Can you explain the Bible doctrine of Grace?

1. There is a word that conveys wonderful hope and comfort to the Christian…
a. The word is “grace”
b. It is a word that Paul loved to use
1) Every epistle that he wrote (with the possible exception of Hebrews), begins and ends with mention of this word
2) E.g., 1 Th 1:1; 5:28

1 Th 1:1
1* Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

1 Thess. 5:28
28* The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

2. What does this word actually mean?
a. How is it used in the N. T. scriptures?
b. What important things should we keep in mind concerning “grace”?

[In this study, we shall spend a few moments focusing our attention on this wonderful word, and its relationship to the Christian. Let’s begin by noticing..]

I. THE DEFINITION OF “GRACE”

A. THAT WHICH GIVES JOY, PLEASURE, DELIGHT…
1. This is the original idea of the Greek word “charis”
2. It is used in the N.T. in this way in reference to SPEECH…
a. The words of Jesus were spoken with grace – Lk 4:22

Lk 4:22

22* And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

b. The words of the Christian are to impart grace to the hearers – Ep 4:29; Co 4:6

Ep 4:29
29* Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Col 4:6

6* Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.

B. GOOD-WILL, LOVINGKINDNESS, FAVOR…
1. In this way, it is used …
a. Of the kindness of a master towards his inferiors or servants
b. And especially of God towards men
2. THAYER points out that:
a. “CHARIS contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved.”
b. “The NT writers use CHARIS preeminently of that kindness by which God bestows favors even upon the ill-deserving, and grants to sinners the pardon of their offenses, and bids them accept of eternal salvation through Christ.” – e.g.,Ep 2:5

Eph. 2:5

5* even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

3. It is this particular definition of grace that prompts us to think of it most often as “unmerited favor”

C. A SPIRITUAL STATE OR CONDITION IN WHICH ONE ENJOYS GOD’S FAVOR…
1. When one accepts God’s grace, they are in a “state of grace”
2. Cf. Ro 5:1-2; 1 Pe 5:12

Ro 5:1-2

1* Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2* through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

1 Pet. 5:12

12* Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!

D. AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE FOR FAVOR BESTOWED…

1. E.g., 1 Tim. 1:12 where the English word is “thank” (“I thank Jesus Christ…”)

12* I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,

2. This is what is meant when people ask someone to “say grace” before eating a meal.[Such are the main ways the word GRACE is used in the NT. In connection with this word, there are some things that Christians should always keep in mind)

II. GRACE AND THE CHRISTIAN
A. WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE!
1. Salvation is first, foremost, and always a matter of grace!

Ep 2:5-8
5* even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
6* and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7* so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8* For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

a. God doesn’t owe us anything
b. What we deserve is eternal damnation, because all are sinners – Ro 3:23; 6:23a (FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, THE WAGES ARE …)
c. Salvation is a gift, which God in lovingkindness offers to man – Ro 6:23b;

Ti 3:3-7
5* He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
6* whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7* so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

2. No matter what God may call upon us to do in order to receive His grace, when we do those things (cf. believe, repent, confess Jesus, be baptized)…
a. In no way can we ever say that we earn or merit salvation
b. We are still “unworthy servants” – cf. Lk 17:10
3. We must forever remember that only by God’s grace is salvation possible!

B. GOD’S GRACE REQUIRES HOLY LIVING!
1. Some people reason that since we are saved by grace, we are free to do whatever we wish
2. Yet Paul wrote that the “grace of God…teaches us” to:
a. Deny ungodliness and worldly lusts
b. Live soberly, righteously and godly
c. Look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus
Christ – cf.

Titus 2:11-13
11* For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
12* instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
13* looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

3. As he continues, Paul explain why Jesus in grace gave Himself for us…
a. That He might redeem us from every lawless deed
b. That He might purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works – cf.

Titus 2:14
14* who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

4. The unmerited favor of God is no excuse to go on sinning!

C. HOLY LIVING REQUIRES GOD’S GRACE!
1. To live “soberly, righteously and godly” requires the grace of God
2. We cannot do it on our own, but with God’s help we can!
a. He works in us to do His good will –

Phil. 2:12-13
12* So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
13* for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

b. By His strength we can do all the things He desires of us – Ph 4:13 – “ I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

D. WE MUST GROW IN GRACE!
1. This is especially true if we are going to live holy lives
2. Peter commands us to grow in grace – cf.

2 Pet. 3:18
18* but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

3. Dear brother or sister, it is not enough just to experience God’s grace in forgiving our sins
a. God has so much more to share with us, both in this life and the life to come –

Eph 2:7
7* so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

b. This explains Paul’s salutations and benedictions – cf. 1 Th 1:1; 5:28
4. We can grow in grace through:
a. Heeding the Word of God

Ac 20:32
32* “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

b. Drawing near to God in prayer

Heb 4:16
16* Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

E. WE CAN RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE IN VAIN!

1. Paul pleaded with the Corinthians that they might not receive God’s grace in vain –

2 Co 6:1
1* And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain–

2. Having received God’s grace, it is possible for it to have been in vain!
a. By seeking justification for sin elsewhere –

Gal 5:4
4* You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

1) In the immediate context, Paul has reference to the Law of Moses
2) But if we seek to be justified by any system of salvation by works alone, we will fall from grace!
b. By using God’s grace as an excuse for licentiousness –

Jude 4
4* For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

1) Some were using grace as an excuse for shameless behavior
2) And yet we have seen that God’s grace requires holy living – 2 Ti 2:11-14
c. By willful and impenitent sinning, thereby despising the Spirit of grace – cf. He 10:26-31
1) For such a person there no longer remains a sacrifice of sin!
2) Only a fearful expectation of judgment
3) Why? Because through such willful and impenitent sin one…
a) Tramples the Son of God underfoot
b) Counts the blood of the covenant (i.e., Jesus’ blood) by which he was sanctified (i.e., saved) a common thing
c) Insults the Spirit of grace

CONCLUSION
1. What a terrible thing it would be, to have received God’s grace in vain!
a. To have received God’s grace at one point
b. But then to make it all vain (useless)
2. But it is just as terrible…
a. Not to receive it all!
b. Or having received it, not to grow in it!
3. So I encourage you all, in the words of the writer of Hebrews: “look(ing) diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God.” – He 12:15
“let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” – He 12:28
“For it is good that the heart be established by grace…” – He 13:9
“Grace be with you all. Amen” – He 13:25
Have you received the wonderful grace of God in your life?

The “Executable Outlines” Series, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 1999

ASK YOUR PREACHER

QUESTION: What does the word “grace” mean as used in the Bible?

ANSWER: The word that is translated “grace” in the New Testament has a variety of meanings, depending on the context of the verse being read. Grace can be of man or Deity (God, Christ, Holy Ghost). It can mean “thankful” such as in 1 Timothy 1:12; it can mean “Sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech” as in Luke 4:22. 129 times it is translated simply “grace” meaning “good-will, lovingkindness, favor” and contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved. We find in many places in the Old Testament where God helped man when he did not deserve that help. We find examples of this when God delivered the Israelites from bondage during the time of the Judges; helped them win battles; gave them the promised land (Canaan – Lev 23:9-10 and Num 15:2-3). Sometimes it just means “favor” with no special gift involved (Acts 2:47). Again it is used as a form of greeting common at that time (Rom 1:7). To under stand what the writer meant we must consider the context in which the word is found. In no case should our understanding of how the word is used contradict any other passage in the Bible (Old or New Testament). Next week we will look at how the word is used and misused.

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