Grace is one of the most important and the most misunderstood doctrines in the Church. In reaction to legalism, some have taken this doctrine to the extreme and many have been deceived and led into error. Before we study this important doctrine we need to understand some very important truths about grace.
First of all, grace is not there to cover sin or to give us a license to sin, but it is God’s ability to empower us to live righteously. In Romans 6:1-2 we read, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Grace does not cover sin, but empowers righteousness!
Secondly, grace does not mean that we can ignore the commands in the Bible: Even though the New Covenant commenced when Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples in the Great Commission to “teach them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.”(Matthew 28:19)Obedience to the word of God will always be important. Grace does not excuse us from the moral obligations of the law, (for example, you shall not steal, commit adultery, etc.) but from the outward actions to justify ourselves before God. We will not go to heaven because we keep the commandments, or because we are good people, but because we believe in Jesus and what He has done on the cross for us.
Thirdly, repentance will always be necessary even if we live under grace: Even though we live under grace we will still need to confess and repent of our sins. We read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Some have argued that this verse is for unbelievers and not for Christians. However, notice the word, ‘we’. It does not say ‘they’! The Bible also says, “Confess your sins to one another that you may be healed.”(James 5:16) Furthermore, we read that “godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.”(2 Corinthians 7:10) Repentance is one of the ways that we humble ourselves before God and the Bible says that God “gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:8)
Fourthly, grace does not mean that we cannot lose our salvation: In other words, once saved always saved and just because we once received Jesus and prayed the sinner’s prayer, we will go to heaven no matter how we live. There are many verses in the Bible that contradict this argument. For example, we find this phrase in what Jesus said in Revelations 3:5, “He that overcomes… I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.” This implies that our names can be blotted out of the book of life! The Bible also says, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” (2 Peter 2:20)We also read in Hebrews 3:12, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” This verse implies that we can depart from the living God. There are also many other verses in the Bible that warn us that we can lose our salvation.
What is grace?.
Firstly, grace is God’s divine ability:
This ability gives us the power to live the new life in Christ. Grace gives us that what God requires from us. Titus 2:11-12 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
The first example of grace in the Bible is found in the Garden of Eden. God said to Adam and Eve. In Genesis 1:28 we read, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion ….” We notice that God first blessed them, then He told them to be fruitful and multiply. They did not have to do something to be blessed, but from a position of blessing they received the ability to do something. This is grace!
The same applies to us, we do not have to do something in order to be blessed, for the Bible says God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) Even if we feel that we are weak and far away from God, we can still be blessed because of God’s grace. In fact, when we woke up this morning, we woke up with God’s blessing and favor. This did not depend on our prayers or our performance!
Grace is a divine influence on our hearts that gives us the willingness to do what God wants us to do. We read in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Not only does God tell us what to do, but He works in our hearts to make us willing to do so. Legalism says, if we are obedient, God will bless us. Grace says, because I am blessed, I have the desire to be obedient to God. We do not do things because we have to do them, but because we want to do them. I do not pray, because I must pray, but because I want to pray. Furthermore, we do not only want to do things for Jesus, but we enjoy doing things for Him. We pray because we enjoy praying, etc.
Secondly, grace is the unmerited, undeserved and unearned favor and kindness of God.
The Bible says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24) Again we see that grace gives us something that is free. Therefore, if it is free, then we cannot earn it!
When Jesus dies for us on the cross, His final words were, “it is finished.” In the original language this means, “I have paid the price in full!” If Jesus paid the full price, this means that we do not have to pay anything and there is nothing we can do to deserve anything from God. The only reason why we receive anything from God, is because of what Jesus has done on the cross for us. If we think we have to do something to earn something from God, we are then saying that the price He paid on the cross was not good enough for God!
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Everything we receive is by grace through faith. Grace is what God does, faith is what we do. We receive by faith that what God gives us by grace. This does not only apply to salvation, but to every area of our lives. God heals us because of His grace and not because we deserve it.
How do we receive the grace of God?
Although we cannot earn the grace of God, there are means by which we can receive and experience the grace of God. The Bible says in Romans 5:17b “Those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one Christ Jesus.” Therefore we need to know how to receive the grace of God
The first source of grace, is the word of God:
We read in Acts 20:32, “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” When we read, meditate and confess the word of God, grace is released into our lives. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is “alive and quick…” The word quick, come from the Greek word, “energes.” Therefore, supernatural, divine energy flows into our lives when we read, meditate and confess the word of God. The more we do so, the more we will experience the grace of God!
The second source of grace is the Holy Spirit:
In Hebrews 10:29, the Holy Spirit is called the “Spirit of Grace.” In Acts 1:8 it says, “You shall receive power when the Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be My witnesses …” We read in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” When we live by grace, the Holy Spirit gives us the victory over the desires of the flesh. On the other hand if we live by legalism and not by grace, we will try hard to avoid the desires of the flesh in order to walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will take away the desires of the flesh when we walk in the Spirit! Therefore, the Holy Spirit is a source of grace that gives us the victory over the desire of the flesh and over sin.
The third source of grace comes from our relationship with other believers in the church:
Through our relationship with other believers, God imparts to us His grace. He has placed gifts, ministries and resources in the church to bless us, to empower us and to help us. We read in Acts 4:32-33, “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; …. And great grace was upon them all.” In Psalm 133:1 and 3, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity … for there the Lord commands the blessing, life forevermore.” God’s resources are often in the church. That is why we need to be part of an alive and vibrant church. In Psalm 36:8 it says, “I am abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house.” Grace often flows from God, via other believers, to us.
The fourth source of grace is humility and repentance:
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5, “God gives grace to the humble…” We also read in Isaiah 57:15, “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” As we humble ourselves and repent, God will revive us and give us His grace. In fact, repentance is one of the ways that we humble ourselves before God.
We read in 2 Corinthians 7:11. “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” When they repented there was a new zeal, new freedom and a new release of grace to overcome sin and give them a new hunger and desire for the things of God. As we genuinely repent of a particular sin, for example lust, God will give us His grace to overcome that sin.
The fifth source of grace is to acknowledge our dependence of God and His grace:
God gives grace to those who acknowledge that they need God’s grace. Jesus said in John 15:5, “Without Me you can do nothing.” Often God will wait for us to come to the end of our own abilities and efforts before He releases His grace. When He does so, we will give Him all the glory. In Matthew 5:3 we read that“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God.” The poor in spirit are those who realize that they have a need.
God also said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Furthermore, it is not only our dependence on God that is important, but we also need to be humble enough to receive from others.
The sixth source of grace, is the throne of Grace:
We can always approach God in prayer and ask Him to give us grace when we need it. We read in Hebrews 4:16, ” Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Notice we can come boldly, without shame or condemnation. When we face any situation that is to big and difficult for us, we can ask God the Father, in the name of Jesus to give us the grace to do so.
The seventh source of grace, is the life of Jesus in us.
In 2 Peter 1:2-3 we read “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” As we spend time in His presence, in prayer, worship and reading the Bible, we will experience more and more of His grace
The Bible says in John 1:14 that when Jesus came, “He was full of grace and truth.” He is our source of grace. Not only that, but the Bible also says that “Christ lives in us” (Galatians 2:20) If this is so, then the greatest source of grace, is the very life of Jesus that is in us, living in our born-again spirit man. Therefore, Jesus is not only our Lord and Savior, He is everything to us. Colossians 2:10 says that “we are complete in Him.” If we need peace, He is our peace, if we need joy, He is our joy, if we need healing, He is our healing, etc. As we believe and receive this wonderful truth, we will experience His grace working in us and through us! (Testimony)
Results of Grace:
How do we know that we are living under grace?
1. We will have victory in our Christian lives:
We have already read in Romans 5:17, “… those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Our ability to receive the grace of God is one of the greatest keys to victory and to “reign in life.” We have a wonderful promise in 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.“
2. It will be easy to serve and obey God.
In Matthew 11:30, Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” If we ever find that it is a heavy burden and difficult to live for Jesus, it means that we are probably not living under grace but under law. The grace that saved us is also the grace that will continually empower us and keep us. Paul speaks about his own ministry and life in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Grace is like spiritual fuel that gives us the energy to do what God wants us to do.
3. We will focus on the heart and the inner life:
Grace does not focus on outward things such as behavior, what we eat, what we drink and on the clothes that we wear. In Romans 14:17 we read, “The Kingdom of God is not eat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The grace of God will change our inner live, which in turn will affect our outer behavior. God said to Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have [a]refused him. For[b] the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”“
4. There will be joy in our lives: Jesus said in John 17:3, “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” Those who live by grace usually are relaxed and joyful. They love to sing, rejoice, laugh, smile and be happy. On the other hand, those who live under the law are usually sad, serious and have very little joy. Joy is often the manifestation of God’s grace.
5. Our lives begin to change without any effort:
Jesus said, “Whoever abides in Me and I in Him bears much fruit.” (John 15:53) We will not try so hard to be spiritual, but we will grow spiritually, automatically. Furthermore, wewill not even be aware that we are growing spiritually even though others will notice it. The Bible says that God works “in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
6. We will be motivated by the love and gratitude.
The Bible says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:10) We do things for Him because we love Him. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ compels us.” It is easy to do things for those whom we love and for those whom we know love us. For example, when a boy falls in love with a girl, he will do anything for her. In the same way, when we fall in love with Jesus, we will do anything to please Him.
Finally, there is no limit to what God can do in us, for us and through us when we live under the grace of God, we will be so blessed. 2 Corinthians 13:13, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the [a]communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Amen.