Summary: Simply put, grace is God’s best for our worst.
Grace In Christ
Text: Eph. 2:1-10
1. Illustration: Put bluntly: the American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it practice. We say we believe that the fundamental structure of reality is grace, not works – but our lives refute our faith.
By and large, the gospel of grace is neither proclaimed, understood, nor lived. Too many Christians are living in the house of fear and not in the house of love.
SOURCE: Brennan Manning
2. We talk about it. We sing about it. However, do we really understand Grace?
a. What is Grace?
b. Why do we need Grace?
c. Why does God give Grace?
3. Read Eph. 2:1-10
Transition: First, we must understand...
I. What Is Grace? (8-10)
A. By Grace
1. In verse 8, Paul says, "God saved you by his grace..."
2. Grace (charis) means the undeserved favor and blessings of God. —Practical Word Studies in the New Testament
a. The word undeserved is the key to understanding grace. Man does not deserve God’s favor; he cannot earn God’s approval and blessings.
b. God is too high and man too low for man to deserve anything from God.
3. For Paul grace is the essence of God’s decisive saving act in Jesus Christ, which took place in his sacrificial death, and also of all its consequences in the present and future - (New International Dict of NT Theology. Pradis CD-ROM)
a. Therefore, the use of grace at the beginning and end of the Pauline letters is much more than a mere polite cliché.
b. "Grace" is not just a good wish for salvation; it is qualified as the grace of Christ.
4. Illustration: I once heard it explained in this way.
a. Suppose that someone breaks into your home, and that in the course of a robbery, that person kills your child.
b. If you hunt them down yourself and kill them, that’s vengeance.
c. If you allow the police to do their jobs and the person is apprehended and punished, that’s justice.
d. If you take them into your home and adopt them as your son or daughter, that’s grace.
5. Grace is the key ingredient and by necessity comes first; everything else flows from and builds on a theology of grace (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 103).
a. Grace means the completely undeserved, loving commitment of God to us.
b. For some reason unknown to us, but which is rooted in his nature, God gives himself to us, attaches himself to us, and acts to rescue us.
c. Though wrath should have come, saving grace comes instead.
6. Paul says in his letter to the Romans that we "all of sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," and that "the wages of that sin is death."
a. We deserved death, but we got life.
b. We deserved wrath, but we got mercy.
c. We deserved condemnation, but we got justification.
d. We deserved hell, but we got grace.
7. Paul also insists that we receive grace through faith.
a. Faith in whom? Faith in God!
b. Faith is relational, describing reliance on a reliable God.
c. Faith is a covenant word, expressing the commitment and trust that bind two parties together.
d. Throughout Scripture, God by his grace makes promises and commits himself to his people. They in turn are to trust those promises and live in light of them.
e. God shows himself faithful and people are to respond in faithfulness.
f. To say "I have faith" does not so much say anything about oneself; rather it says, "God is a trustworthy God." (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 105).
B. Gift of God
1. Paul also says that salvation by grace, through faith, "is not a reward for the things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."
2. The initiative always lies only and completely with him. No human action could remove us from the plight in which we are found (Snodgrass, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Ephesians, 105).
3. Paul’s point is that salvation is a gift from the trustworthy God, whom we believe.
4. Illustration: Phillip Yancey describes grace in his book What’s So Amazing About Grace. He writes, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more—no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less—no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much an infinite God can possibly love.”
5. Grace is the greatest gift that you will ever receive.
a. Paul is firm that absolutely nothing is of our own doing--not salvation, not grace, not even the faith exercised to receive salvation.