The Glorious Gospel Of Grace
“And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.” - Romans 15:29
Defining The Grace Of God
The term, “the grace of God,” is often bantered about carelessly. However, I have found that many believers do not accurately understand its meaning, its purposes, or the grandiose overwhelming benefits that can be reaped when grace is properly understood and scripturally attained.
For most, the definition for grace is simply “unmerited favor.” While this is surely an accurate and precise definition, it falls woefully short of displaying grace’s true meaning. Brother Jimmy Swaggart has given us a definition for grace that opens up the many facets that accompany this marvelous word when he declares that “Grace is simply the goodness of God given to undeserving people.”
Webster takes us to a more definitive definition when, in his dictionary, he defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance in one’s regeneration and sanctification.”
The apostle Paul ties one aspect of God’s grace to the individual receiving specific aid from the Holy Spirit pertaining to one’s growth or ministry when he describes God’s grace as the “effectual working” of the Holy Spirit. If one will simply combine all of these definitions together, we would start to receive a clearer picture of what God’s grace truly is, and what it can do.
Saved By Grace
I use the term “umbrella grace” to describe the attitude of God on display toward the world in which we live and all that it contains. The world exists today, not because the world or the people in it deserve the long-suffering, mercy, or goodness of God, but just because God allows these entities to exist. Much if not all of the world and that which is in it stands opposed to the things of God. So God in His mercy is displaying His grace toward a world that doesn’t even recognize it.
When an individual in the world is brought to the revelation that he or she is a sinner, separated from God by sin, and stands in need of a Savior, it is then that the believing sinner experiences the saving grace of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 declares the way that God has chosen to save every man from eternal separation from Himself. Here the apostle Paul declares, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
This verse not only faithfully declares the only means by which a person might be saved, but it also reveals the only way that God works with humanity. He never supplies His grace to those who labor for it. For then His grace could no longer be declared as grace but rather, would be seen as a payment for a labor or effort made by the one being saved. A man could earn salvation if this were true.
But God clearly declares that salvation is by means of faith that provides for the reception of God’s grace. That faith must be specifically placed in Christ alone, acknowledging that His death on Calvary paid the full price for the grace that the believing sinner will hereafter receive. God never gives anything to a man because he has earned it. This would indicate that God has somehow become beholden to man. It is our sin that stands between us and God. Only what God has provided through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary can remove the penalty of sin.
Changed By Grace
Grace is not just for salvation. Grace must be understood relative to our transformation. Sanctification is both instantaneous and progressive. The moment the believing sinner accepts Christ as His Saviour, he is set apart for God. He is holy and righteous in God’s sight. He is no longer his own; he has been bought with a price—the price of Christ’s life—which He offered for us on Calvary.
In this sense, a believer is instantly sanctified. However, even though we are new creations in Christ Jesus, there still remains many “clinging vines” of the fall to be dealt with. Some are learned attitudes and actions, all of which stem from a heart that still needs to be changed, renewed, or both. This process of renewal is one of progressive sanctification, which will be part of a believer’s life until his death or the return of Christ for His church.
Once again, the body of Christ fails to understand that grace and faith are the only biblical routes by which a man, woman, boy, or girl can be successfully changed into the image of Christ. Righteousness is not just imputed to the believer, as marvelous as that truth is, but his or her life should display attitudes and actions of righteousness, which can only be done as God’s grace supplies the power to do so. Once again, faith precedes God’s grace. As the believer continually and exclusively looks to Christ as the singular means by which grace to be conformed to the image of Christ might be received, God the Holy Spirit accomplishes a task that man can never perform on his own.
Paul would say in Colossians 2:6, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” This verse plainly declares that the way a person is originally saved is also the way by which a believer should face every day. The way of faith and grace is not only the way that a person is originally saved, but it is also the only means or way by which a Christian might be conformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of his Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Time and space does not allow me to complete this article on God’s grace. Next month, we will look at two other areas of God’s grace connected to the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. The first is the baptism with the Holy Spirit. We teach and believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a second subsequent work of the Spirit that is available to every born-again believer, and that its primary purpose is to provide supernatural power for ministry. The Spirit-filled experience is another aspect in which God’s grace enables the believer, and we’ll discuss the need for this grace in the believer’s ministry. Until then, “Grace be to you!”