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What is the grace of God?

What is the grace of God? What is the grace of God?
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: Psalm 45:2

Devotional text: Ephesians 2:8-9

Last week, I explored the scripture concerning the grace of God found in 2 Corinthians 12:9, when the Apostle Paul asked the Lord to take away his “thorn in the flesh.” The Lord’s response to him was that God’s grace was sufficient for him.

This week, I would like to stay with the idea of God’s grace, what it meant for the people of the Old Testament, its deeper meaning in the New Testament and how God’s grace remains with us today.

First, we need to understand the definition of grace from God as being God’s totally free and unmerited favor upon the human race, even as imperfect and sinful as we are. God shows his favor upon us, even though we do not deserve it; nor can we do anything to gain God’s favor to make us worthy of receiving it. God’s grace, like God’s mercy, is offered as a gift to all human beings.

As we go through the Old Testament scriptures, we read of God’s grace toward his people. God found favor upon both individuals as well as the whole race of Hebrews, saving them destruction and leading them to settle in a land he had chosen for them.

The many stories of the great leaders from Abraham and Moses, to David and Solomon, also include God’s saving grace from those kingdoms that led his people into foreign exile. We find God’s grace as being God’s nature, to love and care for and to guide and protect. God did so freely, out of his love for us.

One of the greatest Psalms that speaks of God’s grace is Psalm 45. Written by the sons of Korah (temple assistants) on the eve of the king’s wedding (believed to be King Solomon), this Psalm carries more than God’s grace to the one man, but is also a prophetic song about Jesus Christ and his bride (the church).

We find God’s grace to be on his lips and God’s blessings to last forever. Referring to the king as God, it goes on to tell us that this throne will last forever. The bride of this king, as seen as the church of Jesus Christ, is seen as the unification of the king and his people and are reminiscent of Revelation 19:6-8 and 21:2.

Even with all of God’s actions of grace found in the Old Testament, it is in the New Testament that we come to a deeper understanding. The grace of God found here is the grace that saves us through Jesus.

The Apostle Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”

According to the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press 1990, 1991), “grace is the sheer, self-giving love of God toward suffering and sinful humanity.”

The definition goes on to tell us that it is not dependent on how we act or what we do to try to receive it; it’s not something we can make God give us. God just gives grace freely. It is a gift to us out of his love.

In Hebrew, the root word for grace means to bend down to, and the English word is derived from two words: to bend down to and steadfast love, both representing the nature of God toward humanity.

Let’s return to the New Testament scripture. In John 1:14, we read, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth.”

Luke 2:40 continues with, “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

Jesus, the Savior, came into the world, born of flesh, bringing with him God’s grace. In the Book of Acts, we find the meaning of this grace:

• 4:33 — “with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace (God’s favor) was upon them all.”

• 11:23 (Barnabas meeting with the new church in Antioch) — “When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”

• 15:11 (a meeting concerning Gentile believers and if they should be circumcised) — “No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord that we are saved, just as they are!”

• 20:24 (Paul speaking to the church elders in Ephesus as he speaks of continuing his task for the Lord) — “that I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given to me, the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

What is God’s grace? How do we receive it? It is free. It is a gift from God. We receive God’s grace through believing in the good news of salvation through Jesus.

As Paul explained to the believers in Rome (Romans 3:23-24), “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace by the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.”

As we get into the examples of God’s grace given through salvation by Jesus, there are many more instances of what God’s grace means for us today. I’ve only given a summary of the nature of God, that is, his grace, and have shown the New Testament meaning of grace through belief in Jesus. I will continue next week, but for this week will leave you with this from Romans 5:1-2:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”