What is Grace?
Have a look at 1 Corinthians 1 and see what grace has done in the lives of the Corinthians. Through this you will understand something of what God means by grace.
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true.7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Who is the source of grace?
- How does it come to us?
- What has been received by grace in the lives of the Corinthians?
- What is the end result that God is looking for having given grace?
- What do you think motivates such generosity from God?
Grace overflows from Jesus
The whole point about grace is that it comes from God, and it is not portioned out by a miser. We have a sense of this from looking at Jesus.
John 1:14-18 14 So the Word became human* and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.* And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. 15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” 16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.*17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,* is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
- What characterised Jesus in terms of grace?
- What is the impact on us that Jesus is full of grace and truth?
Grace – God at work
Let’s look at a passage where Paul uses it in a few different ways. Let’s see what can be made of grace here. The passage is 1 Corinthians 15:9-11
1 Corinthians 15:9-11 9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. 10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favour on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.
- What had God’s grace done to him?
- What did God’s grace enable him to do?
Go to Jesus for Grace
Grace is not received automatically.
Hebrews 4:14-16 14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
- How do we receive grace in our times of trouble?
- How does Jesus’ experience help us?
We live at a time when people look very cynically at what is freely given. Here we look at God’s motivations.
Ephesians 2:4-10 4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
- With what heart attitude has God done all for us?
- How does God’s gift compare with what we deserve?
- What does God hope will be the outcome of all that He has done for us?
Grace is Sufficient
Sometimes we are hard pressed in life. We wonder where God is. It may be that the issues are bigger than we can see.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong
- How were God’s purposes different from Paul’s?
- How different from ours?How has Paul received grace in this passage?
- How could you experience such grace?