The grace of God is foundational in the case for God. Without the grace of God there would be little need to discuss salvation, hope, eternal life or any other spiritual aspiration since none would be available to us. It is only by the grace of God that we are offered any association with the Creator or access to any spiritual blessing, since sin has separated us from the God who formed us. Sin has rendered man spiritually lost and it is solely by the grace of God that He offers us the possibility of renewed fellowship.
The grace of God is an extension of His love to those He created. Because He loved us, He has extended His favor to us even though we in no way merit such a blessing. This then is the definition of grace — the unmerited favor of God, the good will, the loving kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and grants to sinners the pardon of their offences, and bids them to accept eternal salvation through Jesus the Christ (Thayer -Wilke-Vine). This Grace is inextricably connected with another of God’s blessings — His mercy. Like grace, mercy involves God’s good will joined with a desire to relieve those who suffer. Therefore, God’s unbounded mercy for those He loved moved Him to extend His grace to the creation (man) who through sin was alienated from Him.
The grace of God is without question a marvelous thing, a great and indispensable blessing. However it can be misunderstood, even perverted, to the extent that it becomes ineffective for that which God intended. The salvation of men (mankind) from sin and eternal death is not possible without the grace of God. This is an indisputable fact. However, God’s grace does not relieve man from his responsibility in the process of salvation. God, through His grace, offers it to all men but it is only when man responds through obedience to His commands that grace is received and salvation is granted. Some say it is by grace alone that man receives salvation and there is nothing for man to do or even can do in the process. However, the Holy Scriptures do not teach such.
The apostle Paul wrote in the Ephesian letter, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Paul here states what has already been established, that God’s grace makes salvation possible. He goes on to affirm that it is not the meritorious works of man that induces God to save him. We should note two important things here. First, Paul did not say that grace alone saves man. Secondly, he does not say that grace is unconditional. Man’s works — his good deeds — can never earn his salvation, Paul says. God’s grace is a gift, a product of His love for man. However, this gift, like numerous other gifts we read of in the scriptures, was only given when man met certain conditions. The Old Testament example of Naaman who was cleansed of leprosy illustrates this point very well. God gave Naaman the gift of healing but only after Naaman was willing to meet the conditions God set, which required him to dip himself seven times in the Jordan river (2 Kings 5:9-14). Naaman did not earn the healing it was the free gift of God, but he did have to meet the conditions set by Him. Had he not dipped he would not have received the gift.
God’s saving grace is received in exactly the same way. It is a free gift to those who meet the conditions under which it is offered. God has explained the free gift of His grace will be freely supplied to those who are obedient to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter made this abundantly clear on the first Pentecost after Jesus ascended to the Father.
When asked what they must do to be forgiven of the sin perpetrated against the Son of God Peter responded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
The free gift of the Spirit — salvation and all its attendant blessings — was there for all who would repent and be baptized for remission of their sins. They were required to meet the conditions in order to receive the free gift, but it was never earned.
As the song so aptly says; God’s grace is “Amazing!” Those who recognize just how amazing are more than willing to submit to the giver and accept it with all thanksgiving.
C.E. White is a native of Nacogdoches who graduated from NHS in 1965 and SFA in 1974. He is a Navy veteran and refers to himself as simply “a Bible student.” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.