Let me tell you up front, “grace” is a bigger word than I ever dreamed imaginable. It’s big because it’s attached to Jesus Christ. Many call some of what I will be sharing in this book the grace message. In truth, it’s the Jesus message. There is no grace apart from him. Grace is not a thing. Grace is Jesus Christ himself.
Search the word “grace” online, and this is what you will find. In the English Standard Version, for example, the word “grace” occurs 138 times–7 times in the Old Testament and 131 times in the New. Stop and think about this fact for a moment. What does it suggest to you about the grace of God? I think it clearly suggests that grace is connected to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Even the Old Testament makes this connection. Remember God’s promise to Abraham? On three different occasions, he told Abraham the world would be blessed through his offspring. What did this mean? Paul explained, “The promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring”. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Galatians 3:16). This is exactly the point John makes in his Gospel account.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth...For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:14,16-17 ESV).
Grace is inextricably tied to Jesus Christ. When Christ showed up on the scene, his grace took center stage. If we are going to know anything about the grace of God, we need to look to Jesus.
So what is grace? This is an important question. After all, grace is the heart and soul of the gospel message. It is the good news. The short definition that most of us know is “unmerited favor as given to us in Christ.” It is this but so much more. The Complete Word Study Dictionary defines “grace” this way:
That which causes joy, pleasure, gratification, favor, acceptance for a kindness granted or desired. It is a favor done without expectation of return; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver.
Grace is where stand, live, and breathe. It is the realm of our existence. It is Christ in us and us in him. Far too often, Christians think of grace as merely a covering for their past sins. Grace is active in our present and moves us into our future. I’ve defined it as God’s work in Jesus Christ to make us spiritually alive and to empower us to live in this world as his children.
Grace is not only the means of salvation; it is the way of the Christian life. It’s not only the door that grants us entry into God’s house; it’s also the way we live once we are in. Once grace starts in a person’s life, it never quits. The simple gospel is simply grace.
As John Newton penned in the most famous hymn of all, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” God’s grace is the good-news story. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the very thing that will make your life a good-news story.
Excerpted from Simple Gospel, Simply Grace by Bob Christopher.
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