Summary: Grace is not only the basis of our salvation but is also the foundation of our security, sanctification, service and ultimate survival as children of God in a hostile world.
Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
I Cor. 15:9-10 "For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
Just what is the grace of God? It has been simply defined as the unmerited love and favour of God. This is true. But I like say it this way: "The unmerited love and favor of God acting on our behalf now and forever.." The grace of God not only saves us through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, but it also enables and empowers us to love and serve Him in every aspect of the Christian life.
The testimony of the writer of these verses is a tremendous tribute to the grace of God. His story is a story of a classic and complete conversion. His simple statement, " . . because I persecuted the church of God..." says it all. What happened to him on the road to Damascus is a clear and undeniable example of the most radical change and spiritual metamorphosis one could ever imagine. The violent hatred, hostility, and horrible slaughter perpetrated by Saul, the powerful persecutor, is beyond our capacity to conceive. Is it not significant that he did it all with great and sincere devotion and dedication to his religion; just as the religious terrorists of our day purport to do? I am sure he had in mind the white hot religious fervor that drove his terrible Jerusalem campaign of persecution when he latter penned these words about his great burden for his earlier zealous companions in violence: "Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. . . " Is it any wonder the diminutive Paul would later exclaim, "But by the grace of God I am what I am!" Amazing Grace!
The testimony of the writer of that grand old hymn of the faith, John Newton, is also a tremendous tribute to the amazing grace of God. It is so familiar that few Christians need to review it to remember it. The depths of depravity and the desperate despair to which Newton had sunk is not particularly pleasant reading. Yet the words of his great testimonial song tell us God did the same for him.
But is our testimony any different? Weren’t we all brought down to the depths of depravity and overwhelmed with desperate despair when our God heard our cry and lifted us up, cleansed us and set our feet upon the Solid Rock, Jesus Christ? Can we not all echo Paul’s statement and Newton’s verses about the grace of God? Can we not all concur with Paul’s confession when he said, "This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."? (I Tim. 1:15) As we reflect upon God’s grace together today, let us once again review what God’s grace has done for each of those who have been saved by it.
WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE. The scripture clearly states that even our faith is a gift of God’s grace. Is it not tremendous that God’s loving grace is manifest in that even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? (Ro. 5:8) When we look at ourselves, what are we really like? Can we argue with Paul’s conclusion that all of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God? Can we contend with Paul’s observation that there is none righteous, no not one; there is none that seek after God?
Until we see ourselves collectively and individually in this true light, we cannot really know the grace of God. Until we accept the totality of our sinful depravity we will not be able to give God the glory for eternally saving us by grace through faith.
The story of the ten lepers reminds us of this. (See Luke 17:12-19) Leprosy is used throughout the Bible as a type of man’s terrible, incurable, sinful condition. When Jesus healed them of their terrible incurable disease, only one of them understood the grace and mercy of God and " .. turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. He fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks. He was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where [are] the nine?"