What is Grace?
Grace is God’s unmerited favour towards sinners. It is the essence of the Gospel: in Acts 20:24, the apostle Paul refers to “the gospel of the grace of God.” It is a gift: “…all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
A gift is free to the receiver, but not to the giver, who bears the cost. The gift of salvation is free to everyone who accepts it by faith, but Jesus died in our place in order to offer it to us. How extraordinary is this grace, because the gift of salvation is ours to keep! God’s grace is ours for as long as we choose to accept it.
But while the cost to Jesus was extreme – he died in our place so we could live – he did this willingly for our sakes. Grace is ‘part of his very DNA’, it is a fundamental aspect of the nature of God. The Bible describes Jesus, the Son of God, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Grace in the Hebrew Scriptures is often translated from a Hebrew word meaning to bend or stoop in kindness. When the Old Testament talks about God’s grace, we are given a picture of our Heavenly Father stooping down to us in his kindness and love. We know that by ourselves we never merit God’s favour, but because of his great love and mercy, he offers it to us through the sacrifice of Jesus.
‘Grace’ is translated from the Greek word charis (from which we also get our English word ‘charity’) meaning gift, favour, gratitude and joy. There are dozens of uses of ‘grace’ in the Bible, and they are associated with the mercy and forgiveness of God.
The Apostle Paul usually links grace and peace, because these are the great gifts of the gospel. Lost, sinful people need the peace that can only come from accepting God’s grace—the loving gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, revealed through his life, teachings, death and resurrection.
Grace is the opposite of the impossible work of trying to earn our own salvation. While Jesus did not abolish the law, he contrasted it with the gift of grace, which is the only way we can be perfect in the sight of the law in this life: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Elsewhere in the New Testament, writers such as Paul go to great lengths to explain that God’s grace does not cancel out the law, but justifies believers before God, because Jesus’ sacrifice covers their sinfulness. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8).
God’s grace is the greatest miracle of the universe for Christians. It is the reason to live a joyous, hopeful life.
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