Grace is often defined as 'favour' given to someone by God and this I think is a very good description of grace for the start of this discussion. In a wider sense grace is 'Jesus Christ living in us and the result and benefit of that in our lives'. But for now we can use the simpler definition, that Grace is God giving us favour!You see we have all 'missed the mark' where living up to God's standards is concerned and that has brought upon all mankind the death penalty. To have a better outcome than death we need the 'favour' of God!
Rom 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Since we know that we were all sinners (we missed the mark) and not deserving of any favours from God it behooves us if we want God's 'favour' to find out how we can receive it! To this end a good place to start is in the book of Romans...
Rom 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
The first thing we notice here is that we have access to God's grace by faith. And the second thing we notice is that it's God's grace that enables us to 'stand'. That is to do God's will and be obedient to him. We see that there is a sequence of events which leads to obedience. First comes faith; then comes grace; then comes obedience. And if you check on obedience in the New Covenant it's always obedience to the will of God. The Christian follows a person (the Holy Spirit) who is in him, who shows him God's will and God's command in all circumstances. He does not follow a written code.
This starts to make perfect sense when we read the statement about faith made by the writer of Hebrews in Heb 11:6.
Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.It's impossible to please God through any show of obedience that is of ourselves, apart from faith. Faith gives us access to grace and it's through grace that we are enabled to do God's will and be obedient to his commands. This is because it's God who works in us to do his will as Paul points out in the book to the Phillipians.
Phil 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
It's God, through the Holy Spirit (through whom Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father come to live in us) who provides both the will-power and the ability to do what is pleasing to him and righteous in his eyes. If we try to be obedient to God in our own power the result is well documented failure! We can see this writ large in Paul's letter to the Romans in chapter 7 verses 18-19.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
This is the result that will follow if anyone, Christian or not, attempts to be obedient to God or Law in their own power. Failure! But Paul gives us the solution in verses 24 and 25..
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The answer lies in reliance on Jesus Christ. In other words faith in Jesus.
Then with faith comes access to God's grace and 'God in us' works to will
and to do those good works that will please him!
David, probably thinking of the times of Abraham, says in Ps 32:1-2 that "Blessed is the man to whom God imputes no sin". Thus he recognises that the sinner is saved because of the 'favour' or grace of God. He recognises that the blessd man is the one to whom God lays no guilt or condemnation because of his sins, and who does not think in a fleshly way but according to God's spirit.
Psa 32:1-2 Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom Jehovah does not charge iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
David can look back on the life of Abraham, but we also have the evidence of Paul in Rom 8:1 - "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."
The scriptures effectively tell us that all those who called on the Lord and lived lives pleasing to God were put under grace because of their faith. Without faith they could not have pleased God, and without grace they could not have been obedient. It's grace (we are told in Tit 2:11-12), that teaches us to say 'No' to all ungodliness, and to live righteous and godly lives. Our necessary obedience grows out of grace and grace comes through faith. And since obedience is by grace we have nothing of which to boast!
We know of course that it is the Holy Spirit in us who is our guide and teacher and comforter and who brings to our remembrance the things we have learned of God and also teaches us new things so we can see the link between grace and Jesus Christ being in us through the Holy Spirit and the result of that in our lives.
Grace reigns in our lives through righteousness and this grace brings us salvation. We believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved.
Eph 2:4-9 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
So knowing the love that God has for us, let us live by faith in God and access the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is able to save us. Let us maintain fellowship with the Holy Spirit and build the kind of relationship with God that was exemplified by the men and women of faith who went before us. Let us walk in faith and live by grace.
Then we will truly apprehend that the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And there is no condemnation now for those who are in Christ Jesus.
May the love of God and the grace of out Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all forever.