UNDERSTANDING THE GRACE OF

Part 1: WHAT IS GRACE?


As Christians, one of the most important things we need to fully understand is the grace of God. Grace is the most important concept in the Bible. The very center and core of the whole bible is the doctrine of the grace of God. Grace is most needed and best understood in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness. We live in a world of earning, deserving, and merit, and these result in judgment. That is why everyone wants and needs grace.


Judgment kills. Only grace makes alive. So, what is grace?



WHAT IS GRACE?


By the simplest definition grace is “unmerited favor” or “unconditional love.” While this is a fine definition on its own, the problem is that we still must define the definition.


First, let us start with “unmerited.” To merit something means to earn it or deserve it. A child might merit a special treat by good behavior or by doing chores. In some schools, students can earn “Merit Badges” by showing that they know how to do something or can explain it to others or by being the top student in class. These students cannot earn these badges unless they have completed the required activities or achieved marks, thus meriting the badge. So “unmerited” then means to receive something that you did not earn or something that you do not deserve or qualify for.


In the same way “unconditional” means that something is not limited by conditions, such as our good behavior. So, what is it that you receive that is unmerited? According to our basic definition of grace, you receive unmerited “favor.” Favor is something good being given to you or an act of kindness, like someone helping you. To be favored by someone means that someone likes you or helps you. The word “favorite” comes from the word “favored” and it means “the one you favor the most.” To favor someone means to like or help him or her. Grace then is getting something nice that you have not earned or deserve. When you receive grace, you are given something better than what you deserve.



THE TWO MAIN DEFINITION OF GRACE

There are two main definitions however, as to what the grace of God is all about.

1. Grace is like a two-sided coin. On the one side of the coin the grace of God is the “unmerited favor and unconditional love” of God as we have mentioned earlier. This is the grace that we are saved by with the Lord. As you will see in the next lessons. we are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ.


2. The second definition of the word grace, which will be the other side of this same coin, is that the grace of God is referring to the divine life, power, and ability of God flowing and operating through us. This second aspect of God’s grace is the kind of grace we will need to properly function and operate in whatever He is going to call us to do for Him in this life. This same kind of divine power is also needed in our sanctification in the Lord, along with being needed to help us overcome different types of sins and temptations.


HOW GRACE IS DEFINED BY SOME OF THE DIFFERENT BIBLE DICTIONARIES:


· Unmerited favor, mercy, compassion

· Undeserved blessing, a gift

· Gods loving mercy toward mankind

· Favor, graciousness, kindness, beauty, pleasantness

· The gift of God as expressed in His actions of extending mercy, loving-kindness, and salvation to people

· Unmerited divine assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification

· The power and equipment for ministry

· God’s disposition to exercise goodwill toward His creatures

· Synonymous with the gospel of God’s gift of unmerited salvation in Jesus Christ

· Favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and despite what that same person deserves

· Undeserved acceptance and love received from another, especially the characteristic attitude of God in providing salvation to sinners



WHAT ARE SOME WAYS PEOPLE HAVE DEFINED GRACE?


· “Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.” (B.B Warfield)

· “Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” (John Scott)

· “[Grace] is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.” (Jerry Bridges)

· “Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.” (Paul Zahl)


While everyone desperately needs it, grace is not about us. Grace is fundamentally a word about God: his un-coerced initiative and pervasive, extravagant demonstrations of care and favor. Michael Horton writes “In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself. Grace, then, is not a third thing or substance mediating between God and sinners but is Jesus Christ in redeeming action.”



MEANING OF GRACE FROM SCRIPTURES


The grace of God is the most beautiful and powerful thing we will ever encounter, but it is also the most difficult concept for us to wrap our minds around. Let us look at its definition from the scriptures. Grace pushes back against our understanding of what is fair and what people deserve. But the message of grace is one that the entire world needs to hear. Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold….


Grace is one-way love.


Grace is God reaching downward to a people who are constantly pushing back against Him, who are in rebellion against Him. Scripture tells us that all people sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and that we deserve death (Romans 6:23). But in His lovingkindness and mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us and take upon himself the punishment that we deserve.

Romans 4:24-25 says that righteousness “will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”


Paul writes in Romans 5:8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The grace of God did not come at a time when we had everything together, all our ducks lined up in a row. No, grace comes to us when we are broken and can offer nothing in return. “Grace is most needed and best understood in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness.” We come to God with nothing in our hands to offer but our brokenness and sin, and He gladly takes it and gives to us new life as His child.

The lover in the above definition of grace is God himself. God lavishes His people with goodness and grace through all of Scripture, including throughout the Old Testament. The story of Scripture is about what God has done for us, not what we have done or can do for God. He is both the author and the main character in this great story of redemption. Grace is the main theme that ties all of Scripture together. It is expressed in the promises of God throughout the Bible and is embodied perfectly in the person of Jesus Christ. The entirety of Scripture tells the story of God’s grace.

J. Gresham Machen wrote, “The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.” Every story echoes the promises of God.


When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus spent time with those people whom the rest of society had cast aside as too far gone to save. He sat at the same table with prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners, dining with them and teaching them parables. He did not reject them like the Pharisees wanted him to do (Luke 5:3) but rather came to them in truth and love. These people knew their brokenness and sin, unlike the religious of Jesus’s day who prided themselves on not being like the men and women that Jesus spent time with.

Luke 18:11 reads, “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”

There is no place that grace will not go, no person that it refuses to reach down towards. It is one-way love.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul writes, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Paul knows that any work that he did was ultimately not his own doing but through the grace of God.


SUMARY OF THE TWO SIDES OF GRACE

1. The unmerited favor, mercy, compassion, acceptance, kindness, graciousness, goodwill, and divine assistance of God.

2. The divine life, power, and ability of God flowing and operating through us to give us the supernatural power and ability for ministry and sanctification


In this series of UNDERSTANDING THE GRACE OF GOD, we will have 6 topics or lessons.

I believe that This is basic 101 information and knowledge that all Christians should have a firm and solid grasp on so that you cannot only have it for your own personal storehouse of knowledge in the Lord, but so you can also have it to be able to teach and educate other Christians who do not have a full understanding of this revelation from the Lord. Study these lessons very carefully and meditate on the revelation that God is trying to reveal to us.


I strongly believe that If you can fully grasp what the Lord is trying to show us in these teaching, you will then walk away with a full understanding of the basics of your own personal salvation in the Lord – along with having the knowledge on how to get God to release more of His grace into your life so that you can then learn how to live this life as a good and mighty soldier of Jesus Christ.


Shalom Shalom.




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