The word for grace (Greek charis) appears only eight times in the Gospel of Luke, three times in the Gospel of John, not at all in the Gospels of Mark or Matthew and is not spoken by Jesus. However, the word appears many times in the epistles.
What is grace? A popular definition is "unmerited favor." Another definition might be: "something we need but do not deserve." We certainly need a savior, forgiveness, and God's love, but we do not deserve these on our own merit.
Some folks imagine that they don't need God. Others think they do all right in the righteousness department—they feel they are good people and are good "because that is the right thing to do." However, an appreciation for God's grace can motivate us to serve the Lord with the proper motives and in ever-increasing ways.
We see Amazing Grace when we: See how awful sin is. "Sin" means "to miss the mark." "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In Romans chapter one we see that sin has touched every aspect of each person. The physical: "Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them" (v. 24) . The Emotional: "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…" (v. 26). And the Intellectual: "God gave them over to a depraved mind" (v. 28). Our bodies and hearts should be used for God and for good (Romans 6:12-13; 1 Corinthians 6:20, etc.)!
Sin has social consequences (Romans 1:29-31) and worse, eternal consequences (Romans 1:32; 2:1-10).
We see Amazing Grace when we understand the magnitude of God's sacrifice for sin! "And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). Consider what sin did to the sinless Son of God: "But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9; see 2 Corinthians 5:21). The prophet Isaiah foretold of the suffering Jesus would endure for our sakes (Isaiah 53).
We must also appreciate the salvation God offers in Christ Jesus. Notice Paul's attitude of himself in light of sin:
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
—1 Timothy 1:15-16
Was Paul literally the foremost (worst) of all sinners? Perhaps not, but his attitude is the right one: we don't deserve Jesus' sacrifice — God's grace — on the basis of our own righteousness. By the way, Paul is an example of how God can save someone who is a sinner and doesn't realize it. God could save Paul because he had an honest heart. Paul had tried to destroy the Lord's church (Acts 8:1-3; 9:1), but he did it because he thought it was the right thing to do. After he became a Christian he said: "I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day" (Acts 23:1). When Paul found out that he was wrong he repented and was baptized to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16), and went on to preach the gospel to many and to become an example of how God's grace can work in the rest of us as well: "Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:16).
Salvation is "grace unto you." (1 Peter1:5-12). In other words, salvation is receiving God's grace (2 Corinthians 6:1-2). The result of salvation is the deliverance from the power and spiritual consequences of sin!
Are you saved? Have you received God's amazing grace? Read the following passages in your Bible and do what God says to do: Believe (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10), Repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19), Confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32; Acts 8:37), and Be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:21).
David Carl Swanson