If I were to ask you what grace is and what grace does, what would you say? Undeserved favor? Getting what we don't deserve? How about “God's Riches At Christ's Expense? Have you heard any of this before?
Grace is probably one of the most taught about subject in church today, and rightfully so. It's by grace we are saved through faith; not of works lest we should boast. It is accurate to say that grace is when God freely gives us His own righteousness. We don't have to work for it or try to earn it – we're no longer under the old law! God's grace has completely wiped out our past sins, leaving us clean in His eyes! Praise God!
But forgiveness isn't the only side to God's grace. It is the only part being taught today, though. This message is very true, but it is also incomplete. From what is being taught in a lot of churches today, it would be easy to come to the wrong conclusions. It would be easy for us to get so caught up in Ephesians 2:8 and 9 (For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast), that we forget to read on to verse 10 (For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them). There is more to the story of grace than we're being told!
The rest of the grace message is found in Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. We have gotten so wrapped up in being saved by grace and not works, that we have lost sight of the fact that grace teaches us to do good works.
Grace isn't about how much we can get away with once we're saved. We aren't allowed to do whatever we want and claim grace over it. Paul says in Romans 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Paul absolutely disagreed with the doctrine of “greasy grace.” That's the teaching that “as long as you believe in Jesus, it's ok, go ahead and do whatever feels right for you.”
Jesus agrees with Paul when He said in John 14:12 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. Obviously, even though it is God's grace that saves us, it is obedience that proves our love for our Savior.
It is God's grace that saved us, but grace didn't save us just to let us go back to our sin! Now that grace has saved us, it teaches us how to live a godly life! That makes sense, right? I mean if we were saved “for good works” (according to Ephesians 2:10), it would be understandable that the same grace that saved us would teach us how to do what is right!
Not only does grace save us and teach us, it also empowers us. It doesn't just teach us to do the right thing and then expect us to be able to do it alone. We were powerless to obey God before we were saved. And now that we are saved, we still need the strength do do what's right. Grace gives us that strength. It is God's grace that empower us and enables us to obey Him. Hebrew 12:28 sums up this side of God's Grace, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” After reading that, God's word to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 makes more sense: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” There you have it: grace is synonymous with strength!
So, God's grace saves us by faith in Jesus Christ. It teaches us to live right and to obey God. And when our strength to obey is weak, God's grace empowers us. What an amazing gift God has given us! It's no wonder Ephesians 1 and 2 declare the “riches of His grace!” God's grace is truly all that we need in our Christian walk! It is a pity to think that so many people would cheapen the real grace message to “what can I get away with and still be a Christian?” How sad!
Now, don't get confused and think that I'm talking about legalism. I'm not! I'm not teaching obedience instead of grace
First of all, we're not talking about doing something to get saved; we're talking about doing something because you are saved!
Secondly, true grace is the only way to obey God! You simply can't obey God by your own power. You need God's grace to enable you!
And finally, this isn't about earning righteousness – it's about demonstrating righteousness!
That is the forgotten side of grace. Not just a salvation, but the wisdom and power to obey God in our everyday life!