Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.
It is correct to say that God’s grace is amazing, but what is equally amazing is how few people really understand what the Bible doctrine of grace is all about. Eph. 2:8 says, “by grace are ye saved through faith.” In other words our very salvation depends upon God’s grace.
So since members of God’s true Church have been called to salvation, we must not remain ignorant of this basic Bible doctrine of grace.
In a general sense, the word grace in the Bible merely means “favor,” and usually refers to God’s favor toward those who love and obey Him. But, especially in the New Testament it is used specially to refer to God’s greatest act of favor.
God’s calling of a sinner to repentance and the extension of God’s forgiveness, which leads to eternal life.
Now, there are numerous false concepts about grace in today’s modern Christianity. Some people have never bothered to distinguish the subject of grace in their minds from the related separate subject of faith, justification and sin. So when they think of grace they confuse it with one of these other subjects and miss the meaning of grace altogether.
Others believe that God will extend grace without repentance, or without obedience to the law which they view as done away.
All of these concepts are wrong. Now the word grace does show God’s love. But the meaning of grace, when examined is far different from the false concepts I just mentioned. As I said, in general the word grace simply means favor and can be used of favor shown by God or man.
“Esther found grace or favor in the sight of her husband King Ahasuerus” (Esther 2:17). Noah found favor (grace) in the eyes of God, who as a result saved him and his family from the Flood (Gen. 6:8).
But in the New Testament the word grace refers to a special act of favor by God – the act of forgiving the sin of those He has called, and giving us the promise of eternal life (Rom. 5:14-17).
In John 1:17 here we’re told that grace came through Jesus Christ. As Christians we know that through Jesus we receive forgiveness and reconciliation to God. And in Romans 5:21, Titus 2:11 and Titus 3:7 we are told that the end result of God’s grace is eternal life. And that is indeed a wonderful gift and unmerited and unearned act of favor from God to man.
Most modern Christians today agree that “we are justified by grace.” It is at precisely this juncture that the Bible parts company with the beliefs of men about grace.
Now the Bible does teach that we are justified by grace – Eph. 2:8, Rom. 3:24; 4:16 and Titus 3:7. But what does it mean to be justified by grace?
These verses I just quoted speaks of at least four different, but related areas, faith, justification, works and grace. But what happens, today, religious people are confused by these words and tend to lump them all together as one subject; so they come with the wrong statements: “The law is done away, or all you need is grace, or just believe that’s all.
So what does the term justification mean? It is the process and result of having our sins forgiven.”
Work means – “Things you do your self – like charitable acts, rituals or even, and in some cases, acts of obedience to the law.”
Faith means – “A belief in God (backed by action) and is the necessary ingredient God looks for before he forgives a sinner.
Grace means – “The favor that God shows when he grants forgiveness and eternal life.”
To be justified by grace through faith means to be forgiven by God, not because of our goodness, but because of God’s goodness if we believe Him. When God says we are justified by grace, He means we are justified because of unmerited and unearned favor God shows us and not because of anything we have done.
It was not our goodness that resulted in our calling, but God’s goodness, His kindness, love and favor – His grace and nothing more. We did not earn the calling. And we cannot earn forgiveness or eternal life. These are all gifts – examples of God’s unmerited favor, His grace.
The Bible plainly states that grace requires us to go on and obey the law. We are to follow righteousness and we all know that the Bible tells us what righteousness is (Ps. 119:172).
Few people – even professing Christians understand the biblical doctrine of grace in its full importance. When we members of God’s true Church understand the enormity of our sins and the enormity of God’s forgiveness because of His love we can truly praise Him for it. His grace is indeed amazing.