G r a c e
1. The word “gospel” means good news. Grace is good news. Grace is the gospel. It does not need to be softened, it needs to be shouted. It does not to be defended, it needs to be let loose. It does not need to be understood, it just needs to be believed and received. The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16, 17)
2. The gospel includes the truth that everyone, in their original state, is a sinner, separated from God and not able to get into a relationship with Him by their own merit or effort, no matter how they try. If we are measured against the Law of God, everyone fails. “…as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one. (Romans 3:10-12)
3. And then the grace of God appears: “But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed-attested by the Law and the Prophets -that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation (the turning away of wrath by an offering) through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. He presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
4. By this grace of God, we are changed forever. “Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness. Likewise, David also speaks of the blessing of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: How happy those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered! How happy the man whom the Lord will never charge with sin!” (Romans 4:4-8)
5. Grace is not just for salvation anymore. We did not just receive a measure of the love of God as a gift merely for admittance into His family and His Kingdom. Grace is now, has always been, and will always be, the provision of God for every Christian that gives each of us the power to know, enjoy, and live for the Father the way that he has intended for us to know Him, enjoy Him, and live for Him since the moment that Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
6. Grace is the atmosphere of Heaven that causes us to breathe God’s breath of life and to live in His presence, both now and throughout eternity. It is what sets us free from guilt, shame, and condemnation and brings us into freedom whereby we experience real life, real love, and real relationship, with God and with each other, no matter what happens in our lives. “Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)
7. A true understanding of the grace of God in our lives in no way causes us to want to sin. In fact, when we see the unconditional love of God that has been freely poured out to us because of Jesus, our new heart, given to us in the New Covenant, is more free to live more consistently in godliness, purity, love and holiness than was ever possible when we thought we had to be good enough to maintain the love of the Father in our lives. When we really see what is ours, sin loses its power, temptation loses its hook in us, and religion loses its empty promise to make us better. “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
This is further clarified by the Apostle Paul as he explains how the good news of grace and our full acceptance in Jesus frees us from a life of sin: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace. What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!” (Romans 6:12-15)
Knowing that we are fully loved by God, no matter what, does not cause a Christian to want to sin! Just the opposite, it causes us to want to bear the good fruit of righteousness, the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in grateful response to the Father’s unfailing love. Paul says that it is precisely because of grace that we can live out loud as “His creation-created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
8. A Christian has absolutely no relationship with the Law. In other words, our performance—our obedience, our faithfulness to do good, our works—these are not the standard against which God measures us. It would be, if we were still under the Law, but Jesus has “measured up” for us, and His righteousness has been given to us as a free gift. “Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, so that you may belong to another-to Him who was raised from the dead-that we may bear fruit for God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions operated through the law in every part of us and bore fruit for death. But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law.” (Romans 7:4-6)
9. Christians are no longer under the threat of a downgraded status with the Father. Jesus’ sacrifice has fully satisfied the requirements of righteousness and has imparted, or freely given, His own righteousness to us by actually becoming our sin on the cross. “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)
10. It is by grace that we have been adopted into the family of God and He has become our Father. It is by that same grace that we are kept as His children, secure in His family, safe in His faithful love, seated at His table, and heirs of His Kingdom. We are not just “sinners saved by grace,” we are now saints, priests and kings. A saint can sin, but that doesn’t make that saint a sinner. A sinner can do something saintly, but that doesn’t make the sinner a saint, because it never has been and never will be about our performance. It has been, though, and ever will be, about Jesus. “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ-seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:15-17)
11. Grace is so good, it is even beyond our ability to mess it up. Some are concerned about the “hyper-grace message.” There is no reason to be concerned. All grace is hyper grace. In fact, grace itself is not just a message. It is not a doctrine to be assailed or defended or debated. Grace is a person. Grace is Jesus Himself. The Law makes Christians self-involved. One who thinks that they are still answerable to the Law—commandments, duties, and performance—will always find themselves looking at themselves to see how they are measuring up. The bad news is that this kind of life always brings death and discouragement. We can never, in our own goodness, live up to the standard of the Law.
And herein is the true gospel—the good news. Because of the Father’s gracious love, we no longer have to live in perpetual self-evaluation. Grace sets us free from looking at ourselves and worrying about our performance because grace shows us that it was never about us anyway. It—life, the world, the universe—has always been about Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God who came into the world not to make bad people good, but to make dead people live. We look to Him. We depend on Him. And we rest in Him. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39)
This is the grace in which we stand.