by J. Randal Matheny, editor
Grace is free or it is no grace at all (see Romans 11:6). We can do nothing to deserve God’s grace. No act of ours can obligate the Lord to grant salvation. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b; see 3:24 NET).
To be saved, all must go through the grace of Jesus Christ, be they Jew or Gentile (Acts 15:11), husband or wife (1 Peter 3:7), for his death was an act of grace (Hebrews 2:9). In the New Testament sense, when applied to salvation, the term “grace” means unmerited favor or gift. Something given, not because the receiver (human being) deserves it, but because the giver (God) desires to share it. Grace says more about the source than the target. It describes the benevolence of the God who desires to give humanity the blessing of his presence. Grace draws us near to God (Hebrews 4:16).
Grace does not imperceptibly invade the soul nor fall from heaven without asking. Grace is transmitted by means of a message, the Good News (Acts 14:3; 20:24, 32), heard and understood by the hearers (Colossians 1:6). Grace must be accessed, and the door of entry is faith (Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:4-10) — faith that is more than mere consent or mental process, but “faith working through love (Galatians 5:6). Faith must be surrounded by love, service and perseverance in order to evoke the praise of Christ (Revelation 2:19). God gives grace only to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).
Grace is big enough to cover any sin (Romans 5:20-21), if one repents and abandons the sin (Romans 6:1ff), and sufficient for any and all weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). God gives greater grace than any demand or requirement of exclusive service to him (James 4:6).
One must continue in the grace of God (Acts 13:43), for it’s possible to fall from grace in separation from Christ (Galatians 5:4). That means one can lose God’s grace so as to lose eternal life. So grace then is received in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1; see 1 Corinthians 15:10), and is annulled (Galatians 2:21). It’s possible to exclude oneself from God’s grace (Hebrews 12:15).
That there exists “the true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12) suggests that some preach a false grace, like the libertinism that turns its back on the holy commandment of the Lord (2 Peter 2; Jude 4) and denies the necessity of obedience for salvation (Hebrews 5:9).
Grace gives wisdom to speak edifying truth (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 4:29). It equips the body of Christ for service (Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 3:10). Grace directs, motivates and empowers simple and sincere conduct (2 Corinthians 1:12). So grace not only saves but fully provides.
The goal of grace is to glorify “the name of our Lord Jesus,” and us in him, by fulfilling every good desire and every work of faith (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
The grace of God, which is the same as that of Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:12), is essential, then, for our salvation, for our communion with God, for our eternal hope.
That is why we sing the words of Haldor Lillenas:
Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!
by J. Randal Matheny, editor