The Gift of Grace

Grace, God’s grace, can be described through how God gives sinful men things they do not deserve (Psalm 103:10, Ephesians 2:8-9). It is the unmerited favor that God gives to us in the many aspects of life. It can also refer to the God-given ability to overcome, withstand and remain true and faithful in all God has called us to be and do. We commonly refer to it as the gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) because we receive it out of God’s willingness and kindness (Ephesians 2:4-7). In this article, we will seek to understand God’s gift of grace to us. 

Common Grace 

First, it is essential to note that as we walk around, talk, work, plant, harvest, and earn a living, we can do all these things by God’s grace. This is what we call common grace. 

John Frame says of common grace: 

Unbelievers are able to do things that look good to us. They do not look good to God, for God knows the heart. But they look good to us, and they often bring benefits to society. So non-Christians often improve society through their skills and ideas. They make scientific discoveries, produce labor-saving inventions, develop businesses that supply jobs, and produce works of art and entertainment.” 

Louis Berkhof describes it as follows: 

In concise terms, common grace may be defined as “the unmerited favor of God toward all men displayed in His general care for them” (Ryrie). An expanded definition of common grace is “(a) those general operations of the Holy Spirit whereby He, without renewing the heart, exercises such a moral influence on man through His general or special revelation, that sin is restrained, order is maintained in social life, and civil righteousness is promoted; or, (b) those general blessings, such as rain and sunshine, food and drink, clothing and shelter, which God imparts to all men indiscriminately where and in what measure it seems good to Him.”

In short, common grace includes every undeserved providential act of God’s restraint, goodness, and mercy toward the sinful inhabitants of this fallen world. The general principles of common grace are evident throughout Scripture (Psalms 145:9; Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11; Romans 2:4; Acts 14:16–17; 1 Timothy 4:10, Matthew 5:44-45, Luke 6:35-36). 

Saving Grace 

God has also expressed his gift of grace in that fallen man can now come to the knowledge of God (Philippians 3:10, Jeremiah 9:23-24) and be in a relationship with him (John 17:3) forever (a relationship that was once lost because of the sin in Genesis 3:1-24). That many men and women are being forgiven for their worst sins is evidence that they have received what they do not deserve (Ephesians 1:7). The Psalmist wrote that the person God does not deal with per their sinful actions is blessed (Psalm 32:1).

All through Scripture, we see this aspect of grace expressed. Take Noah (Genesis 6:8), for instance. During the raging floods of God’s wrath, he did not die. Instead, Scripture records that he found favor (grace) in the eyes of the LORD. Rahab, the prostitute (Joshua 2), found favor, escaped the destruction of Jericho by the Israelite armies, and made it onto the genealogy of Christ. Mary Magdalene, the prostitute of the city (Matthew 26:6-13), met Christ, and she ceased being the prostitute of the city and became a believer. The apostle Paul was on his murderous spree when he met the messiah on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). There is no other reason why one who partook in the murder of God’s people would be allowed to be a saint if not for God’s grace. The masses during Pentecost (Acts 1-3), and many more, who are being transformed, all prove that grace is a gift.

Christ, the Gift of Grace 

The musical worship group, CityAlight, penned down these beautiful words: 

What gift of grace is Jesus, my redeemer

There is no more for heaven now to give.

How does God achieve this expression of common grace and saving grace to underserving men and women? What is the means of grace that God has used to convey this miraculous, scandalous act? God has used His Son, Jesus Christ; he is the gift of grace. The apostle John cites that in Christ, there were grace and truth (John 1:14, 17). From him, we thus received grace upon grace (John 1:16). We conclude then that Christ is the one through whom God grants sinful men an opportunity to see another day for the sake of their repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and saints the power to live a righteous life till he calls us home (Titus 2:11-12). He is God’s gift of grace to all men because:

  • He is the one who was sent from above to die a life-giving death so that those who believe in him can have eternal life (John 3:16, Galatians 4:4-5, Ephesians 2:8-9). 
  • He is the one who has taken away our condemnation and put it on himself so that we can have/know imputed righteousness (Romans 8:1, 2 Cor. 5:21, Philippians 3:8-9). 
  • He is the one who brought forth the good news of salvation, the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). Without Christ, there would be no gospel or good news
  • He is the one who gives us the strength to walk in a manner worthy of the Kingdom of heaven by the Holy Spirit at work within us, whom he promised to us (Titus 2:12, Romans 6:14). 
  • He is the one who qualifies us before the Father (Romans 3:23-24) by presenting us holy and blameless before him (Acts 20:32). No man can do this for us. 
  • He is the one who causes us to remain steadfast, even enduring tough times (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

In many other portions, Scripture presents Christ as God’s perfect gift of grace, God’s underserving favor to all who believe. There would be no sharing in the grace of God minus the person and work of Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 3:21-26). We all have the privilege and opportunity to know this Christ as savior and King of our hearts (Revelation 19:13-16). He is the one through whom we get to know the depths of divine glory and the joys of the highest heavens. We are not good enough to know these things, and we will never be, which is why he is a gift to us. And together with Paul, may we all say, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Reference 

The Doctrine of the Christian Life- John Frame

Louis Berkhof- Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth (pg. 436)

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