What Is Grace?

Ephesians 2: 4-10
“But God being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ {by grace you have been saved}, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

These verses in Ephesians encapsulate God’s grace in my mind and heart. In the dictionary, grace is defined as a number of things: unmerited favor, mercy, capacity to tolerate or forgive, generosity of spirit, Divine love and protection, sanctification, salvation through repentance and faith, excellence, beauty, dignity, and charm through God’s favor. God’s definitions reach deeper places, and stretch out farther than any of us ever could dream possible.

Firstly, and most importantly, God loved us first! He chose us when, according to Romans 5, we were dead in our trespasses and sins, while we were His enemies. The profundity of His love astounds me! He gave up all of His rights for the slim chance that even one of us would respond to that love. He emptied Himself of His power and position to be born a weak human in Bethlehem. He became our Servant so that we might learn the true nature of Love from Him. We did nothing, can do nothing, could never do anything to deserve that love. His favor forever remains totally unmerited, making it ever more real in our day-to-day lives. Every person that walks this earth is utterly dependent upon His favor, whether they realize it or not. He is the only reason the very atoms of the molecules of life hold together.

After one has come to Jesus through faith and repentance, the more difficult path of sanctification begins. Here is where grace becomes the intricate work He creates and then establishes within us. He extricates us from the mires of family curses and our pasts, pulling out the roots of sin and bitterness, removing the darkness attached to our souls in infinitesimal seeds sown by disobedience and rebellion. Yet He accomplishes these works in the most gentle ways possible, as a doctor would perform delicate surgery, with anesthesia if possible. He is the very essence of grace, giving us what has been called His DNA: Divine Natural Affection.

Divine protection is an integral part of grace. Having had some fairly intense struggles dealing with spiritual warfare that sometimes breached the gap into the physical realm, I am one of those people who can firmly attest to His defense. However, His security for us normally begins with the more subtle warnings and guidance of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. He speaks to our hearts continually; we simply need to learn how to quiet our hearts, our minds, our spirits to listen to what He is saying. What good father even on earth would not tell His children how to be safe? However, He goes further than that when we take the time to meditate on Him, because He then infuses us with His presence and power beyond our previous experiences. Christian author Leann Payne calls it “practicing His presence”.

Excellence is at once God’s gift and mandate to us. In James 1:17, it says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” He has nothing but good to give us. And He expects nothing less than our full commitment to the expression of those gifts and talents He has given us. Like the truths taught from the parable of the talents, He wants us to become what He created us to be, to shine like stars in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, and to do that in everything we put our hands to in this life.

Lastly, grace implies tolerance, accommodation, a generous and forgiving spirit. In Colossians 2, Paul admonishes believers to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. This dovetails with his encouragement to be at peace with all, inasmuch as it depends on you. Moreover, the world is watching to see how God’s children interact with others and make many decisions about God accordingly. We are ambassadors of His grace to the world.

All of us are still in the process of learning the depths of God’s grace to us. It becomes ever clearer as we become more sensitive to the reality of the true condition of our flesh apart from His grace. We will spend eternity learning to understand it and will still only have scratched the surface of His grace.

~ Denise

 

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2 thoughts on “What Is Grace?

  1. Denise,

    Awesome Blog! You always have such great insight. Definitely one of my favorite What is Grace blogs so far. I wouldn’t be surprized to hear some of this integrated into one of Nick’s Sermons someday.

    “…so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace…” The words you share from Ephesians remind me of a banner that was hanging in the Lutheran Church I grew up attending. It shows the word GRACE as an acronym for (G)od’s (R)iches (A)t (C)hrist’s (E)xpense. Every time I think of that banner, and what it stands for… “humbling” is an understatement.

    Great job….

    Thank You!

  2. WOW! It is bittersweet that I am just now reading this. Bitter because it is so great, I wish I would have read it sooner. Sweet because this is exactly what I needed to hear from God today. His timing is perfect!

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