Grace. More specifically God’s grace. As believers we talk about it a lot, frequently defining it as God’s unmerited favor towards us. And indeed it is. It is by God’s grace that we are saved, and not by anything we can do (Eph. 2:8). God’s grace has dealt with our sin and we now have a future with him. It is unfortunate however that we often leave it there.
All Encompassing Grace
If you break out your concordance and look up the word grace you will find it used in some interesting ways.
- In Acts 4:33 God’s grace was working powerfully among the Apostles. His favor went beyond salvation and was involved in the service they rendered to God. His grace enabled them to grow the church in spite of any opposition they faced.
- In Romans 12:6, Ephesians 4:7-13 and 1 Peter 4:10 God’s grace is given to each of us in the form of gifts, or the abilities to act in ways that would build up the body of Christ. Here grace also extends beyond salvation and into our life of service to him. Grace includes being equipped for service and being an active part of the body of Christ.
- In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God’s grace is sufficient for Paul’s weaknesses. Grace channels God’s power into the life of the one who is open to it. God’s grace saved me, equips me and also empowers me for service.
- In 2 Timothy 1:9 we see that God’s grace not only was the instrument of our salvation, it is also a call to a holy life. A holy life is one that is set apart from the world and devoted to God. I cannot be holy and continue as a part of the world. God’s grace calls me to leave the world behind.
Saved By Grace
Notice that these, and other passages as well, all refer to grace as something other than just God choosing to save us. Grace impacts everything that God is doing toward us; it is like a secret weapon that God has aimed at us, although for our good rather than harm. God chose to save us for a life of holiness and service. Grace calls for me to be a disciple, serving and giving myself to the master. Look back at the passage in Ephesians that we started with.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV
The Gift of Salvation
Our salvation is a gift from God. It is something that God, because of his grace, choses to give to me. There is nothing I can do that would make me worthy of that gift of salvation. From my perspective, it is simply a matter of faith. Of surrendering to his Lordship.
We are God’s Handiwork
We are saved by grace – that’s the part we like. But we are also created in Christ Jesus (saved) to accomplish the work that God has prepared for us to do – and that part is kind of scary. We are saved by grace to be disciples. And not disciples in name only, but disciples who rely on God’s grace to follow their Lord wherever he leads and are faithful to the task that he has given us. Disciples don’t give the master advice on the best use of themselves, nor do they only follow when it is convenient.
When Jesus called the twelve to be his first disciples they were not called to follow one day a week or in their spare time. They were called to leave their nets and tax booth behind and follow him. Could it be that his grace calls us to do the same? Our call may not involve physically leaving our jobs and homes behind, but it does call for us to be full time disciples, serving him on the job, at home and in the world around us. Oh, at the end of this life, to hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant“.
All Posts In This Series
- A Brief Introduction to Ephesians: Who and Why - This brief introduction to Ephesians will share some of the ideas of authorship, audience and purpose that many scholars see, as well as my views.
- Spiritual Blessings – Ephesians 1:3-14 - God has given his spiritual blessings to us in the heavenly realm. And we have these blessing because we are in Christ. Praise God for all he has done.
- Prayer – Ephesians 1:15-23 - In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul's prayer for the recipients of this letter is for a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know God better.
- From Death Into Life: An Act of Grace – Ephesians 2:1-7 - In my natural state I was spiritually dead, separated from the life of God. But by his grace, I have been made alive, with a life that will never end.
- Amazing Grace – Ephesians 2:8-10 - Grace. More specifically God's grace. As believers we talk about it a lot, frequently defining it as God's unmerited favor towards us. And indeed it is. It is by God's grace that we are saved, and not by anything we can do (Ephesians 2:8). God's grace has dealt with our sin and we now have a future with him. It is unfortunate however that we often leave it there.
- Tearing Down Walls – Ephesians 2:11-22 - In Christ it makes no difference whether we are Jew or Gentile. We are all one body in him because of grace. It is by faith in what Jesus did that we come into relationship with God now; not by adherence to the commands and regulations of the law. Because observance of the law as a means to righteousness has been replaced by God's grace, we are all equally able to stand before God, not because of what I have done, but because of what he did.
- The Mystery of Christ – Ephesians 3:1-13 - And the mystery is not only that the barrier that separated Jews from Gentiles has been eliminated. But also that the need for a priestly intermediary has been removed. All believers now also serve as priests and each have direct access to the throne of God.
- Rooted and Established In Love – Ephesians 3:14-21 - Ephesians really gives us a look into Paul’s prayer life, at least concerning the churches he was worked with. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul expresses his prayer for this church. And now in chapter 3, verses 14-21, he continues that prayer. Here the prayer appears to have two parts; that the vessel be prepared, and then that it be filled.
- Walking Worthy – Ephesians 4:1-6 - What does walking worthy of our calling mean? In the context of Ephesians 4:1-6, it refers to our role in the body of Christ. Be the best member you can be.
- Growing a Mature Church – Ephesians 4:11-16 - Christ provides his church with the necessary equippers to that we can be a mature church, fully equipped to do the work he has called us to.
- Out With the Old, In With the New – Ephesians 4:17-32 - How do I live as an effective member of the body of Christ? It involves personal transformation, putting off the old self, and taking on the new self.
- Imitators of God – Ephesians 5:1-20 - Don't be like the world around you. Instead, be imitators of God by living a life of love, living as a child of the light, and living with wisdom.
- Married to Jesus – Ephesians 5:22-33 - One of the images for the church in the New Testament is the Bride of Christ. This image pictures the intimate relationship between Christ and his church.
- All In the Family – Ephesians 5:21-6:9 - Paul's instructions to first century families contains useful information for families today. It also contains advice for workplace relationships.
- Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:10-20 - A spiritual battle is raging all around us. So take up the armor God provides so you can stand your ground and be engaged in that spiritual warfare.
- November 14, 2011 Original post
- August 3, 2018: Updated for content and SEO