God's Grace And Man's Response


      At the heart of Christianity is the grace of God. Paul wrote to Christians at Ephesus and said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10.)


      Grace Demonstrates How God feels about us. God is love. "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (I John 4:8.) Be­cause God's nature is love He looks upon us, His creation, with goodwill and unmerited favor. Unmerited favor is "grace."


      When we were sinners, unworthy and undeserving, God sent Jesus to die for us. "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:6-8.) God is good, providing what we need not what we deserve.  We deserve hell but need salvation. Salvation is provided by God's grace.


      Our sins separated us from God. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2.) "Christ receiveth sinful men." And that is exactly what grace is. Our sins made us unworthy and we are still unworthy except for the grace of God.


      Grace explains God's actions for us. God's plan for our salvation was accomplished by His grace. Jesus is the source of God's grace and truth. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17.) God's grace is available to all for salvation. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,  teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12.)


      On the cross the one who knew no sin died for sinners. There is no greater demonstration of grace than the cross. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (II Corinthians 5:21.) Jesus died so we might live. He suffered for sins that we might not have to suffer the ultimate penalty for our sins. That is God's "amazing grace."


      Each time we see or pick up the Bible we should be reminded of God's grace because the Bible is called the "word of God's grace." Paul and his companions preached "the word of His grace." "Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands." (Acts 14:3.) Paul commended Christians to the word of God's grace. "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." (Acts 20:32.) In our singing, grace in our heart is connected with the word of God. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teach­ing and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16.) Without the Bible we would not know the wonderful story of salvation, which is the story of God's grace.


      The Christian life is also a demonstration of God's grace. It is God's grace which produces a righteous life. "So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:21.) It is God's grace which blesses you and helps you in your struggle against sin. Acceptable service to God is an outgrowth of grace. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." (Hebrews 12:28.) With Paul let us say, "But by the grace of God I am what I am..." (I Corinthians 15:10.)


      Grace demands man's response. What a person is or is not is determined by his response to God's grace. Each individual is responsible to love, honor, obey and serve God. Man's response to God should be humble obedience. "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedi­ence by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." (Hebrews 5:8-9.)


      Because God has done so much for us He can reasonably expect our love in return. How man's failure to obey must grieve the heart of the Creator. "But to Israel he says: All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people." (Romans 10:21.)


      Our response to God's grace is not a single act or decision, but a lifetime response. Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20.) Two elements are at work in our salvation: (1) God's grace is ex­tended, and (2) man responds in loving obedi­ence.


      God wants what is best for us in this life and in eternity. By accepting the gospel of Christ and living soberly, righteously and godly man can enjoy everlasting fellowship with God by His grace.


      God made us with the power of choice. We are not robots. By God's grace man has the power to choose the course of his life. What choice are you making? Are you choosing God or Satan? "Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I com­mand you today, to go after other gods which you have not known." (Deuteronomy 11:26-28.)


            To become a Christian, God requires you to hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Acts 2:38), confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and to be baptized to wash away sins (Acts 22:16). Having obeyed the gospel you are saved by the grace of God! After conversion, "keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." (Jude 21.)   


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551 Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA