When one reads the following passages of Scripture they soon see the problem with sin when it is manifested in their lives (Isaiah 59:1-2; 64:6; Romans 3:10, 23).  When we speak of sin, we are speaking of that which literally means, “to miss the mark” (1 John 3:4; 5:17). It has been said, “Though men differ greatly in the nature and extent of their sinfulness, there is absolutely no difference between the best and worst of men, in the fact that all have sinned.” It has also been said that, “The grace of God is meaningless to anyone who fails to see both the fact and the enormity of man’s sins.”

As a matter of fact, on our own, we stand condemned before God. We sometimes sing, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean.”  When it comes to the simple matter of justice, without Christ we deserve separation from God for all eternity.

Simply put, if we want to understand the grace of God, we must understand the penalty there would be without it. In this article we want to introduce ourselves to the grace of God.

THE GRACE OF GOD DEFINED – The background of the word “charis”, which is translated grace, has many aspects which help us to appreciate its significance.  In ancient Greek classical writings, it referred to “that which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight or causes favorable regard.”  It was also used in regard to speech as that which was edifying or uplifting.  For example, note Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:29.  Elsewhere the Greek word which is translated grace meant, “the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds,graciousness, loving kindness, good will generally” (Luke 2:52).It also had reference to the gratitude that one would feel for favors that he would receive.  We should note all of the definitions are in a favorable lightpresenting grace as being something wonderful, particularly to the recipient.

In a spiritual context in reference to the grace of God, grace refers to the “unmerited, undeserved favor of God.”  In Romans 6:23 the phrase “free gift” is from the Greek word “charisma” from which we get “charismatic” which literally means a “grace gift” or “unmerited gift.”  We may, also, note the words of the Apostle Paul in Titus 3:5.  It is important to recognize that the abundant grace and mercy bestowed upon us is because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

THE DECISION OF GOD – It is difficult to understand the depth of God’s love, grace, and mercy (Ephesians 3:17-19).  In the deep recesses of His love, the decision to send the Christ was before the “foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).  In the beauty of His love He determined to send His “only begotten Son” (John 3:16, 17).  We are also mindful of the grace of Deity, as seen in the decision of Christ to do what was necessary to redeem mankind (John 1:1, 2; John 17:5; Philippians 2:6, 7). The King James Version doesn’t really capture the importance of Paul’s statement in Philippians 2:7.  The statement: “but made himself of no reputation” is better translated  “He divested himself”, or as the Greek points out, He “emptied Himself.”  This better conveys the length that Jesus went to provide us with the opportunity to be saved by His grace.

THE GRACE OF GOD MANIFESTED – When God’s Son came into the world He was offered on the cross as the “propitiation” for our sins (1 John 2:1, 2).  This may not mean much to us until we understand that “propitiation” means “atonement, or expiation; which means to make amends, reparation, or compensation.”  The word refers to the idea of turning away wrath.

God’s justice demands that there be payment for sin; which Jesus paid for us. We noted at the onset of this article that our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1, 2); as a result we are at odds with God; we are in dispute.  Because of this, what is needed is reconciliation.  Reconciliation is “to reestablish a close relation.”  In study of the New Testament we take note of the fact that Jesus offered Himself as a substitution offering (2 Corinthians 5:21). In that same context of 2 Corinthians 5, Paul indicated that they had been given the “ministry of reconciliation,” which provided the knowledge necessary to receive the merits of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Christ, in His tremendous sacrifice, affords us redemption.  Thayer, in his Greek-English Lexicon, defines redemption as “A releasing affected by payment of a ransom.”  Without Christ we are “slaves of sin” (Romans 6:17), and as such we are “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14).  As Paul stated in his writings to Titus, Jesus “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14).

The key element in God’s grace that affords redemption, and brings reconciliation is the blood of Christ. Peter wrote man is “redeemed… with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18, 19). There are some things which can be redeemed with silver and gold, but only the blood of Christ can redeem man from sin. Paul conveyed this to the church at Ephesus when he told them that without Christ at one time they “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, 12, 13).

THE GRACE OF GOD EXTENDED AND ACCESSED – This is seen in the words of the Apostle Paul in Titus 2:11.  Even though Christ offered Himself as atonement for all men’s sins, it does not mean that everyone will be saved.  The idea of bringing salvation in the Greek stressed a possibility and not an actuality.  It has been said, “If the medicine stands on the shelf, in the bottle with the stopper in, the sick man will not be cured. That is not the fault of the medicine; it is a panacea, but no remedy can work where it is not applied. Thus the universality of the gift, the universal potency of the gift, is not the slightest degree affected by the fact that, where it is not taken, its benefits are not realized.”                                                        

It is true that God wants all men to be saved (2 Peter 3:9); but in the infinite wisdom of God, God’s creation was such that man was given a choice. We can illustrate it this way: Picture God with arms extended holding out a very precious gift; which is not a gift which you deserve, but is offered freely to you.  Even though it is offered freely, you in no way deserve it.  It is extended to you, but made available to you with conditions.  You have to choose whether or not you want the gift.  God makes it clear that the merits of His grace are available to those who obey His will (Matthew 7:21; Hebrews 5:8, 9).  Even though it is a gift which we do not merit, we cannot be saved unless we meet God’s conditions.  As such, God is extending His grace to us at this very moment: the choice is ours (Matthew 6:24).