Yesterday I was at one of my favorite bookstores browsing through the bargain books section when I stumbled upon a little gift book titled “Whispers of Grace” (2013) by Ellie Claire. It is filled with short sayings by famous folks and Bible verses in various translations on the subject of grace. Since some of my blog posts tend to deal with tougher subjects (but not always), the subject of grace is of paramount importance to believers in Jesus Christ and one of great comfort to us. It is, after all, one of the cornerstones of our faith.
Biblically, grace is unmerited favor. It is God’s free action for the benefit of His people. It is different from justice and mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. In grace we get eternal life, something that, quite obviously, we do not deserve, but because of God’s love and kindness manifested in Jesus on the Cross, we receive the great blessing of redemption.
Grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace rules out all human merit (Rom. 11:6). It is the product of God that is given by God because of who He is and not because of who we are. It is the means of our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). We are no longer under the Law but under grace (Rom. 6:14). (See 1 Cor. 15:11, Rom. 5:2, 15-20, 2 Cor. 12:9, and 2 Cor. 9:8). (Quote source here.)
When I was a young girl (which was several decades ago), one of the first acronyms I learned in church was grace (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense), and it has always stuck with me. And one of the classic Bible verses on grace is found in Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
GotQuestions?org gives us a longer definition of grace:
The gospel message is the good news of God’s grace, so it is important to know what grace is and to constantly seek to get a better view of what grace does in our lives.
Grace is an essential part of God’s character. Grace is closely related to God’s benevolence, love, and mercy. Grace can be variously defined as “God’s favor toward the unworthy” or “God’s benevolence on the undeserving.” In His grace, God is willing to forgive us and bless us abundantly, in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve to be treated so well or dealt with so generously.
To fully understand grace, we need to consider who we were without Christ and who we become with Christ. We were born in sin (Psalm 51:5), and we were guilty of breaking God’s holy laws (Romans 3:9–20, 23; 1 John 1:8–10). We were enemies of God (Romans 5:6, 10; 8:7; Colossians 1:21), deserving of death (Romans 6:23a). We were unrighteous (Romans 3:10) and without means of justifying ourselves (Romans 3:20). Spiritually, we were destitute, blind, unclean, and dead. Our souls were in peril of everlasting punishment.
But then came grace. God extended His favor to us. Grace is what saves us (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is the essence of the gospel (Acts 20:24). Grace gives us victory over sin (James 4:6). Grace gives us “eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Paul repeatedly identified grace as the basis of his calling as an apostle (Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 3:2, 7). Jesus Christ is the embodiment of grace, coupled with truth (John 1:14).
The Bible repeatedly calls grace a “gift” (e.g., Ephesians 4:7). This is an important analogy because it teaches us some key things about grace:
First, anyone who has ever received a gift understands that a gift is much different from a loan, which requires repayment or return by the recipient. The fact that grace is a gift means that nothing is owed in return.
Second, there is no cost to the person who receives a gift. A gift is free to the recipient, although it is not free to the giver, who bears the expense. The gift of salvation costs us sinners nothing. But the price of such an extravagant gift came at a great cost for our Lord Jesus, who died in our place.
Third, once a gift has been given, ownership of the gift has transferred and it is now ours to keep. There is a permanence in a gift that does not exist with loans or advances. When a gift changes hands, the giver permanently relinquishes all rights to renege or take back the gift in future. God’s grace is ours forever.
Fourth, in the giving of a gift, the giver voluntarily forfeits something he owns, willingly losing what belongs to him so that the recipient will profit from it. The giver becomes poorer so the recipient can become richer. This generous and voluntary exchange from the giver to the recipient is visible in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
Finally, the Bible teaches that grace is completely unmerited. The gift and the act of giving have nothing at all to do with our merit or innate quality (Romans 4:4; 11:5–6; 2 Timothy 1:9–10). In fact, the Bible says quite clearly that we don’t deserve God’s salvation. Romans 5:8–10 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . While we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.”
Grace does not stop once we are saved; God is gracious to us for the rest of our lives, working within and upon us. The Bible encourages us with many additional benefits that grace secures for every believer:
• Grace wins for us a new relationship of intimacy with God (Exodus 33:17).
• Grace helps us in our every need (Hebrews 4:16).
Grace is actively and continually working in the lives of God’s people. Paul credited the success of his ministry not to his own substantial labors but to “the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Grace is the ongoing, benevolent act of God working in us, without which we can do nothing (John 15:5). Grace is greater than our sin (Romans 5:20), more abundant than we expect (1 Timothy 1:14), and too wonderful for words (2 Corinthians 9:15).
As the recipients of God’s grace, Christians are to be gracious to others. Grace is given to us to serve others and to exercise our spiritual gifts for the building up of the church (Romans 12:6; Ephesians 3:2, 7; 4:7; 1 Peter 4:10). (Quote source here.)
And all of that is Good News! Grace is God’s unmerited gift to us . . . and not because of anything we have done, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We cannot work our way to God on our own merit by anything that we have done. The gift of grace comes through the sacrifice of Jesus to those of us who believe in him.
Getting back to the gift book I mentioned at the beginning of this post, “Whispers of Grace,” it contains 61 sections on the subject of grace each with it’s own title starting with “The Tune of Grace” and ending with “Passionate Love.” Each section contains a variety of approximately six to seven quotes on the subject title in that particular section. Here are four sections I’ve selected from the book to give you an idea of what the rest of the sections are like. The first section is titled, “Strong Refuge” (pp. 48-49):
We know that [God] give us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty. ~Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821)
Why would God promise a refuge unless He knew we would need a place to hide once in a while? ~Neva Coyle
The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him. ~Nahum 1:7 NLT
If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, His ear open to our prayer–His grace sufficient, His promise unchangeable. ~John Newton (1725-1807)
Jesus Christ is no security against storms, but He is perfect security in storms. He has never promised you an easy passage, only a safe landing. ~L.B. Cowman (1870-1960)
Do not take over much thought for tomorrow. God, who has led you safely on so far, will lead you on to the end. Be altogether at rest in the loving holy confidence which you ought to have in His heavenly Providence. ~Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise and with Your glory all day long. ~Psalm 71:7-8 NASB
This next section is titled, “The Source” (pp. 68-69):
He is the Source. Of everything. Strength for your day. Wisdom for your task. Comfort for your soul. Grace for your battle. Provision for each need. Understanding for each failure. Assistance for every encounter. ~Jack Hayford
We are forgiven and righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice; therefore we are pleasing to God in spite of our failures. Christ alone is the source of our forgiveness, freedom, joy, and purpose. ~Robert S. McGee
The very life of God, epitomized in the love of God, originates only and always with Him. ~W. Phillip Keller (1920-1997)
For he satisfies the thirsty and fells the hungry with good things. ~Psalm 107:9 NLT
He is the God who made the world and everything in it…. From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth…. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us. ~Acts 17:24, 26-27 NLT
We must drink deeply from the very Source the deep calm and peace of interior quietude and refreshment of God, allowing the pure water of diving grace to flow plentifully and unceasingly from the Source itself. ~Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
You are never alone. In your heart of hearts, in the place where no two people are ever alike, Christ is waiting for you. And what you never dared hope for springs to life. ~Brother Roger of Taize (1915-2005)
And here is another section entitled, “Encountering God” (pp. 108-109):
We encounter God in the ordinariness of life, not in the search for spiritual highs and extraordinary, mystical experiences, but in our simple presence in life. ~Brennan Manning (1934-2013)
God is with us in the midst of our daily, routine lives. In the middle of cleaning the house or driving somewhere in the pickup…. Often it’s in the middle of the most mundane task that He lets us know He is there with us. We realize, then, that there can be no “ordinary” moments for people who live their lives with Jesus. ~Michael Card
This is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. ~I John 3:24 NIV
Do you believe that God is near? He wants you to. He wants you to know that He is in the midst of your world. Wherever you are as you read these words, He is present. In your car. On the plane. In your office, your bedroom, your den. He’s near. And He is more than near. He is active. ~Max Lucado
Much of what is sacred is hidden in the ordinary, everyday moments of our lives. To see something of the sacred in those moments takes slowing down so we can live our lives more reflectively. ~Ken Gire
If each moment is sacred–a time and place where we encounter God–life itself is sacred. ~Jean M. Blomquist
And I’ll finish up this post with the last section in the book titled, “Passionate Love” (pp. 126-127):
The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to theleast deserving. That’s what God did. At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift–the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. ~John Piper
It may seem strange to think that God wants to spend time with us, but… think about it. If God went to all the trouble to come to earth, to live the life that He did, to die for us, then there’s got to be a hunger and a passion behind that. We think of prayer as an “ought to,” but in reality it is a response to God’s passionate love for us. We need to refocus on the fact that God is waiting for us to show up and be with Him and that our presence truly touches Him. ~Henry Cloud
When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us…. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. ~Titus 3:4-8 NIV
God loves you! He wants you to know Him, and He is sufficient for your every need. ~Anne Graham Lotz
You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. ~Isaiah 25:1 NASB
On the back cover is the following statement:
When we stop to listen, we can hear whispers of God’s grace all around us. Sighs of His love softly speak to our hearts, assuring us that He is with us in all things, at all times. His grace is a never-ending blessing to be shared.
So let’s share it! I’ll end this post with a quote from Charles Colson (1931-2012) on page 12:
It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us. . .
God doesn’t want our success . . .
He wants us . . . .
YouTube Video: “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin: