What Is Grace?
Grace is the part God plays in saving us. It’s definitely the lead role. Without His mercy, His help, His wisdom, His guidance, His comfort, His provision we’d be back right where we started, trying to rescue our life by our own means. Happily, our Father is an outrageous giver. You don’t have to earn or deserve His saving help: You just have to become more adept at receiving it.
Grace Is the Unexpected Miracle
Grace is the unexpected miracle of forgiveness and new life which saves us. The story goes that C. S. Lewis, a much beloved Christian writer of the last century, was once passing by a conference on comparative religions at Oxford where the issue being debated was what belief, if any, was unique to Christianity. On hearing the topic he said, "Oh that’s easy. It’s grace!"
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 WEB
What is grace? Grace is the unexpected answer that God gives us to all our problems. Grace is unexpected because it is so entirely undeserved. When considering our sins and sinfulness, what we actually deserve from God are reprimands, reproaches, even punishments. But He shows us love and mercy instead. When we fail, He gives help and wisdom without the slightest trace of ill will. Grace is just the reverse from what we might expect: It is a living, flowing torrent of blessing.
Grace is unnatural; it seems “out of order.” We are not accustomed to finding it in our dealings with each other, so God’s lavish use of it takes us by surprise. In our world “what goes around comes around." The rule of relationships is "I'll scratch your back, if you scratch mine." The rule of trade is "You get what you pay for." The rule of success is "If you want it, you'll have to work hard for it." But grace gives without any expectation of return. Grace gives first. Grace keeps giving. Grace takes great joy in giving.
Grace is vast! Grace is so much more than a blessing spoken over meals. It is also (incredibly) so much more than what Jesus did for us on the cross. How could anything top that? Actually, something does. The Father's love is a grace given to us—a completely undeserved, life-giving blessing. Had the Father not loved us even when we were weak, even when we were enemies, even when we were ungodly, even when we were sinners, Jesus would never have been asked to die for us.
Grace, therefore, begins with the Father of Lights, who is the Giver of every good gift. Grace actually means "gift": Every gift is a grace bestowed upon us, a good thing freely given to us by the Father. "Saving grace" simply signifies those specific gifts from God that we need to save us.
Grace is universal. We may not encounter it very often where we live—in the midst of our self-centered inner life or our daily relationships in the world—but grace is the stuff the universe is made of. God made everything out of nothing. From the smallest life forms to the most gigantic stars, He not only made the universe functional, He also made it exquisitely beautiful. That is a colossal gift of grace! He didn't consult any of us before creating us and giving us a life by which to explore His beautiful world. That is a tender gift of grace. Nor did He wait for us to ask, but through conscience, dreams, right desires and high ideals He began leading us towards good things. That is an intimate gift of grace!
You Can Bet Your Life on Grace
Grace is indestructible! Since God is asking us to bet our lives on His grace always being there for us, He has shown us how powerful it is.
1. Grace is an unchanging part of the very nature of God. God is the God of All Grace. Giving grace may seem unnatural for us (hence we have a hard time trusting ourselves to it), but it comes naturally to God. It is the way He is. He is not about to change. That's grace.
2. Grace is backed up by the written promises of God. God knows that to us He's invisible. It isn't that He is truly invisible; it's just that we are blind. To help us He has given us the visible evidence of His Word. The Father has sworn by His own Word, Jesus has testified to the truth of the Word, and martyrs throughout the ages have given their lives in witness to the Word. That's grace.
3. Grace is demonstrated by the Blood of His Son. Before we even knew we needed mercy, God sent Jesus to the cross. The Blood Jesus shed is a vibrant demonstration of the Father's love and a visible proof (to our eyes of faith) that our sins have been fully covered. That's grace!
4. Grace is guaranteed by the gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit has freely chosen in love to live within us. Not only that but He has volunteered to be united to us as a guarantee of the good things to come, as sure and certain evidence that we are being saved. All of the help He gives us is His gift of grace to us, whether it is comfort, joy, encouragement, understanding of the scriptures, love of the truth, hope, strength to persevere, correction, guidance or empowerment for ministry. That's a whole lot of grace!
What is grace? Grace is not merely an attribute of God as great as that would be. Grace is a "code name" for the Father who loves us; Jesus whose Blood saves us; and the Spirit who helps us. Whenever you experience a moment saturated with grace, you have just had a close personal encounter with your God!
Father, thank You for opening my eyes and helping me to see how gracious and giving You have always been. Thank You for the gift of life and love, forgiveness and mercy. Thank You for the gift of family and friends. Thank You for the gifts of talents, abilities and right desires. Thank You for all the ways You have been leading me by Your Holy Spirit. Above all thank You for the incomparable gift of Your Son Jesus Christ to be my Savior, Best Friend and Lord! Grant me one thing more: an ever grateful heart!
More to Explore of God’s Live-Saving “Formula”
What is salvation? Salvation is what we need. Everyone needs to get to heaven for instance. Often that is the first thing on a person’s mind when they go looking for God. But there is so much more to salvation than getting to heaven. In any area of your life where you need help, God wants to come to your rescue. He provides everything necessary for saving you by His grace through your faith.
What is faith? Our “job” is to get really, really good at believing in the grace that is being offered us by our loving Father. If someone wants to give you a present, you still have to trust enough to receive it. Believing leads to trusting and trusting leads to receiving. That is the way of faith which opens wide the door for the Lord’s salvation to stream into our life.
On to the Next Question!
How can I be sure I'm saved? It should come as no surprise that doubt and unbelief are enemies of the life of faith. God has overcome your unbelief—now you know who Jesus is—but you will soon have to fight off your doubts in order to keep your confidence in Him flying high. Make sure that you know how to stay sure…
Scriptures and Foot Notes
 This story was told by Philip Yancey in What’s so Amazing about Grace? He attributed it to Scott Hoezee, The Riddle of Grace. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, pg 42. There Hoezee attributed it to a speech given by Peter Kreeft at Calvin College. Lewis’ step-son Douglas Gresham mentioned in an interview with Max McLean that the remark actually took place during an impromptu discussion in a common room at Oxford (where Lewis was a professor). That’s as far as the trail leads!
 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4
 He desires us first; He reaches out to us first; He came to us first: I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that was not called by my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices. Isaiah 65:1-2
 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly... but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:6-10
 Think about it: Every good thing that has ever come into your life had its origin in God’s love for you! Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17 What is grace? Every good thing that has every happened to you!
 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10
 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:10-11
 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14