April 22, 2013

Saved by Grace

As a noun, grace has many meanings; one dictionary offers five. Grace can be elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action. It can be a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment; favor or goodwill, a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior; or mercy; clemency and pardon.

My Bible uses this word or forms of it about 120-130 times only, yet it is a very important word. It is the foundation of salvation from sin. Without grace, no one would or could enter into a personal relationship with God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God... (Ephesians 2:8)

The biblical definitions of grace come out of the context of how this word is used. The most common are “the free, unmerited favor of God” and “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” An old commentary also offered, “Grace is God revealing Christ in such a way that He changes your life.”

I like all of them. Behind them is the truth that in salvation God takes the initiative. Those who come to Him come because He draws them. The faith that enables Christians to lay hold of Him is also a gift from God. Each step we take in our spiritual lives is made possible by grace. A life of holiness and becoming more like Jesus Christ is because of grace. Even the fact that I draw another breath is due to the grace of God. In Him I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).

Pride rejects free and generous offerings. “I will do it myself” is at the root of sin and this root resists allowing anyone to give us something we have not earned. For some, they will not accept a gift nor even borrow a lawn mower because their pride prevents them from being dependent on anything or anyone else. Pride shoves God away or pride insists that “I am good enough the way I am.”

Pride is also blind to the depths of sin, even to the fact that pride itself is sin. It also is blind to the impossibility of paying our debt to God just as it is impossible to borrow blessings from Him. The only thing I can say to God is that I am hopelessly sightless when it comes to my own need. Anyone who says otherwise actually proves it by making such a declaration.

Grace is God’s free, unmerited favor, undeserved and unearned. God loves me with a love I cannot earn any more than I could earn the love of my mother. He meets me with grace, coming to me and cancelling my debt. He freely imputes the righteousness of Christ to proud sinners such as I am. As I walk with Jesus, He also graciously continues to love and accept me, imparting what I need to obey and giving me the Holy Spirit to sanctify me that I can be holy.

This is the Gospel, the good news that I needed to hear forty years ago to save me, and forty seconds ago to keep my heart focused on the One who gave Himself for me. By grace I have been saved, not by my own doing but because God’s grace amazingly determined to grant me this astonishing gift through Jesus Christ.

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