English: Present Cake with Sugar Bow

Today is a great day to think about grace.  It was on this day, October 31st, in 1517 that Luther posted his 95 Thesis on the door of a church in Germany because he had understood grace and wanted others to also.  And besides that, there’s a new song from Matt Redman that keeps playing on the radio about grace.  But what is grace?  And why is it so great?

I did a word study a long time ago on the word “grace.”  We know that it is by grace that we are saved and not by the things that we do or do not do.  But is there more to it than that?  Ephesians 2:8-9 says this, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast, (NIV).”

The dictionary defines grace as “goodwill, favor; the love and favor of God toward human beings.”  The definition of the original Greek word for grace used here in Ephesians is “the state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object; by extension:  gift, benefit; credit; words of kindness and benefit, thanks, blessing.”

During the Old Testament time people commonly used the word grace to mean God’s favor.  In the New Testament we read that God showed us His grace through the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Jesus Christ.  Throughout the book of Ephesians we see that Paul teaches believers that we have the desire and ability to obey God’s Word because of grace.  In Ephesians 4:22 and 24 Paul encourages us to put off the old self and put on the new self.  In Ephesians 6:11 Paul tells us to put on the full armor of God.  And in Ephesians 6:14 we learn that we are to stand firm.  All of this is not because we can earn God’s favor, but because we already have His favor and we want to live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Back in the time that Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Ephesus, the people knew that even though a gift is free, to accept that gift meant that they had an obligation to the one who gave them the gift.  The word for grace had a reciprocal meaning in that God had accepted the believers into favor through Jesus and then the believers return that favor by showing thankfulness to God, helping others, and by encouraging and supporting others in a society that is not living God’s way.  The next verse that Paul wrote after “For it is by grace you have been saved…” is Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  That verse makes complete sense here when we fully understand grace.  (By the way, I wrote a post about this verse earlier that you may read here:  https://lorischulz.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/youre-valuable/ .)

I had always understood grace to mean unmerited favor, which it does, but there is more to it than just that.  When we fully understand the magnitude of the gift that God has freely given to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, we will be compelled to live our life for Him with a heart of gratitude.

I especially like the line in Matt Redman’s new song “Your Grace Finds Me” that says “I’ll keep breathing in Your grace and breathing out Your praise” because that is what grace is all about.  Accepting God’s free gift of grace through Jesus and breathing out, or living out, His praise because of what He has done and continues to do for us.

So, you don’t have to write a long thesis and post it onto any church doors.  That’s not very common these days.  And you don’t have to write a song.  But as you consider God’s great gift of grace, I know that you will want to do the good works that God has prepared just for you to do as you breathe in His grace and breathe out His praise each day.  In the meantime, you can enjoy the song here as you enjoy living in God’s great grace today.