Grace, “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense,” is His unmerited gift of salvation, and it is central to the gospel of Christ. Justice calls for the punishment of all men because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But God, because of His love for mankind, chooses to be gracious and offer salvation to those who obey Him. Paul says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus, salvation is by grace through faith.
The Greek word that New Testament writers chose to describe God’s unmerited favor is charis, which had as its root meaning that which is beautiful, lovely, attractive, and charming. It implies the idea of favor or special kindness shown to another. Graciousness is part of the inner beauty that should mark every Christian’s life. Paul said, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6), and “let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).
Paul had a deepened sense of grace because he had changed from being a persecutor of the church to becoming a preacher of the gospel. “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). As he faced imprisonment for his faith, he told the elders of the church at Ephesus, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Paul preached God’s grace because he understood that man was unable to earn God’s forgiveness by his own merit, since all men are sinners (Romans 3:23). Because of His gracious love, however, God acted and sent Christ to sacrifice Himself for mankind. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The cross of Christ, the world’s greatest display of love and grace, appeals to the heart of the penitent sinner. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
—Bob Prichard, P. O. Box 3071, Oxford, AL 36203
via House to House, Volume 11, Number 6, Page 5