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Amazing Grace

25 September 2022

Grace.  That’s a word that we all love.  Amazing grace.  Saving grace.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But what exactly IS grace?  And why is it so amazing?


When I was a new believer, I remember being told that mercy was not getting what you deserved and grace was getting what you didn’t deserve.  That’s a good way to remember which way round they go, but is it the full story?  Let’s have a look…


Our word ‘grace’ comes from the Latin word ‘gratia’, which means pleasing or thankful.  In Greek, the word is ‘charis’ and that means ‘favour freely given’.  And actually, favour freely given is a good way to describe grace.


In this week’s chapters, we read a lot about grace.  In Ephesians 2, Paul writes


But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:4-10 NIV)


So we can see that we were saved by grace.  There was nothing we could do to save ourselves; our salvation was a gift from God, the ultimate act of favour freely given.  Saving grace is the first sort of grace.


We can also see that God’s grace is incomparably rich.  In fact, in Ephesians 2-3, the word grace is used 6 times.  Sometimes it is used to mean saving grace, as we have seen, but let’s have a look at what else grace means.  There is a clue at the end of the passage above: “…created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”


We are saved by faith, but then we need to get down to doing God’s good works – works he prepared in advance for us to do!  And this brings us nicely to the other aspect of grace: the resources to do the job God has asked us to do.  Let’s look at Ephesians 3 for more information.


“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.  Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.  His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Ephesians 3:7-11 NIV)


Paul became a servant by grace.  That’s interesting – being a servant of God is a good gift!  And then, Paul tells us about the grace given to him to preach to the Gentiles.  Paul’s special job was to preach to the non-Jewish peoples.  And this wasn’t a one-off: it was his life’s work.  This grace that he was given was the ability, the heart, the finances, the co-workers and in fact, everything he needed to preach to the Gentiles in the way that God had asked him to.  Grace is the gift of God that enables us to do what God has asked us to do.  It is God’s provision.


Let’s put this into context.  When we do things in our own strength, we have to find everything we need for the task and it can be a heavy burden.  But when God tells us to do something, he doesn’t expect us to go it alone.  He provides us with everything we need.  It’s like one of those craft activities or an Airfix kit where everything is provided.  Everything.


So how do we obtain this free gift of grace?  We ask!  Prayer releases faith and releases grace too.  And God knows exactly what we need for the job and it is his pleasure to supply everything at the time it is required.


And that is amazing grace.

Photo of Gill Hayes

Gill Hayes

Core Leadership Team
GoChurch Manchester