What is grace? I’m sure many of you have learned some definition that is very similar to this: God’s undeserved merit or favor. Some say grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve and mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve. We live a life of grace. Even the lost experience some of God’s grace. While they are under God’s condemnation, they still experience good things from God–some call this common grace. But I want you to think of the greatest grace a believer receives. What is the greatest thing you received that you did not deserve? Isn’t it the gospel? Could there be any greater undeserved gift? I don’t think so! I’m making this point to help you understand a Bible term: grace. Most often, when you read of grace in the Scriptures, the Word is speaking to Christians–people who have already experienced the grace of the gospel. How are we to understand these passages? I will answer that in a future post, but first some foundational Scripture and further Bible teaching.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9
In this verse we see a clear correlation between grace and gospel. In fact, Paul indicates that the two terms could be interchageable here. Couldn’t he have said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the gospel of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another…”? He couldn’t have said “…into another grace” because any other gospel is not grace. But the true gospel of Christ is truly the grace of God.
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Galatians 2:7, 9
Here again, Paul makes a clear connection in terminology, saying that the gospel wasÂ committed to him and then that grace was givenÂ to him.Â Often, when we read of grace and believers,Â we would do well to remember thisÂ grace/gospel correlation.
With this explanation in mind, lets explore some other portions of Scripture.Â
So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written. The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:15-17
If the gospel is only for the lost, the first question you should ask yourselfÂ while reading this is, “Why would Paul want to preach the gospel to the saints in Rome?”Â It must be that there is more to the gospel than just salvation. Just as Jesus is more than aÂ Savior, the gospel is more than a fire escape plan. “The just shall live by faith.”Â
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 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. Romans 11:5-6
You might think thatÂ the Bible is overstating its case here. But theÂ point must be made that grace and works are so diametrically opposed, and mankind so naturally wants to prove his own merit by working, that even this “redundancy” can not be considered an overstatement. Really, we are so works oriented that we must have this type of reminder often.Â
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 1 Corinthians 15:1
Here again, though the Corinthians had received the gospel already, they were also standing in the gospel. The gospel/grace was something they needed currently.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon 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. 1 Corinthians 15:10
Paul says that he was what he was at that moment because of God’s grace. Grace/gospel was doing a continuing work in his life. He labored abundantly, but it wasn’t his labor, it was the grace of God.
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 2 Corinthians 1:12
Paul’s conversation in the world (not just his justification) was by the grace of God.
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4
The Galatians were believers (1:2; 3:1-3; 3:26-27; 4:6-7; 5:1) yet they stood in peril of not living by grace. Of not living according to the gospel. If they were to apply the principles of justification by the law to their life, they would have fallen from living by grace or the gospel.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:8, 11
Look at these phrases:
- all grace
- always having
- all sufficiency
- all things
- every good work
- every thing
- all bountifulness
Grace,Â or the gospel, should
affect change every single aspect of our lives. Nothing is outside the realm of the gospel. It changes is changing–everything!