Grace is a part of the character of God. Grace is most frequently spoken of as a commodity, that is distributed, and such it is. But first and foremost, grace is a description of the character of God, which is displayed by His gifts to men. God is a God of grace, and He desires to make this known not only to men, but also to the angelic hosts. Now let us pause right here and watch this video by Leann Rimes as she sings Amazing Grace.
What beautiful and amazing words for all of us to comprehend. For all of us as believers truly must have felt this way at some point in our lives. He truly is an amazing God, because He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:5-12).
WHAT IS GOD’S GRACE?
The fullness of God’s grace is beyond human appreciation, comprehension or full knowledge. The riches of His goodness cannot be expressed or described by mortal tongue. We can only attempt to describe it, and our best efforts will be a puny approximation. We can admire the beauty of divine grace, but we cannot really explore its depths. At best we can only stand in awe at what we see, and exclaim with the Apostle Paul:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Rom. 11:33-36.)
Anyone who attempts to talk about God’s grace must begin, again with Paul, by confessing personal inadequacy for the task (2 Cor. 3:5). We are at best clay pots, entrusted with a priceless treasure (2 Cor. 4:7). Yet God can enable even clay pots to speak his word and glorify his name. “Our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5). “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). The “surpassing greatness of the power” is from God and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7).
Scripture reveals much about the grace of God, and we will profit from studying what it reveals. It is possible that sermon subjects, like ladies’ fashions or teenagers’ music, go in cycles. Perhaps we have neglected the grace of God — to our own great loss and harm — because those before us, or around us, neglected man’s responsibility to obey God. Whatever the reason, many sermons, conversations and class discussions these days seem to indicate a lack of basic appreciation for this central theme of the New Testament. Let us give some thought to what Scripture says about God’s grace.
Now bear with me as we pause and watch this next video:
What Grace Is Not
Before we notice what grace IS in the New Testament, we need to see two things that grace is NOT. Both these errors are popularly taught and believed today. Sometimes one of them leads to the other. Sometimes people who have been taught one, and learned better, go so far from that error that they fall into the other extreme which is also erroneous. Let us see, then, two erroneous ideas about God’s grace — and see by the word of God that neither is true or worthy of our confidence, but that both deserve only to be rejected and warned against. These two erroneous ideas about grace relate to the two eternal principles we have already noticed. One of them fails to take into account what we have seen about God. The other does not deal with the truth we have observed about ourselves. These are the twin errors of LICENSE and LEGALISM.
Grace Is Not License
In the first place, grace is not license! The doctrine of “license” says, in effect: “Ignore God’s law and count on his grace.” This doctrine implies that our attitude and actions toward God do not matter at all — that we can flagrantly live in knowing and willful rebellion against God if we wish –and that somehow God’s grace will take care of anyway when we face God in judgment. There are those today, and were in New Testament times, who taught LICENSE in the name of grace. But Scripture plainly teaches that grace is not license.
License is a perversion of God’s grace. It denies what we have seen already about God: that he hates sin and always punishes it. This error ignores God’s just demand for a sinless life. It perverts the true grace of God. It is wrong, and always has been. License is not grace, because license does not take into account the eternal principle which grows out of God’s very nature: God demands a sinless life and always punishes sin with death.
Let us notice the New Testament evidence of three writers which proves beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt that LICENSE is not the true grace of God. Other Scriptures could be found along this same line. But these will be enough to clearly demonstrate to any honest person that the grace of God is not LICENSE. Grace does not mean “do as you please and somehow God will forgive everything.”
The first witness is the Apostle Paul. When Paul preached on grace, sometimes his critics accused him of preaching license. He answers this charge very clearly in his epistle to the Romans. Paul speaks there of God’s grace to man in these words:
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. And the law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:19-21) .
In these verses Paul magnifies the grace of God. As much as Adam did for harm to the human race — and Paul affirms more about that than we sometimes have wished to acknowledge — Christ did so much more for mankind by His own life of obedience to God. Where sin increased, Paul says, grace increased even more! Satan could not have the last word! His most horrible evil is overshadowed entirely by God’s kindness to sinners through Jesus Christ.
Some of those who heard Paul preach these things responded by accusing him of teaching license. They said that his teaching would encourage people to go ahead and sin, counting on God’s grace to save them. Paul responded to this charge in the very next verses.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? . . . Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. . . . Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts (Rom. 6:1, 2, 6, 12).
Grace does not mean LICENSE! Grace is NOT permission to go on sinning. Anyone who says that it is, is wrong — according to the Apostle Paul in these verses. But this is not all. The advocates of LICENSE — whether they be indulgent “church members” who want to do as they please, advocates of a so-called “new morality” who say that all the gates are now open for unbridled satisfaction of every desire of body and mind, or libertines who preach as gospel a doctrine of “do as you please and God will overlook it all somehow” — are all WRONG! Grace is not license.
This will conclude Part 1 of God’s Amazing Grace. Watch this last video, and meditate on all you have heard and read here, then share this message with your family, friends, relatives and business associates. May God’s grace rest and abound upon you all the days of your glorious life as you live and work in his abundances of love and prosperity.