The grace of God is one of the most important subjects in all of Scripture.
At the same time it is probably one of the least understood.
All Christians by definition believe in grace. Many of us frequently quote
Paul’s well-known words in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have
been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of
God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” And John Newton’s
beloved hymn “Amazing Grace” is said to be the all-time favorite hymn
in the United States. Why then do I say the grace of God is one of the
least understood subjects in the Bible?
When we think of grace, we almost always think of being saved by grace.
That is why Ephesians 2:8-9 is so familiar to us. Even Christian literature
available on the subject of grace seems to deal almost exclusively with
salvation. But the Bible teaches we are not only saved by grace, but we
also live by grace every day of our lives. It is this important aspect of
grace that seems to be so little understood or practiced by Christians.
My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our
personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His
grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever “well” is in our opinion—then
we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations
are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by
grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own
Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try
harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we
define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and
our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to
the attitude of the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I
am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those
who help themselves.”
The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the
infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is a very
freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time
experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.
When we experience God’s grace, we should experience gratitude, and
out of gratitude we experience love. This fundamentally changes the
way we live our lives toward God and others. This is why Paul said, “grow
in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
Come with me on the journey of grace.