What does grace mean?
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, when God said to Adam and Eve. 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 ….” (Genesis 1:28) 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!
Furthermore, grace is a divine influence on our hearts that gives us the willingness to do what God wants us to do. 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) Grace gives us something that is free. When Jesus died 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. God does not owe us anything! The price was paid in full, therefore all we need to do now, to receive by faith that what God has given to us by grace. If we have to do something to receive something from God, it means that we do not believe that the price that Jesus paid on the cross was good enough!
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 to experience the grace of God
Although we cannot earn the grace of God, there are certain things we need to do in order receive and experience the grace of God. Let’s consider the following illustration: I have decided to give you $1000, but in order to receive this money, you must meet me in a certain restaurant at a certain time. The money is free, but there is something you need to do, to receive this money. You must be at the restaurant at a certain time the restaurant! We will consider a few things that we need to do, in order to experience the grace of God. We will call them ” sources of grace.
Firstly, grace is imparted to us through reading and meditating on 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! Jesus said in John 6:63, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” When we receive a personal word or instruction from God, we will also receive the grace of God to fulfill it!
Secondly, grace is imparted to us through 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 …” God will give us the grace to do what He has called us to do, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We read in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” Legalism says, “if you avoid the desires of the flesh, you will be in the Spirit.” However, grace says, “if you walk in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” The Holy Spirit, not only gives us the grace to do what God has called us to do, but also to be what He has called us to be! Therefore, we should always depend on the Holy Spirit and allow Him to lead us.
Thirdly, grace is imparted to us through the church:
We read in Acts 4:32-33, ” Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; …. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” Grace is imparted to us through our relationships with other Christians. We read in Psalm 92:13-14, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing.” God’s resources are often in the church. That is why we need to be connected to an alive and vibrant church. In Psalm 133 we read, “Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity … there God commands His blessing and life forevermore. God uses people to bless us. If we cut ourselves off from people, we cut ourselves off from His blessings!
Fourthly, grace is imparted to us through humility and repentance:
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:5, “God gives grace to the humble…” We 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.” Repentance is one of the ways that we humble ourselves before God. Deep sincere repentance, releases the grace of 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, a new release of grace to overcome the sin and a new hunger and desire for the things of God. If we have weaknesses and sins and repent deeply of them, we release grace to overcome those weaknesses. (E.g. anger, lust, etc.)
Humility also means, that we are always dependant on God. Jesus said in John 15:5, “Without Me you can do nothing.” As we continually look to God as the source of our strength and realize that we can do nothing without Him, we will continually experience a flow of God’s grace into our lives. Jesus said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then wrote, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory 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. God often uses others to be His channel of grace towards us!
Fifthly, we receive grace when we come to the Throne of Grace:
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. This is because of what Jesus has done on the cross for us. We receive grace, because we ask God to give us grace!
Results of 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. “The shall 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.” 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. If it is difficult to follow Jesus and live the Christian life, it probably means that we are living under the law and not under grace. When we live by grace, we will actually enjoy doing what God has called us to do. (Such us praying, witnessing etc.)
3. We will focus more on the heart and the inner life than on outward actions and behavior:
In Romans 14:17 we read, “The Kingdom of God is not eat or drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” When we live by grace we will not judge people by their actions and behavior, but we will focus more on their motives and the condition of their hearts. 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.'” The grace of God will change our inner live, which in turn will affect our outer behavior.
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 said “For the love of Christ compels us.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) 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.