What exactly is grace?
Let’s look first at what grace is not. Grace is not the prayer before dinner. It’s not any kind of prayer. It isn’t a description of a long life of doing nice things. Nor is it the 10% off coupon at the grocery store, or even the older brother promising that he won’t pick on the younger brother any more for the rest of the day.
Grace has to do with God. It’s God looking down on us human beings and saying that all our attempts at trying to do “religious” things is a bunch of garbage. We couldn’t find enough good things to do to cause God to give us a second look. God’s Word in Isaiah 64:6 says,
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;..”
Grace is God saying that none of us have lived up to God’s perfect standard. We fall short of being worthy to receive His praise. We are on a “dead end road” with a bright sign glaring at us up ahead shouting, H-E-L-L. It’s not just those bad guys on TV that deserve it. One wrong thought or emotionally spoken bad word is enough for God to turn His back on us forever. (see Romans 3:23 and 6:23 about sin)
It’s sin that God hates—big sin, little sin, and teeny tiny sin that the other person doesn’t even see. God hates sin so much that He doesn’t even like to think about it.
But… He looks down on us in our worthless state and says, “I will pay the penalty that my poor people deserve to pay themselves. I will come to earth in the form of the savior that these people desperately need. I will come as Jesus—the Savior—and pay the penalty of death for all their sin.”
But that death on the cross 2,000 years ago was not quite enough. There was one little ingredient still missing. Without this one word, the world would have just continued to spiral further and further downhill until the end was reached with that blinding sign and the hungry fire luring the hopeless sinner into an agonizing eternity.
In God’s looking down at His people, all He could see was a people engulfed in helplessness on an overpowering landslide ending in an eternal darkness without Him. He saw people looking no further than themselves. It was a world full of nearsighted people that failed to see beyond what their eyes could see.
So it was God who needed to make that first move—a move of grace, an undeserved act of love—toward a people created in His image. God, in His grace, placed faith in Himself into the hearts of those who were to become part of His eternal family. (see Ephesians 2:8,9) This gift of faith in Him would enable the new believers to become witnesses of the greatness of God’s love toward a dark and sin-filled world.
Now the world is speckled with people who have received God’s precious gift of eternal life through their faith placed in the death of Jesus on that cross. (see John 1:12) God’s plan for these thousands of people, even millions, is to help spread the Good News of salvation from sin by faith in Jesus and His payment for sin on that wooden cross.
Grace in a very needy life: God speaks to Tom’s heart as he finishes his breakfast one morning, and says, “Go talk with your friend Steve and share with Him about my plan of salvation.” Then Tom thinks to himself, “I haven’t seen Steve in a while. I’ll give him a call and see about us getting together. Maybe I will be able to share some of my faith with him.”
After a really fun lunch with Steve, the following week, of remembering the good old days, Tom shares what God has done in his life. Steve listens intently while tears begin flowing from his eyes.
“Tom,.. I think… I think that’s what I need—this salvation in Jesus. My wife and I are having really big problems that I can’t see a way out of. Maybe Jesus in my life is the answer I need.”
After a time of prayer, Steve wipes the tears from his now smiling face. Tom reaches over and gives Steve’s hand a squeeze. “Steve, I’ll be praying for you every day. You can come to church with me and I’ll help you share your salvation story with a group of people who will also be praying for you.”
In just over a year that passes, Steve’s wife, Betty, asks Jesus to forgive her sin too, and the two now are beginning to experience the peace and direction God wants for them.
During an evening of relaxing in front of the TV watching the end of a favorite western, Steve has a tear begin a trip down his cheek. “How could God love me so much with all the garbage in my past?” But then, with the wipe of his hand, “It must be what Tom says is getting what I really don’t deserve—God’s grace.”
God’s inaudible voice that says, “You need my forgiveness,” or “your friend at work needs my forgiveness,” is God’s grace reaching into your heart and moving you to take the action that will fulfill His work down on earth. And sometimes, because it is the nature of His grace, you may hear His voice a second time, or maybe even more.
GOOD NEWS FROM GOD
1 – THE TRUTH – God Is Love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son,..” John 3:16
2 – YOUR CONDITION – Everyone Has Sinned—large or small—against God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23
3 – YOUR PROBLEM – Sin Separates sinful people from a holy God. “…your iniquities [sins] have separated you from your God;..” Isaiah 59:2
4 –GOD’S SOLUTION – Only forgiveness from sin brings eternity with God.
“…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
5 – YOUR CHOICE – Only Jesus provides freedom from the sin in your life. “Jesus answered, ‘…No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
Do you believe…
— that God loves you,
— that you are a sinner, — that sin separates you from God,
— that Jesus has taken the punishment that you deserve in His death on the cross.
Then you can pray a prayer like this and ask Jesus to be your Savior from sin.
Lord Jesus, Thank you for loving me. I admit that I am a sinner and that sin
must be punished. Thank you for dying on the cross for me and taking the punishment that I deserve. Please come into my life, forgive my sin, and be my Savior.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—“ Ephesians 2:8
• • NOW • •
√ Ask God to help you find a Bible teaching church.
√ Pray every day.
√ Read the Bible every day (start with the Gospel of John).
√ Tell people about your decision to ask Jesus to be your Savior.