Grace: Favor for the Undeserving

'Wounds of Grace,' an original watercolor by Ralph F. Wilson, 10 x 14 in.
'Wounds of Grace,' an original watercolor by Ralph F. Wilson, 10 x 14 in.

Nearly every world religion teaches that you have to work for your salvation. If you work hard enough and are good enough, then you'll make it.

  • Islam -- a Muslim's good works must outweigh the bad.
  • Judaism -- righteousness comes from strict obedience to the Law.
  • Buddhism -- Nirvana is achieved only by enlightenment and meticulous practice.
  • Hinduism -- a multitude of gods must be appeased through some kind of ritual.
  • American popular religion -- if you do more good than bad, you'll go to heaven.

Only in true, biblical Christianity are we taught that God sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins, so that if we believe in him, we'll be saved. It is all God's grace -- God's favor for the utterly undeserving. Our only part is to believe in our hearts that Christ is Lord. That is astonishing!

Grace is central to our understanding of God and Christ, a core theme of both Old and New Testaments. The Greek word charis ("grace") appears 152 times in the New Testament. And in the Gospels, the words "love," "mercy," and "compassion" teach the same wonderful truths about our Lord's giving nature.

In September 2014, I was privileged to bring 15 messages on grace to pastors gathered for the African Renewal Conference in Eldoret, Kenya. Here is a distillation of those messages. Together we will explore all the classic Bible passages on grace. Week by week, we'll examine and soak ourselves in their truths. Though there is some overlap, each lesson looks at a different aspect of God's grace. As you ponder these verses, you'll find your soul refreshed. In the final lessons we'll seek to learn how we Christians -- we who have received so much grace -- can live lives that deliberately dispense God's grace to others: gracious living and ministry.

The message of grace is crystal clear in the Bible. Predestination and foreknowledge, on the other hand, are only vaguely understood. People argue about how much is God's part and how much is man's part in salvation. We learn from comparing contrasting positions. However, rather than enter deeply into the controversy in these lessons, I've decided to focus on the clear Scripture teachings on grace. The more controversial issues are not ignored, but probed in an appendix to help you better understand the issues involved.

Over the next nine weeks, I invite you to explore grace with me as we delve deeply into the Scriptures, bathing in God's Word, and learning heart lessons from the Spirit. We will be richer for it.


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Here is an outline of the lessons and some of the Scripture passages we'll explore.

  1. Our Gracious God (1 Peter 5:10; Exodus 34:6-7; Hosea 1-3)
  2. Grace That Is Wildly Undeserved (Romans 5:6-8; Ephesians 2:1-5)
  3. Jesus: Full of Grace and Truth (John 1:14-17; 3:16-18)
  4. Balancing Grace and Law (Romans 3:21-26)
  5. Balancing Grace and Good Works (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  6. Grace to Believe and Persevere (Romans 8:28-30; 1 Peter 1:4-5)
  7. Grace in Time of Need (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
  8. Grace and Ministry (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
  9. A Grace-Filled Way of Life (Luke 6:27-28; Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 5:5-7)

Sign up today before you forget. There is no charge; it is absolutely free. You'll receive your first lesson on January 13, 2023, a Friday, and complete the study a couple of weeks before Easter.

 

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Copyright © 2022, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.