God's grace

276 grace

God's grace is the undeserved favor that God is willing to bestow on all His creation. In the broadest sense, God's grace manifests itself in every act of divine self-revelation. By grace, man and the whole cosmos are redeemed from sin and death through Jesus Christ, and through grace, man obtains the power to know and love God and Jesus Christ in the joy of eternal salvation in the world Kingdom of God. (Colossians 1,20, 1, John 2,1-2, Romans 8,19-21, 3,24, 5,2.15-17.21, John 1,12, Ephesians 2,8-9, Titus 3,7)

Grace

"For if justice comes by the law, then Christ died in vain," Paul wrote in Galatian 2,21. The only alternative, he says in the same verse, is "the grace of God." We are saved by grace, not by keeping the law.

These are alternatives that can not be combined. We are not saved by grace plus works, but by mercy alone. Paul makes it clear that we have to choose one or the other. Choosing both is not an option (Rom 11,6). "For if the inheritance were acquired by the law, it would not be given by promise; But God gave it freely to Abraham by promise (Gal 3,18). Salvation does not depend on the law but on God's grace.

"For only if there were a law that could give life, would justice really come out of the law" (v. 21). If there had been any way to gain eternal life by keeping commandments, then God would have saved us by the law. But that was not possible. The law can not save anyone.

God wants us to have good manners. He wants us to love others and thereby fulfill the law. But he does not want us to think that our works are ever a reason for our salvation. His provision of grace implies that he has always known that we would never be "good enough" despite our best efforts. If our works contribute to salvation, then we would have something to boast about. But God has designed his plan of salvation so that we can not claim merit for our salvation (Eph 2,8-9). We can never claim to earn anything. We can never say that God owes us anything.

This touches the core of the Christian faith and makes Christianity unique. Other religions claim that people can be good enough if they try hard enough. Christianity says we just can not be good enough. We need grace.

On our own, we will never be good enough, so other religions will never be good enough. The only way to be saved is by God's grace. We can never deserve to live forever, so the only way we can get eternal life is by God giving us something we do not deserve. That's what Paul wants out when he uses the word grace. Salvation is a gift from God, something we could never earn - not even by keeping the commandments for millennia.

Jesus and grace

"For the law is given through Moses," writes John, and continues, "The grace and the truth has come through Jesus Christ" (John 1,17). John saw a contrast between law and grace, between what we do and what is given to us.

Yet Jesus did not use the word grace. But his whole life was an example of grace, and his parables illustrate grace. He sometimes used the word mercy to describe what God is giving us. "Blessed are the merciful," he said, "for they will receive mercy" (Mt 5,7). With this statement, he indicated that we all need mercy. And he mentioned that we should be like God in this regard. If we appreciate grace, we will also give mercy to other people.

Later, when Jesus was asked why he was dealing with notorious sinners, he said to the people, "But go and learn what that means: I have mercy on mercy and not sacrifice" (Mt 9,13, a quote from Hos 6,6 ). God is more concerned about showing mercy than being perfectionists in keeping the commandments.

We do not want people to sin. But since transgressions are inevitable, mercy is absolutely necessary. This applies to our relationships with each other and our relationship with God. God wants us to recognize our need for mercy, as well as to show mercy to other people. Jesus set an example of this when he ate with tax collectors and talked with sinners - by his behavior he showed that God wants to commune with us all. He has taken on all our sins and forgive us to have this fellowship.

Jesus told a parable of two debtors, one who owed a tremendous amount, and the other, who owed a much lesser amount. The master forgave the servant, who owed him much, but this servant failed to forgive the fellow servant, who owed him less. The Master was angry and said, "Should not you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, how I took pity on you?" (Mt 18,33).

The lesson of this parable: Each of us should see ourselves as the first servant to whom a huge sum has been forgiven. We all did not meet the requirements of the law by a long way, so God shows mercy to us - and he wants us to show mercy as well. Of course, both in the area of ​​mercy and in the law, our actions fall short of expectations, so we must continue to trust in God's mercy.

The parable of the Good Samaritan ends with a call for mercy (Lk 10,37). The publican who pleaded for mercy was the one who stood justified before God (Lk 18,13-14). The prodigal son, who had wasted his fortune and then came home, was accepted without doing anything to "earn" it (Lk 15,20). Neither the widow of Nain nor her son did anything to earn a resurrection; Jesus just did this out of compassion (Lk 7,11-15).

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

The miracles of Jesus served to quench temporary needs. The people who ate loaves of bread and fish became hungry again. The son who was raised eventually died. But the grace of Jesus Christ will be given to all of us through the highest act of divine grace: His sacrificial death on the cross. In this way, Jesus himself gave himself for us - with eternal, rather than merely temporary consequences.

As Peter said, "Rather, we believe to be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 15,11). The gospel is a message of God's grace (Acts 14,3, 20,24, 32). We are justified by grace "through the salvation that has been done through Jesus Christ" (Rom 3,24). God's grace is associated with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Jesus died for us, for our sins, and we are saved because of what he did on the cross (v. 25). We have salvation through his blood (Eph 1,7).

But God's grace goes further than forgiveness. Luke tells us that God's grace was with the disciples as they preached the gospel (Act 4,33). God favored them by giving them the help they did not deserve. But do not human fathers do the same? Not only do we give our children if they have done nothing to earn it, we also give them gifts that they could not earn. This is a part of love and that reflects the nature of God. Grace is generosity.

When the members of the congregation in Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey, they commanded them to the mercy of God (Acts 14,26, 15,40). In other words, they instructed them to care for God and trusted that God would provide for the travelers and that He would give them what they needed. That is part of his grace.

Spiritual gifts are also a work of grace. "We have different gifts," Paul writes, "after the grace given to us" (Roman 12,6). "To each one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph. 4,7). "And serve one another, each one with the gift he has received, as the good stewards of God's many graces" (1Pt 4,10).

Paul thanked God for the spiritual gifts he had bestowed on the faithful (1Kor 1,4-5). He was confident that God's grace among them would be abundant, and enabled them to even increase in every good work (2Kor 9,8).

Every good gift is a gift from God, a result of grace instead of something we deserve. Therefore we should be grateful for the simplest blessings, for the singing of the birds, the scent of the flowers and the laughter of children. Even life is a luxury in itself, not a necessity.

Paul's own ministry was given to him by grace (Rom 1,5, 15,15, 1Kor 3,10, Gal 2,9, Eph 3,7). Everything he did he wanted to do according to the grace of God (2Kor 1,12). His power and abilities were a gift of grace (2Kor 12,9). If God could save and use the worst of all sinners (as Paul himself described), he can certainly forgive and use each of us. Nothing can separate us from his love, from his desire to give us.

Our answer to grace

How should we respond to the grace of God? With grace, of course. We should be merciful, as God is full of mercy (Lk 6,36). We should forgive others just as we were forgiven. We are to serve others just as we were served. We should be kind to others by showing goodwill and kindness to them.

Our words should be full of grace (Kol 4,6). We should be kind and gracious, forgiving and giving in marriage, business, work, church, friends, family and strangers.

Paul also described financial generosity as a work of grace: "But we announce to you, dear brothers, the grace of God given in the churches of Macedonia. For their joy was exuberant when they were proved by much distress, and though they are very poor, they have abundantly given in all simplicity. Because, as far as I'm concerned, I testify, and even over their powers they have given willingly "(2Kor 8,1-3). They had received a lot and were ready to give much.

Giving is an act of grace (v. 6) and generosity - whether in terms of finances, time, respect or otherwise - and it is an appropriate way for us to respond to the grace of Jesus Christ, who is himself for to give us abundant blessings (V. 9).

by Joseph Tkach


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