Summary: Grace is power from above dispersed to meet the needs of our lives.
God’s Amazing Grace
What makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world?
Many years ago that very same question was discussed at a British conference on comparative religions. Experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Some of the participants argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became man, the doctrine of Incarnation. But someone objected, saying that other religions teach similar doctrines, that they had different versions of gods appearing in human form. What about the Resurrection? No, it was argued that other religions believe that the dead rise again and they had accounts of return from death. The discussion grew heated and it went on for some time until Clive Staples Lewis, commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, came in late, sat down, and asked, “What’s the commotion all about?” When he learned that it was a debate about the uniqueness of Christianity, he immediately commented, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
God’s amazing grace. It is mentioned in many prayers and we often sing about it at our church services and gatherings. It is said to be the whole basis of the Christian faith. But what is it and where do we find it? Where does God most show his grace?
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound”... So begins one of the most beloved hymns of all times, a staple in the hymnals of many denominations. The author of the words was John Newton, the self-proclaimed wretch who was once lost but then was found, saved by amazing grace.
On page 858 of the Book of Common Prayer under the “An Outline of the Faith: Commonly called the Catechism”, grace is defined as “God’s favor towards us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.”
Grace is mentioned 170 times in the Bible. Some of the well-known verses are: 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” That is, the grace of God in Paul enabled him and empowered him in his weakness. We can also see that grace is necessary for salvation, Ephesians 2:8 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.” The Bible clearly teaches us also that we are justified by the grace of God, Romans 3:23-24 “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Titus 3:7, “So that we may be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” Romans 1:7, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul recognizes that believers need grace for living the Christian life. A good verse to help explain this grace by which we live is 1 Corinthians 15:10 where Paul testified, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” It was God’s grace working in him that made him the great servant he was.
When I was still a young a boy my mother had a favorite Bible verse that she often quoted. It is Romans 5:20b, “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” As the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was sufficient for Paul, so it is for you and me. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us we grow to be like Jesus and conquer obstacles to grace because the grace of God is at its most intense, not in the midst of righteousness and goodness, but in the midst of sin and evil, "grace overcomes sin!"
The last line in Georges Bernanos’ Diary of a Country Priest is "Grace is everywhere." Fr. Dominic Grassi, the author of Bumping Into God: Finding Grace in Unexpected Places, believes that this quality of God’s presence surrounds us every moment of every day in small and almost imperceptible ways. He says, "It is a blessing to know that ours is not a God of thunderbolts who will respond with a scorched-earth policy every time we annoyingly continue our sinful ways. Instead, God remains incredibly patient, working with us, gracing us, knowing that in time, most likely we will respond to all the love and care that is so freely and unconditionally given to us." He goes on to say, “For me, God’s grace is like sunlight reflecting on a pond that is stirred by a soft breeze. Grace is beautiful, fragile, gentle, and even playful. Where it comes from and why it comes to me, I do not know. But it becomes part of who I am, giving me memories of cooks and plumbers. Of vacations and visits to nursing homes. I have had a life full of watching that grace reflected in so many other lives. I have watched firsthand as it made an incredible difference to the people who were open to it...Our lives are filled with stories, one story after another strung together like beautiful pearls on a necklace."