Grace is truly amazing. It shines out as the very blessing of God that demonstrates his love and compassion for people. Without grace, no one would be saved from their sins. If we receive what we deserve we would all be lost since the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life (Romans 6:23). Put beside that the fact that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and you see how vital it is for us to have grace from God. It is also extremely important for us to understand what grace really is and what it does for us.
Probably no Scripture gives a clearer picture of grace than Ephesians 2 that begins with the point that we were all once dead in our trespasses and sin. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9).
While grace can be defined as Unearned or unmerited favor, a gift, a thing of beauty, poise or kindness, it has more shades of meaning than any definition can cover. It is God dealing with us according to our needs rather than what we deserve. Grace isn’t just something that God has toward us but something we are to learn to practice toward others. The Book of 2 Peter ends with the challenge for us to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have no means by which we can earn or deserve our salvation. I remember hearing a man pray some years ago, “Lord, if we merit, may we inherit the glory of heaven.” It sounds good in that it rimes, but it is totally wrong. If we get what we merit we will be lost forever. But God’s grace that brings salvation has appeared to all people (Titus 2:11).
Grace not only gives us initial salvation but it is constantly available in our lives for God so that we can remain in his favor all the time. But, notice this reality. As wonderful as God’s grace is, it is not a license to go on living the same sinful life I’ve lived before being saved. Too often in reading Ephesians the second chapter we stop reading too soon. Verses 8-9 are powerful in pointing out that we are saved by grace through faith. But the rest of the chapter gives great insight into what is involved in living by grace. In verse ten, he said, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Good works won’t save us. But if we are saved we will practice good works. God formed and made us as his children for us to do good works for him. He even prepared these good works in advance for us to do.
In the second half of Ephesians two, he showed that grace that brings salvation also tears down walls between people. God is our peace who took the two groups, Jews and Gentiles and tore down the wall between them so that in Christ they could become one. He took away the law and its commandments to give a New Covenant that invites all people, everywhere to come to him for a new life. He reconciled us to each other and to him in one body by the cross, putting to death the hostility that had been there between them he came and preached peace to you who were afar off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access to the Father in one Spirit.
If I claim grace for salvation but refuse the grace to reconcile me to people who are different from me then I am missing the point of where grace was meant to lead. You can’t reject people because of their race, color or background while still clinging to the grace of God for salvation. Grace is intended to flow from God to us and to flow through us to others around us. To simply cry out for grace for me individually and not offer it to others misses the point entirely. It is certainly out of this heart of grace that God calls on us as his people to have a ministry of reconciliation, preaching his message of reconciliation, while we are reconciled to God ourselves and plead with others to be reconciled to God today, since Christ who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
Praise God for his amazing grace. Thank God he has shared grace with us so we can share it with others all of our lives and become family with people of all backgrounds in the body of Jesus.