What is Grace?

Genesis 6:8 “But Noah found grace in the eye of the Lord.”

We talk about grace – we are saved by grace, we live by grace, and so on. But what exactly is grace? What do we do to deserve grace? What can we do to get more grace?

Grace is not something that we can buy with money – there is no amount of gold, silver, precious stones, or anything else in this world that is valuable enough to buy it. “None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him.” (Psalm 49:7)

Grace is not something that we can earn – there is no good work or righteous deed that we can do that is good enough to please God. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6a)

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. We are not worthy to receive God’s favor, but He gives it to us despite ourselves. The Greek word for grace is ‘charis,’ and is found some 122 times just in the New Testament. Strong’s concordance defines it this way: “especially the divine influence upon the heart, and it’s reflection in the life.”

Among several other words, another word that ‘charis’ can be translated is ‘gift.’ A gift is not something that is earned or bought. A gift is something that is given with no strings attached to somebody else, usually to somebody that you care for. When you give a Christmas or Birthday present, you do not give it with stipulations that the person has to do something in return – you do it because you care about the person enough to get them something they would like.

God cares about you and me enough that He gave us His grace – a free gift of His favor. He loved you enough that He even left His Heavenly throne and the splendor of Heaven to come to this sin-cursed earth as a baby that would be mocked and ridiculed as an illegitimate child. He would grow up living a perfect, sinless life, and then be tortured and die on the cross of Calvary for your sins and mine. He loved you that much. Did we deserve it? Of course not – the Bible says that we are sinful and by nature the enemies of God (Romans 5:10).

Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Romans 4:16 says, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”

Romans 5:15 says, “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift of grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”

Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

If we have to work for something, it is not a gift. If we have to work for something, it is not grace. Grace requires that no work needs to be done. Grace requires that no payment is to be made. It is to be given freely to us. You would not expect someone to pay for their own Christmas present. In fact, you would probably be offended or even become angry if you bought a present for someone and they did try to pay you for it.

Everything does have a price – I’m not saying that there is no cost for anything. Everything that we have, everything that we give, everything that we receive, has a price tag on it. Something must be given to purchase something. If you go to the store, you cannot just take everything you want and just walk out of the store. That is shoplifting, and you will be stopped on your way out. You have to go through the register and pay for the items before you can leave.

There is a price for everything, but only one person pays that price. If you were to go to a restaurant, they do not bring a copy of the bill to each person, expecting each person to pay the entire the bill. I am sure that they would appreciate it, but it only needs to be paid once. People would think that you were a fool if you tried to pay for a meal that had already been paid.

If I were to give you a gift, I would pay the price for it. I would then give it to you, and it would be free of charge to you. When God gives His grace, He paid the price, and it is then free of charge to us. We will cover this later, but 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that we were “bought with a price.” Jesus Christ paid the price for us by dying on the cross and shedding His precious, sinless blood. He paid the price. We, then, are able to receive His grace – His gift – for free.

God’s grace is not given to completely erase our problems. God’s grace is not given to do away with those that oppose us and cause trouble in our lives. God’s grace is given so that we can be able to bear those burdens – so that we can even have peace while going through those problems. Eighteen times in seventeen books of the New Testament, the words ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ are mentioned together. Romans 1:7 says, “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Bible tells us that although His grace is free, we do have a responsibility not to abuse the grace that He gives us. If I were to buy a toy car for one of my nephews, they would not have to pay anything for them. I would, however, want them to take care of that toy, despite the fact that the average lifespan of a boy’s toy is about two days. I would want them to take care of it so that they can have it for a long time – to enjoy it, to play with it, and even to share it with others.

When God gives His grace, He wants us to take care of it as well. He wants us to keep it so we can enjoy it and share it with others as well. There are too many people that receive God’s grace, and are thankful at first, but then they quickly turn away from God and begin to think that they deserve the goodness that they received. Either that, or they are not content with what they have, and start to think that they deserve even more. We must be careful that we do not abuse the grace that God gives us.

Grace is God’s unmerited favor. He paid the price by sending His own Begotten Son to shed His own blood. He gives us His grace – free of charge, even by its definition. After He gives us His grace, we ought to have enough respect to acknowledge where it came from and to take care of it like we should. “Freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) We must share God’s grace with those around us, helping to comfort and give peace to others that are in need.

Of all the Bible’s penman, no man understood the meaning of grace more than the Apostle Paul. Look at his life: he was raised in the strictest of the Jewish religion, taught by the best Pharisees, lived a seemingly “sinless” life (as far as he believed), became a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and an bold, influential leader among the Jews. What did all that work get him? Nothing. It was all for naught. No wonder Paul said that he counted it all but dung!

Paul’s life prior to salvation was all about works, and nothing about grace. When he met Christ on the road to Damascus, his eyes were opened spiritually (blinded physically), and he could see the truth about grace. This eye-opening experience drove him to preach about God’s grace everywhere. His epistles are full of God’s grace. Consider this:

The word “grace” is found:

  • 170 times in 159 verses in the Bible
  • 37 verses in the Old Testament (23%)
  • 30 verses in the rest of the New Testament (19%)
  • 92 verses written by Paul (58%)
  • There are 100 chapters written by Paul, 92% of them speak about grace

God used Paul to write 58% of the verses in the Bible about grace! Paul truly knew what grace was and God used him to spread that truth.

As you read through the Pauline epistles, you see very blunt and bold preaching: pointing out sin, calling out those that are phony, strong instruction to preachers, etc. But in the midst of all of that, grace is seasoned throughout all of it. Paul is teaching us that God’s grace is absolutely essential for us to do the things that God wants us to do.

Another acronym I’ve heard is: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. God freely gives us of His riches, and it cost Christ His life!

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