For the past couple of months, we’ve been looking at the gospel found throughout the Old Testament, and today I’d like to look at the gospel, the good news of our salvation, through the lens of grace.
Doing a word search in the NASB, the word “grace” appears 122 times in the New Testament. Grace is typically defined as good will, loving-kindness, and favor. But the biblical significance of grace is so much more – it is the solitary means by which men and women are reconciled to our perfectly righteous Lord.
As we’ve touched upon previously, there are many instances in the Old Testament (especially the Torah or ‘Law’) that point to Christ as the Messiah or Savior. The Israelites were told to keep the law and commandments in order to be set apart (eg: made holy) from other nations, but this was never the means to salvation. Salvation was always through faith by God’s grace.
Early in the Apostle John’s gospel we see God’s plan of salvation-by-grace being revealed in Christ:
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)
It’s important to remember that Christ did not end the law given to Moses, but instead, by living a perfect, sinless life He fulfilled it completely for those who are saved by grace.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matt 5:17-18)
So, if Christ did not get rid of the law of Moses and it still stands today, albeit fulfilled in Him, isn’t there some kind of work or law we need to obey in order to earn or keep our standing with God?
This is where the splendor of God’s mercy comes to light! For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
God’s grace is so much more than just favor or good will… it is the means by which we are saved from sin and eternal separation from our Creator. Our salvation hangs on God’s grace, and nothing else.
Paul expounds on this gift of grace even more in Romans, where he writes: For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. (Romans 4:3-4)
God did not offer us grace because we did something good to obtain it, nor did He offer it with the expectation that we would sustain it through our works. It is a gift. All we have to do is repent and believe. (cf. Mark 1:15, Rom 3:28)
As we reflect on the good news of the Gospel, it is imperative that we consider grace. From Christ’s fullness we have obtained the gift of unmerited grace, a grace that covers our sins and reconciles us to God. It is not based on our works, otherwise God would owe it to us. Indeed it is a gift – one that we cannot earn or obtain by any other means than God’s preeminent goodness and mercy.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Eph 2:4-5)
When God offers salvation through faith alone, our only response should be to fall on our knees and accept it with a humble, penitent heart, and offer lives as a living sacrifice to a holy Savior.