When we learned about justification, we learned that we are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. No one is ever saved apart from God’s grace.
One way to define the grace of God is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. God gives us what we could never earn, what we could never merit. We often think of grace as a New Testament concept. But, as we learned in the doctrine of God, God is merciful and gracious (Ex. 34:6). This reality about God is repeated throughout Scripture. Psalm 145:8 is a restatement of God defining Himself in Exodus 34, “The LORD is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love.”
God has always related to His people through grace. There is never anything we could have done to merit a relationship with Him. The covenants, promises made by God to His people, are gracious in nature. God graciously condescends to take us as His own.
When Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, He came full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29).
Grace is essential if we are going to be Christians if we are to have a relationship with God. Because of our sin there is nothing we can do or could have done to earn God’s grace. In His grace the Father sent the Son to live the life we could and did not live and to die the death that we deserved. In His grace Jesus came. In grace the Holy Spirit takes the work of Jesus and changes our hearts.
We are saved by grace alone. We would be hard pressed to find a clearer passage about this than Ephesians 2:1-10.
Before we see the grace of God in this passage Paul presents the problem. Look at how he describes who we were before God’s grace.
- We were dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1)
- We walked in our trespasses and sins (2:2)
- We followed the course of this world, the world that is against God (2:2)
- We followed the prince of the power of the air, Satan himself (2:2)
- We followed the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (2:2)
- We were by nature children of wrath, we rightly and justly deserved God’s condemnation and judgment (2:3)
If all Paul had written was verse 1, we would have seen the problem straight away. What can a dead person do? Nothing. We were spiritually dead. We were born that way. We walked in our deadness. This is a bleak picture.
But after the problem Paul relates to us what happened in our lives. God intervened. There are no words sweeter to the Christian than those two words that begin verse four, But God. Paul describes our God who is rich in mercy who because of His great love made us alive together with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Then he relates to us that this was a gracious act on God’s account, “by grace you have been saved.”
In grace God made us alive together with Christ. Jesus died and was raised on the third day. He was dead and the Father and the Spirit brought Him back to life. Because Christ was resurrected, we too are made alive together with Him (see 1 Cor. 15:20). God’s grace unites us to Jesus so that we spiritually experience a resurrection to spiritual life, and we look forward to the final resurrection of our bodies. We are spiritually alive because Jesus is alive today.
The results of God’s gracious intervention into our lives continues, God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Why do God do this? “So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7)
God is not only gracious to us when He saves us. In Christ, He continues to show the immeasurable riches of His grace to us. God will do this for all eternity. When Paul says, “in the coming ages”, this is what he is referring to. For eternity God will continually shower us with grace. It will never end. His grace will never be exhausted. In Christ, and because of Christ, we will always and forever experience the grace of God in our lives.
Again, Paul reiterates that salvation is by grace, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
Everything about salvation is a gift of God’s grace. Faith itself is a gift of God’s grace. A dead person can’t do anything, and a spiritually dead person can’t have faith. When we are made alive together with Christ the Holy Spirit implants faith within us so that we trust in Christ alone for salvation. Salvation is all of grace. And because Jesus is full of grace and truth it is all because of Him.
Christ is the fountain from which we drink God’s grace. God’s grace comes to us through Him. He is the channel through which God’s grace comes to us. Without Him, salvation and a loving relationship with God would not be possible. We didn’t earn grace, but He lived to do the Father’s will and to please Him. He obeyed the law perfectly. Because of Him, we get grace. We are unworthy recipients, but He is worthy.
And as the hymn says,
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God’s grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin
Praise God for His glorious grace! May we grow a deeper appreciation of it and exult in it daily for God’s glory.
- Titus 3:4-8
- What does Paul mean in verse 8 when he says the saying is trustworthy?
- What do we learn about God’s grace in this passage?
- Romans 3:21-26
- Why is grace a gift?