The Essence of Grace

“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

What a marvelous declaration from God that echoes through this age, as penned by the Apostle Paul! However, it is so sad that many people are ignorant of the fact that we live in a time designated by God as one in which He is dispensing grace alone. When we read a passage in the scripture as Ephesians 3:1 & 2; “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, {2} If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:” we encounter this proclamation of God’s beneficence and wonder truly why so many have not heard.

On the other hand, there are many that proclaim God’s grace without actually comprehending its scope and nature. They see grace as “unmerited favor” in salvation but fail to recognize that grace is a life force that extends right to the details and circumstances of everyday living. In the view of many, we receive salvation as a gift from God apart from any merit based acceptance system but from that point on we all must earn God’s approval through meritorious service. This skewed view suggests that while we can’t earn God’s acceptance before conversion, but we can do so afterward.

(Eph 1:2-7) “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. {3} Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: {4} According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: {5} Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, {6} To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. {7} In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”

The crux of the matter is this – our status as being accepted of God is a positional issue, not a practical one. God accepts, and has chosen, each believer by virtue of our position in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and this acceptance is not conditioned by our ability in any way. There is an old saying, “Saved by grace; kept by grace.” I am unaware of the origin of this gem but I believe it to be true. However, in acknowledging its truth I must also confess that it is incomplete in its scope as it does not address the application of grace to the details of our lives.

(Gal 1:3-4) “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, {4} Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”

A foundational principle of grace is that it is part of the provision from God that delivers us from this “present” evil world. This speaks of more than being delivered from the penalty of sin and addresses the problem of the ownership, influence and power of this evil world upon the believer. God has empowered each believer to exist and, yes, even to flourish in the sinful environment of our time. It is possible for the believer to suffer evil circumstances with hope and confidence knowing that these situations are not a reflection of God’s regard for us but just the natural state of affairs on this planet. 

(2 Th 2:15-17) “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. {16} Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, {17} Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”

In our previous lost condition we had no choice but to walk according to the “course of this world.” Our life was characterized by disobedience and governed by the plan and power of Satan (Ephesians 2:1-2). But, gloriously, our Savior changed all of that! When we trusted the gospel of grace we became “new creatures in Christ” bringing us into a new relationship with God Himself, and also, consequently, to the world we live in. Paul addresses this later in Ephesians 2 when he states; “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast. {10} For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

Not only have we been delivered from the penalty of sin by grace, we have, through the grace of God’s workmanship, been made new creatures, delivered from the power and influence of this evil world and have become testaments to the riches of His grace.

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