What Is Grace?
Paul tells us repeatedly that we are saved and justified, called and sanctified, preserved and glorified by the grace of God, without our works; but what is grace? Almost all professing christians say they believe that salvation is by grace. The Word of God lays such heavy emphasis upon the fact that salvation is by grace that it is very difficult for anyone to claim to believe the Bible and yet openly deny that salvation is by grace. Papists, pentecostals, and fundamentalists, all claim to believe in salvation by grace. But most people think and speak about grace in such a way that they frustrate the grace of God.
That is the reason Paul declared, "I
do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then
Christ is dead in vain!" The grace that most people talk about is not
grace at all. It is so mixed with human merit and human works that it is
"no more grace" (
Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Grace is free! Grace is unconditional! Anything earned, merited, or deserved by you is not grace. The man who thinks he deserves God's salvation does not believe in grace. The person who imagines that his acceptance with God depends upon his will, his works, or his worth, does not believe in grace, as the Bible speaks of grace. He has fallen from grace (Gal. 5:2, 4). Such people may talk about grace, but grace does not mean to them what it does to poor, helpless, guilty, bankrupt, self-condemned sinners, whose only hope is Christ.
No one will ever honor and extol the grace of God until he has experienced it. It was only after he had experienced it that Paul declared, "By the grace of God I am what I am." Before that, though he was religious, he was a blasphemer who hoped for salvation by something he did. Paul took no credit for his conversion. He ascribed the whole of his salvation to God's free grace alone. He knew he did not make himself to differ from others. A great change had taken place in his heart. His opinions, affections, ambitions, desires, hopes, and motives had been radically changed; and he attributed the change to the grace of God alone.