Grace  – Unmerited Divine Favor

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work. (2Co 9:8 WEB)

The word grace is used over 100 times in the New Testament. That alone should tell you how important grace is to a believer. And there is an abundance of grace available to believers, as the above verse says.  The above verse says that with grace abounding to us, we have everything we need to abound in every good work!

In the Scripture grace is the Greek word charis which simply means favor or benefit.  Interestingly Merriam-Webster gives the word three definitions. The first one is:

“unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification”

This is a definition I’ve heard given by people in the pulpit, and with good reason. Look at this:

for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Eph 2:8 WEB)

Ephesians 2:8 addresses that our salvation has been given by grace, and it emphasizes that we didn’t earn it, it is a gift. This verse clearly supports the Merriam-Webster definition. Because we didn’t earn it it’s unmerited. Becoming saved is being regenerated, or made whole, which is the definition of saved. Merriam-Webster’s added term, “sanctification”, which can be seen here in Scripture:

Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God. (1Co 6:11 WEB)

When we become saved, we are sanctified which means set apart for God’s purposes. The verse above says that we are also justified. There’s a Christianese term that’s pretty handy, justified means “just as if I’d never sinned”. Justified means made innocent. So now we have both sanctification and justification that we didn’t earn. It’s by grace! It’s unmerited divine favor! There’s more:

and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that don’t exist, that he might bring to nothing the things that exist, that no flesh should boast before God. Because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: (1Co 1:28-30 WEB)

First Corinthians 1 adds to what we get in our salvation package; we also get wisdom from God, righteousness, and redemption.

Everything we’ve discussed so far is by grace. We are redeemed, made righteous, justified, given wisdom, sanctified, and all of it because of God’s favor towards us without us having to earn any of it.

However, there was a price to pay for all of these great things from God. According to the law of God, the price to pay for sin is death. But, Jesus paid the price.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” (Gal 3:13 WEB)

How Do We See Grace Manifested in our Lives?

We see grace manifested in our lives every day as we endeavor to walk with God. For one thing, our lives are constantly being challenged by the adversary, trying to seduce and deceive us. Sin is all around us and a constant challenge.

For as through the one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one, many will be made righteous. The law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly; that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 5:19-21 WEB)

Grace reigns in our lives in the righteousness that Jesus Christ our Lord made available. God’s grace helps us overcome sin.

You see, in the final redemption, with the return of our Lord, we shall have new bodies that won’t be tempted as we are now.  First, here is Scripture about the return of the Lord.

For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. (1Th 4:15-17 WEB)

And here is Scripture about our new bodies.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown perishable; it is raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However that which is spiritual isn’t first, but that which is natural, then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let’s also bear the image of the heavenly. (1Co 15:42-49 WEB)

This Scripture says our current bodies were made in the image of the first Adam, a sinner. Our new bodies will be made in the image of our Savior, the man who conquered sin and death.

We can’t forget that with all these great verses talking about so many things the topic of this article is grace. And everything that we’re talking about here; God’s grace to us now, being resurrected or risen into the air with Jesus, and being transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ is by grace!

Grace abounds to us in our lives now in that we are redeemed, sanctified, glorified, and justified. God’s grace abounds to us that we will be like our Lord Jesus Christ in our new bodies.

God’s Power is Made Perfect in Weakness

God’s grace abounds towards us when we are weak.  Look at this example of Paul and how he talks about how great the grace of God has been in his life.

By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively. Concerning this thing, I begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me. He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore, I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong. I have become foolish in boasting. You compelled me, for I ought to have been commended by you, for in nothing was I inferior to the very best apostles, though I am nothing. (2Co 12:7-11 WEB)

Paul lived a mighty, mighty life in Christ, not the least of which is all the revelations he got which is where we got the epistles he wrote. But, as the above verses say, he realized that he became foolish in boasting. So, he was given, or it was allowed for a messenger of Satan to torment him. He had a problem with somebody or something about something that was annoying him. The great and mighty Paul the apostle prayed three times for this to be removed from him. And, his prayer was not answered the way we might expect. The answer to his prayer was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Then Paul makes the most amazing statement to me. “Therefore, I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.” He said he takes pleasure in all of those painful, distressful things. Weaknesses, injuries, needs, persecutions, distresses all are things that Paul said he took pleasure in because he saw the strength of God in action, the grace of God in action.

When we are weak, injured, persecuted, distressed, or in need, the grace of God kicks in. God’s strength takes over. Our sufficiency is insufficient, but God sufficiency comes through. That’s the grace of God in action. (See Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh was Allowed to Show the Power of Grace and Our Dependence on God for more.)

We need to take pleasure and follow the example of Paul and not take pleasure in the torments per see but in seeing the grace and power of God work in our lives

The Cheerful Giver Condition

I want to be careful to talk about this next part without making it appear that there is a case for grace being conditioned upon works, because it’s not. Let’s look at these verses:

Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work. (2Co 9:7-8 WEB)

The promise here is phenomenal! “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work”.  How awesome is that?

All sufficiency in everything! Abounding to every good work! Isn’t that something we all want in our lives? I know it is something that I want.

But there is a condition. And the condition is a cheerful, giving heart. This isn’t the law, there is no set amount. There is no requirement of a tithe, there’s no requirement for a lamb of the first year or any of the quantity requirements in the law.  There are no works required for this grace, just a cheerful heart when giving whatever it is that we have to give.

And, in fact, Paul teaches that giving isn’t supposed to make the ministers richer while you become poorer:

For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have. For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed, but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack; that there may be equality. (2Co 8:12-14 WEB)

Paul is teaching in this section on giving that we are not expected to give away the rent money, the food money, the utility money, etc. And, he talks about an equality where “your abundance” supplies the minister’s lack while the minister’s abundance supplies your lack. The conclusion is that people who work for earnings share of the money that they have over what they need to provide for their basic needs and their budget, while the ministers share of the abundance they have received spiritually. Thus there is equality.

Still, some giving is required, and it must be done with a cheerful heart. And that’s on both sides.

This is an awesome insight into how the grace of God works in people’s lives. People give cheerfully of what they have.  And, the more you can sow, the more you can reap:

Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2Co 9:6 WEB)

So we need to keep uppermost in our minds that part of grace abounding towards us so that we have everything we need to do every good work is having a cheerful heart and to keep sowing as much as we can cheerfully.

This is been an article on grace, God’s favor to us.  It is undeserved as we didn’t do anything to earn it. By grace, we have been saved. By grace, we have received sanctification, justification, righteousness, and more. By grace, our sins are not held against us. By grace, God works with us to keep us on track like he did with Paul and his thorn in the flesh. In working with God’s grace we need to be cheerful givers. And God’s grace can abound towards us so that we can have everything we need to do every good work.

(c) copyright 2023 Mark W Smith All rights reserved. Last revised 11/6/2023

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