Theme: Great Bible Themes – Grace
Grace is favor. It is acceptance. It is goodness on display and demonstrated.
Grace is what God has given to man.
But there is more to it. What is so “amazing” about God’s grace (with a tip of the hat to the most famous hymn ever written) is that this is not what man should have received from God. There are two sides of this fact. First, God’s grace is not shown because humanity in any way is deserving of such treatment. He’s not showing us grace because it’s what He should show us. That is why grace is sometimes called “unmerited favor.” It is the “gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). God isn’t good to us because it’s His obligation to do so. He gives us what we don’t deserve.
Second, God is gracious to us when what we actually deserve is condemnation. This isn’t because we have been so bad, but rather because God is so holy. God’s holiness demands—not suggests or tends toward, but demands—that He cannot, in any way, associate with sin (Hab. 1:13; Psa. 5:4). We, on the other hand, all sin and fall short of His glory (Rom. 3:23). Our sin demands His condemnation. Instead of condemning He offers salvation, redemption, justification. He is gracious. That is, He doesn’t give us what we do deserve.
Through Jesus’ blood—the sacrifice given, the debt paid (Scripture uses several pictures for this)—God offers us salvation. That blood serves to satisfy the penalty for our sin making possible God’s acceptance and receiving of us. So, salvation is said to be by grace (Eph. 2:8).
This abbreviated format cannot begin to do justice to all that could and should be said about God’s great grace. We will be reading texts that convey the very ideas expressed above. We will also see how the term “grace” is used in a variety of other ways as well, all deriving their meaning from this fundamental truth.
Readings and Introductory Comments:
Romans 3:21-26; 5:1-17; Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
The fact that we are able to be saved by Holy God is ample evidence of grace. That God should ever show goodness and kindness requires grace. Several great texts proclaim the greatness of God’s grace.
John 1:14-18; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Timothy 1:8-11; 1 Peter 1:6-11
Jesus is the personification of grace. Without His sacrifice no forgiveness is even possible. So, grace is by and in and through Jesus.
Romans 12:3-8; 15:15; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Galatians 1:15-17; 2:7-10; Ephesians 3:1-13
Since our salvation is only through God’s grace and in Jesus that grace is demonstrated, it is most natural that the preaching of this message, the gospel, is referred to as grace as well. The phrase “the gospel of the grace of God” is quite natural (Acts 20:24). Very often Paul refers to “the grace given to me” (Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 1:4; 3:10; Eph. 3:2, 7, 8; etc.). It is difficult to distinguish at times—and probably not necessary—whether he’s speaking of his salvation or the privilege of preaching the gospel. As an extension of that then, the gifts given by God to His children as members of Christ’s body are referred to as grace as well (Rom. 12:3-8).
2 Corinthians 6:1-2; Galatians 1:6; 2:21; 5:4; Hebrews 10:29; 12:15; Jude 4
One word used in Scripture for sin means to bend or twist, therefore to pervert. It is typically translated as “iniquity” (Psa. 32:2; 51:2). So God’s good grace can be twisted or perverted. The good that is intended for those whom God loves can be thwarted, rejected, and lost. So, as would be expected, these possibilities, and warnings against such, are not uncommon.
2 Corinthians 9:8, 13-15; Colossians 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:1; Hebrews 13:9; 2 Peter 3:18
Since our God is gracious, so ought we to be gracious as well. Grace is to be a part of the Christian’s live and demonstrated in Christian living.
Rom. 1:7; 16:20
Something important, but easily missed, happens in the many of the New Testament books, especially the epistles; the greeting expresses grace to the recipients which is repeated in the conclusion. We offer only one example for our reading, but notice how this is also true in the following books: 1 Cor. 1:3; 16:23; 2 Cor. 1:2; 13:14; Gal. 1:3; 6:18; Eph. 1:2; 4:18; Php. 1:2; 4:23; Col. 1:2; 4:18; 1 Thess. 1:1; 5:28; 2 Thess. 1:2; 3:18; 1 Tim. 1:2; 6:21; 2 Tim. 1:2; 4:22; Titus 1:4; 3:13; Phm. 3, 25; 1 Pet. 1:2; 5:12; 2 Pet. 1:2; 3:18; Rev. 1:4; 22:21. Grace is the bookends for the messages to Christians and the church.
- By what are we justified? Through whom is redemption found? And by what is it received? (vv. 24-25)
- What does this demonstrate or show? (v. 25)
- By what do we gain access into grace? (v. 2)
- By whom has the gift of grace abounded to many? (v. 15)
- By what and through what have we been saved? (v. 8)
- By what and through what have we not been saved? (v. 9)
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
- To whom has God’s grace appeared? (2:11)
- By what are we justified? (3:7)
- By what are we not saved? (3:5)
- Of what is the Word full? (v. 14)
- What have we received from His fullness? (v. 16)
2 Corinthians 8:9
- What are we able to become because of Jesus’ grace? (v. 9)
2 Timothy 1:8-11
- We are saved because of what? (v. 9)
- We are not saved because of what? (v. 9)
1 Peter 1:6-11
- What about God’s grace were the prophets curious? (v. 11)
Romans 12:3-8; 15:15
- Gifts differ according to what? (12:6)
- What was Paul as a result of God’s grace? (15:15)
- What was Paul made according to the gift of God’s grace? (v. 7
2 Corinthians 6:1-2
- In what wrong way might one receive God’s grace? (v. 1)
Galatians 1:6; 2:21; 5:4
- What would nullify God’s grace? (2:21)
- What has one done who seeks justification by the law? (5:4)
- Into what have some perverted God’s grace? (v. 4)
- In what way should a Christian demonstrate grace? (v. 6)
2 Thessalonians 2:16
- What do we as Christians have by grace? (v. 16)
2 Peter 3:18
- In what are we to grow? (v. 18)
If our salvation is by grace and not by works then what role does obedience play?
What part does Jesus’ sinlessness play in His sacrifice?
In the familiar parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32; not a part of this week’s reading), what role does grace play for the prodigal? for the older brother?
How is our giving an act of grace? (2 Cor. 8:7)
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11)