The popular definition for the grace of God goes something like this: “God’s riches at Christ’s expense,” or “the unmerited favor of God.” Marvelous thoughts; however, the actual meaning of the word ‘grace’ is even more exciting.
My reading today is in John 1, a favorite passage from a favorite book. It is about God’s Word, Jesus Christ, becoming flesh and living among us. Verse 17 says, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
God revealed to Moses how His people should live through His Law. By these commandments, we realize the holy demands of a holy God and find that God wants a standard of heart and life that is completely beyond our normal. In fact, His Law is so far beyond what we are and how we live that any honest person who tries to obey His commands must soon admit that they cannot.
The truth of the matter is that for anyone to keep God’s Law, we need a big change in how we think and act, because pleasing ourselves is our main motivation, not pleasing God. This where grace comes in.
Grace, fully defined, is “a revelation from God that changes us.” This grace begins with the appearing of Himself in human flesh, an appearing that is so radical and startling that anyone who really sees Jesus Christ for who He is can never be the same. Jesus Himself changes us by grace and grace is the ingredient that makes it possible to please God. This awesome Lawgiver on the throne stepped into time and space and became the perfect Law-keeper. When He revealed Himself to me, He moved into my life and changed it, becoming the Law-keeper in my heart.
The truth is, no person can do what Jesus does. No person is capable of being sinless or perfect. We need a new nature, a new ‘normal’ to live by, and Jesus Christ is that, by grace.
He says, “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.”
Even thought the Bible says no one can, if I could keep the Law, I would boast. That would put me above the judgments and pronouncements of God. What a vain thought, one that smacks of the rebellion of the angel who became Satan.
Instead of such vanity, God gave me one incredible revealing of Jesus. In Him I saw the only One who can do it. In Him, I saw, and keep seeing, the impossible and awful truth about myself, and also the answer to that awful and impossible. He is my salvation, my deliverance from the wrath of God, my hope to live as I ought.
And He does it by grace—a revelation that changes me, a revelation that motivates a deep and daily hunger to see more of Him.