said, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sin.”
God’s grace provides a way for us to have a rich and fulfilling relationship with our Heavenly Father. The Bible puts it like this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
THE GIFT OF GRACE
One of the rather odd things about human nature is our reluctance to receive from God that which we cannot provide for ourselves. Who does not enjoy receiving a gift? Gifts can make us feel loved and special. God has given us a gift – in the Person of His Son, Jesus – we are given grace (favor with God that we cannot on our own, earn). The thing that makes this gift more difficult for us is that in order to receive it, we must admit that we need it. Grace means by definition that it cannot be earned – so it is really a gift from God to undeserving people. In order for me to receive this gift of grace, I must come face-to-face with the realization that I need grace in order to be in relationship with God. It requires honesty and humility to say, “Father, I need and want your approval. I am relying on Jesus to gain that approval on my behalf.”
Grace – the blessing and favor of God expressed to those who do not and cannot deserve such favor. God is holy, pure and far above us. What is our hope for having a relationship with Him and even experiencing His approval? We are completely unable to gain this on our own. So – God Himself has made a way for us to know Him, to enjoy Him, to experience His favor. That way to the Father is known only through Jesus – that is why Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Our loving Heavenly Father has made the way for us to be in relationship with Him. The Bible tells us that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” May we all consider this carefully – it is God’s gift of grace for us.
THE GREATEST EXCHANGE
A wonderful thing happens when we realize our need for God’s grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ. All that is wrong about me, all which is sinful and disappointing, is put upon Jesus. Then – all that is right about Jesus is given to me. What a great exchange for us! This is what grace is all about – God helping us where we cannot help ourselves.
To try to live independently of God is to live in futility. We are created for relationship – and the most important relationship is between God and man. The great barrier though, is that God is holy and we are not. So – God provided for our need through Jesus. All of His goodness is given in exchange for all of our sin – that is what the cross is all about. This is God’s grace.
Bob serves as the lead pastor on Lifegate’s pastoral team and is the primary preaching pastor. He received his BA from Asbury College and MDiv from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.