In this sermon, we are going to look at what is grace according to the bible.
To however understand what is grace according to the bible, we are going to look at the following:
- Definition of grace according to Wikipedia.
- Grace for the unbelievers.
- Grace for the believers.
From there we will move on to see grace as a second chance to repent of unintentional sins, what Paul really meant by grace according to the bible and why you must consider judgement when thinking about what is grace according to the bible.
Definition of grace according to Wikipedia.
In western Christian theology, grace has been defined, not as a created substance of any kind, but as “the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it” ‘the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward the human race”. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free, and totally unexpected and undeserved – that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.
Now because of this context, most Christians have been forced to misconstrue what is grace according to the bible to mean that, even if they live right or not; so long as the grace of God is readily available, they are save.
Now let’s look at the proper meaning of grace according to the bible.
What is grace according to the bible?
When you go to the book of Titus 3:3-7 where we see wahat is grace according to the bible, you will discover that this grace is only given once and for free to unbelievers who lived a sinful life in the past, were converted, and are now believers.
And as the passage above concludes in its context, now that the sinner’s have become believers; they must be able to maintain good conducts, characters or attitudes, which will go on to profit fellow human beings like them.
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.Titus 3:8
Therefore, in this sermon about what is grace according to the bible, I am going to deal with this issue of grace in two dimensions:
- Grace for the unbelievers
- Grace for the believers.
But before we start quoting the bible to support whatever point of views we have about what is grace according to the bible; let us first keep in mind Peter’s advice in interpreting the scriptures. Especially that of Paul which shows us what is grace according to the bible.
Before you try to interpret Paul’s letters, keep this in mind.
Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation-as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the scriptures.2 Peter 3:14-16
And Paul himself, during his lifetime knew that people were misquoting his epistles and letters that was why he wrote:
But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man). Certainly not! For then how will God judge the world? For if the truth of God has increased through my lie to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner? And why not, “let us do evil so that good may come”. –as some affirm that we say. Their condemnation is just.Romans 3:5-8
Grace for the unbelievers.
Why faith precedes grace.
For the unbelievers, whose God’s free gift of grace is waiting on them; they need to understand that this grace, even though it is available and for free, is however not to be received by force.
Meaning that anyone who needs this grace must be willing and ready to receive it as the scripture says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith… (Ephesians 2:8)
This goes to say that the person seeking God’s free gift of grace must first of all have faith which the scripture defines as: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
Meaning that the unbeliever, who has heard the gospel which shows him how his departure from sin will enable him inherits everlasting life in the kingdom of God; must believe that what he hears is true, even though he has not physically seen the proof.
And if he does so and departs from his sinful ways, he will instantly receive the free gift of God called grace according to the bible.
That is why the scripture expands the definition of faith to a clearer and simple understanding in another passage.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.Romans 10:17
And this hearing is not only listening but putting what he hears into practice as the scripture continues:
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves.James 1:22
Grace is not by force.
It is worthy to note here that God will never force anyone to receive this free gift of grace. The person must be willing to rise up and claim it, that was why Jesus invitation to His would be followers goes like these:
“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me.Revelation 3:20
And as we all know a visitor who knocks can never force his way into somebody’s house if the owner of the house refuses to open the door for him.
You can go to the scriptures and study to discover how those called by God responded.
Abraham’s call in Genesis 12, Moses’ call in Exodus 3, and Paul’s call in Acts 19 Etc.
How the disciples responded to God’s call to obtain grace.
In Mathew 4:18-22, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew casting a net into the sea as fishermen.
He said to them “follow me”, and without hesitation, they left their nets and followed Jesus.
As they left that place, He again saw another two brothers James and John in the boat with Zebedee their father.
He also told them “follow me”, and without hesitation, they left their father and followed Jesus.
How two would-be disciples rejected God’s call to obtain grace.
In Luke 9:59-62, Jesus told a would-be disciple to follow him, but e gave an excuse of going to bury his father.
But Jesus told him that he should allow the dead bury their dead.
And H told another who also gave an excuse to go and say farewell to his people in the house.
But Jesus told him that no one who has a hand to the plow and looks back is not fir for the kingdom.
As we can see, the latter people were unable to become His disciples because they had what prevented them from following Jesus.
But the first set who left whatever they did and followed him knew waht is grace according to the bible, and were thus able to become His worthy disciples.
We need repentance to make grace possible.
And as the scripture shows us, in order to see Jesus and have the opportunity to follow Him, one must repent:
“repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, “and that He may send Jesus Christ, Who was preached to you before, “Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.Acts 3:19-21
Now let’s move on to see the definition of repentance:
Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible and humane life.
The practice of repentance plays an important role in the soteriological doctrines of the world’s major religion where it is considered necessary for the attainment of salvation.
In religious contexts it often involves an act of confession to a spiritual elder (such as a monk or priest).
This typically includes an admission of guilt, a promise or resolve not to repeat the offense; an attempt to make restitution for the wrong, or in some way to reserve the harmful effects of the wrong where possible.
Within a secular context repentance may form part of the process of psychological healing that takes place during a course of psychotherapy.
So if as a sinner, you have heard the call that Jesus is calling you today, take note of the above responses and make your own decisions.
Grace for the believers.
There has been a lot of confusion among believers over this issue of grace for free, such that when John Wesley gave a sermon titled “free grace”, George Whitefield wrote a letter against it.
After the unbeliever receives the grace and becomes a believer, he should get rid of his old self and put on a new one which is Christ’s:
That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.Ephesians 4:22-24
And after putting on the new man, the believer must continue doing good works, as we saw earlier, in the new life they have received and considers the old lifestyle as passed away.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.2 Corinthians 5:17
Now if we carefully seek the definition of the phrase ‘passed away’ as used in the above passage, we will come up with no other word than ‘dead’.
Thus a believer ought to consider himself dead to the old lifestyle he led as an unbeliever, and the grace he should be waiting for is the one which he will receive at the coming of Jesus Christ as peter observed in 1 Peter 1:13-16.
A believer has to give up a sinful lifestyle to obtain grace.
It is however sad that many believers misinterpret the new life to mean being freed from poverty and bad luck to live a life of wealth, joy and happiness.
But how can a believer claim he is living a new life when he still continues to do those same things he did while he was an unbeliever?
For if one was a drunkard or an adulterer/fornicator, after conversion, he has been recreated and taken away from that position and at such must never be found with alcohol or sleep again with someone’s husband/wife or men/women he or she is not married to.
And of course if he or she continues in such lifestyle, he or she has fallen away from the grace that was once given during conversion.
This is the same thing as saying that anybody who calls himself a Christian, but still continues to live the lifestyle he or she used to live; when they were not yet converted, has bypassed the first grace of God.
I mean that grace which was freely given during conversion and will never be able to grasp the last grace waiting for him after the resurrection.
This is why the scripture shows us that the same way Jesus died and took our sins away with Him to the cross, is the same way we too must die to sin in order to live for righteousness.
Who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-1 Peter 2:24.
How Adam and Eve lost the grace given during creation.
Now as believers, we need to have a proper understanding of why God sent Jesus to the world to die and made available to us this free grace.
First and foremost after God created everything on earth; He went on to create mankind and placed them in a position of grace.
That is they didn’t have to toil or till the ground for food; but rather play about and eat whatsoever they wanted, except one tree which will kill them if they do.
That position of grace is what we come to understand today as the Garden of Eden.
But after Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were driven away from the garden.
And in so doing, they lost what is grace according to the bible; and were cursed to suffer and go through pains before they could survive until they finally return to the dust which they were taken from.
After discovering this curses were beginning to take effect on them. And worst of all the garden they stayed before was not like where they inhabited.
Adam and Eve tried to find ways of making atonement; i.e to appease God until they finally settled for making offerings and sacrifices, which Cain and Abel is seen doing in Genesis 4.
This method was later adopted into our mother religion Judaism as we can see in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10.
But as the scripture therein helps us to understand, this sacrifice was unable to make that atonement for man’s sin.
Because in knowing that they will go back to God year by year to offer the sacrifice of atonement; the Jewish worshippers continued in sin after the purification.
And in so doing angered God the more, thus; this offerings and sacrifices was unable to purge mankind of their sins.
How God sent Jesus to come and die for grace.
So finally, God Himself found a way to give mankind a proper offering and sacrifice; which will keep them in awe of sinning.
But for this to be established, the former sacrifice of animals had to be abolished; since the new sacrifice will involve a human being who will be offered once and for all.
And as man used to be sprinkled with the blood of animals to be purified; they will now be sprinkled with the water of baptism, which symbolizes the blood of the One sacrificed.
That is why baptism is da once and for all thing after repentance. And not year by year as the sprinkling of animal’s blood in Judaism.
So finally, God’s own intention was fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, and so man now has to be baptized in His Name – once and for all – after deciding never to go back to his sinful ways, since baptism will never be available for him again.
That is why the bible says:
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:38.
Now after this baptismal washing, the victim as seen in the scripture above – in order to remain sanctified – will receive the Holy Spirit; who will act as a teacher and reminder of God’s words to the believer.
And in doing so enable him to abstain totally from sin; and continue in good works as well as escape the deception by people who twist the scriptures to destroy themselves.
Scriptures about the gift of the holy spirit.
“but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:26).
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot hear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak: and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:12-13).
These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in him. (1 John 2:26-27).
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.Galatians 5:16.
Grace as a second chance to repent of unintentional sins.
According to what is grace in the bible, there is always a second chance for a believer who sins unintentionally.
And this is because God Himself knows that human beings can never be that perfect.
So in case he -unknowingly, not on purpose, unexpectedly – commits a sin that he afterwards realize; he can then approach Him through the man Jesus and ask for pardon or forgiveness which he will get instantly.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin, And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.1 John 2:1
From here we can understand the work of the conscience that God gave to us.
Because it is in our conscience that the Holy Spirit alerts us when we are about to sin. And it is also in this conscience that we individually make a choice; either to go against what the Spirit warns us, or to obey him in totality.
Examples of how sin makes us fall from grace.
For example, you see a fine girl and make up your mind, even as a married man; to go and commit adultery with her.
But just then your conscience reminds you that it is sinful to do such thing. Now it is your final choice that will determine whether you will obey the Holy Spirit; by forgoing your plans of committing the adultery; or whether you will ignore Him and go ahead to commit the adultery.
And afterwards try to support your sinful ways by misquoting the scripture that God’s grace is available; and after you finish the act you will approach Him through Jesus and seek for pardon.
My brother, I assure you that before you even have the chance to go to God and seek your pardon; a venereal disease like STD, HIV etc. will catch up with you which will terminate your life in a short while.
In our second example, a born again brother, or one who claims so; sees something that belongs to somebody somewhere and plans to take it by way of stealing.
But just then his conscience alerts him that it is sinful to do such an act. But because he does not know what grace is according to the bible; he concludes that Jesus is always waiting to beg the Father on his behalf anytime he commits a sin.
And so he goes on to steal that thing, but just then the owner surfaces and begins to shout, Thief! Thief! and the brother tries to run but the mob catches and sets him ablaze with a tire.
Now tell me, how will he come back to approach the Jesus he thought was waiting?
How I wish he did not rely on the false concept of grace but listened to his conscience; he would have realized that Jesus, Who knew what will happen, was the voice in his conscience trying to forewarn him.
How the law is written in the human heart.
This is why the scripture helps us to know in Romans 2:15; that our conscience is the one who accuses and defends us; and it shows an example of how Gentiles, though not given the law physically has it written in their own hearts.
And for us believers, who have the law i.e the Holy Bible; the scripture shows us that it is not hearing the law that puts us right with God, but it is by obeying it.
(For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;Romans 2:13
In other words it is not those who know Jesus Christ and claim Him to be their personal Lord and savior that has salvation through what is grace according to the bible; but rather those who do the will of His Father, which is to obey His commands.
No wonder He said:
“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.Mathew 7:21
“If you love me keep my commandments. Jesus answered and said to him, ‘if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.John 14:15, 23.
Why you must always repent once you realize your sins.
Now there is one last point about sin that I will like to enlighten the believers.
There are times when you will -mistakenly- go against the words of God. But afterwards the Spirit will alert you about your mistake; and the reaction you take there and then determines your status of deserving God’s forgiveness.
Example you mistakenly pick a quarrel with someone; and afterwards the Holy Spirit points out to you that you have sinned.
Do you then go back to make peace with that person you quarreled with; or do you go ahead and stop exchanging words with him or her?
How Peter repented after denying Christ.
This example was seen in Peter’s case when he denied Jesus.
Even after Jesus had given him the word that he will do so; but Peter forgot the words of Jesus when the time came for him to deny Him.
After being alerted when the cock crew, Peter went somewhere and wept bitterly. Wonder why we do not realize that Peter’s tears symbolized repentance?
And that was why his restoration was immediate; and so was able to fulfill the promise he made to Jesus to go anywhere and die with him. (Check: Luke 22:31-34, 54-61).
What Paul really meant by grace according to the bible.
In order to know what Paul really meant by grace according to the bible; let us again consider the words of Peter about so many things in Paul’s letters that are hard to understand.
Those things which unstable and ignorant misinterpret to destroy; and with that arm ourselves with our method of interpreting the bible in its whole context.
The whole context of this sermon is Romans 5:12-21.
The above passage in its entirety tries to show us that the way God brought Adam’s punishment of death on all mankind, because they have all sinned; is the same way He will also give Jesus’s reward of eternal life to believers – even though they continue in their sinfulness.
But before we say so, let us never forget that, as the scripture records; it is not every human being that have experience the physical death.
People like Enoch (Genesis 5:21-22); and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11-12); who pleased God were taken away body and soul by God Himself.
Knowing this fact, why then do we jump to the conclusion that everyone has experienced death that came as a result of Adam’s sin; and that same way everybody will also receive eternal life that came as a result of Jesus righteousness?
Now let us examine the follow up chapter Romans 6:1-14 of the above scripture to arrive at our point:
I hope we can now see how this follow up passage condemns what the previous passage said?
And the greatest point we should note in the above scripture is that; our sinful nature died with Jesus on the cross.
It is our righteous nature that resurrected with him, and for that reason; we must totally live a new life which is blameless, faultless and so forth.
We must not continue in sin for grace to abound.
And never forget to note how Paul began the above passage: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who die to sin live any longer in it?
It is therefore necessary for us to be very careful while reading from the letter of Paul; as well as other scriptures so that we might not twist it to destroy ourselves.
So anyone who reads Romans 5:12-21 must also read the follow up chapter i.e. Romans 6:1-14 in order to be able to interpret the first passage properly.
From there he will be able to understand that we must follow in Jesus example; in order to present ourselves as instruments of righteousness to God.
Now the same Paul, who taught us what is grace according to the bible that Christians misinterpret; went on to tell us in his other epistles.
Abstain from every form of evil.1 Thessalonians 5:22.
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds. And have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of him who created him.Colossians 3:4, 5. 8-10.
Why you must consider judgement when thinking about what is grace according to the bible.
Now the eschatological teaching in Revelation 20:13 shows us that; we will all be judged by God according to our works.
And it specifically points out that this judgment will begin with us Christians.
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?1 Peter 4:17.
And you can now ask yourself: if God’s grace has been given to all and Jesus is doing every act of righteousness that needs to be done for mankind; why must all have to tremble again before God on the judgment day?
And if the church is where people who have salvation reside, why should judgment even begin there?
The 2 important bible verses about grace.
Finally, I held back this two passages, which Paul himself reveals what is grace accoding to the bible, so that after reading this sermon in details ,you might use them as a summary to have a better understanding of what grace really means.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawlessness deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous to good works.Titus 2:11-14
Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?Hebrew 10:28-29
Summary of what is grace according to the bible.
Finally the two scriptures above brings us to the understanding that the Judaism human beings were being forced by the law to obey the commandments of God; because of the physical punishments that were meted out to them when being caught and witnessed against by two to three persons.
But since grace is given to mankind for free; they are also meant to obtain it for free.
Which means that in Christianity there is no physical punishment that will be meted out to Christians if they break any of the laws therefore it is left for them to free willingly obey Gods commandment and in so doing obtain the grace from God for free.
And failure to do this will bring them into the fiercest of all witness and judgment which will be before God and not unstable human beings as was in Judaism.
With the deeper insight the Holy Spirit has revealed in this sermon to us, I hope Christians will reach the height of knowledge and stability as to abolish the misconception that; what is grace according to the bible is that the grace of God is available for them even if they are still continuing in their sin.
I pray especially for one ignorant and unstable believer; who told me once that Jesus had done all works of righteousness for us through His death.
And His duty now is to cover the Father’s eyes from being able to see our sins; and prevent Him from destroying us as we continue committing more sin day in day out.
To understand this sermon more better, you need to read a sub topic of this sermon; What Does Predestination Mean In The Bible.
Please share this sermon to enlighten a fellow believer and even an unbeliever.