Life after the fall left us with painful toil to produce good fruit from the earth. However, the need to work hard to have dominion over God’s creation is not the example of salvation found in the Scriptures; working and laboring to earn God’s favor and salvation.
Being saved according to the Bible is actually more likened to being born- taking no credit for one’s conception or birth (John 1:12-13,3:3-16). Paul understand this spiritual concept of grace in salvation and taught it with great passion. Let us learn from Paul and better understand the grace of God.
Ephesians 1:1-2, “1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“GRACE” IN PAUL’S WRITINGS
- GRACE DEFINED: Grace, “charis” in Greek, means; “God’s unmerited favor and kindness displayed in saving and empowering the believer to live for Jesus and experience the fullness of His blessings in Christ.” G.R.A.C.E, “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
- PAUL’S USAGE OF GRACE: He used the term, “charis” 100x in his thirteen letters and 12x in Ephesians.
WORK BASED SALVATION IN OTHER RELIGIONS
- MORMONISM: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23).
- ROMAN CATHOLICISM: “If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Canon XII).
- ISLAM: “To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward” (The Quran, Surah 5:9).
- HINDUISM: “The Gods can help us, but it is we who put in the hard work and the effort. The reward is entirely up to us” (Hindu blogger).
GRACE IN EPHESIANS
- Ephesians 1:2, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Ephesians 1:5-7, “5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
- Ephesians 2:5-9, “5 Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 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. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
- Ephesians 3:2, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you.”
- Ephesians 3:7-8, “7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.”
- Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
- Ephesians 4:29 (ESV), “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
- Ephesians 6:24, “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
PAUL’S EXAMPLE OF BEING EMPOWERED BY GRACE
2 Corinthians 12:1-10, “1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
FIVE PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF GRACE
- HUMILITY: God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud, so be humble (1 Peter 5:5).
- HOLINESS: God’s grace gives us power not to sin, not permission to keep sinning, so live holy by God’s grace (Romans 6:1-2).
- IDENTITY: Grace to do good works always comes from first believing you are God’s good work of grace, so believe you are who God made you to be (1 Corinthians 15:10).
- BLESSED: God gives all of His blessings by grace through faith, therefore, keep your faith in Jesus (Romans 12:6).
- FORGIVENESS: Grace flows through our forgiveness when people sin against us, so don’t be bitter (Hebrews 12:15).
God’s grace has given the world everything that is good and has spared us from all that is evil; yet grace is not just a characteristic of God, but the very person of God the Son, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11).