society emphasizes that we must earn our rewards. We train for
sporting achievements, work for wages, study for ualifications.
In contrast, the Bible teaches that we cannot earn salvation,
no matter how many good deeds we do. We are totally
reliant on God’s grace.
The parable of the Lost Son is a lesson to us
about God’s grace and compassion. The father
showed compassion despite his son’s bad record.
Similarly, if we are repentant, God will show us
mercy and not treat us as our sins deserve.
1. How did the lost son deserve to be treated?
2. Why did the father show compassion?
3. How did the older son feel when the younger
son was treated with compassion?
Grace means “undeserved favour”. God shows
grace by forgiving our sins, adopting us as his
children, and not treating us as we deserve. As
He does not treat us as our sins deserve or
repay us according to our iniquities. For as
high as the heavens are above the earth, so
great is his love for those who fear him.
Our need for God’s grace
To understand God’s grace, we must first understand
sin separates us from God. Isaiah writes,
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor
his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated
you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from
you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1–2)
It is important that we appreciate how much God hates sin,
and how seriously our sin affects the relationship we have
him. See Chapter 17. Sin. This applies even though we try to do the right thing,
because we still are guilty of some wrongdoing. David said
You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the
wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your
presence; you hate all who do wrong. (Psalm 5:4–5)
Although we are separated from God as sinners, there is a
that we can be reconciled to God. God has provided a way for
our sins to be covered, or cleansed, so that we can be restored
to him. There is no way that we can cover our own sins. God
has determined that sins can only be forgiven by the offering
of a sacrifice and repentance. In Old Testament times, animal
sacrifices were offered, but these were not sufficient. When
Jesus came, he lived his life in complete obedience to God
and then suffered and died on the cross. He was the perfect
sacrifice, offered for our sin.
God’s gracious gift to us is the opportunity to be saved
sins. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus our sins can be covered
so that we are made sinless before God. Even though we are
dirty with sin, because of God’s grace we can be forgiven
cleansed. He says “Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow”.
What a contrast!
Justified by his grace
For those whose sins are covered by the sacrifice of Jesus,
no longer counts their sins against them. Instead, they are "credited” with righteousness. In Romans, Paul
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as
righteousness. (Romans 4:3)
It was because of Abraham’s belief, not his good works,
God regarded him as righteous. Similarly, for us it is faith,
good works, that allow us to be considered as righteous before
To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies
the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.
To be “justified” means the same as being regarded
We can be justified only through God’s grace.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus
Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all
sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified
freely by his grace through the redemption that came by
Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22–24)
Regardless of how terrible our sins are, they can still be
and forgiven through God’s grace if we are truly repentant.
When we accept God’s grace, we receive forgiveness so
can put our sins behind us. We no longer feel burdened with
guilt because we are right with God.
Salvation by grace:
|Acts 15:11; Romans 3:22–24; 4:1–5; 5:1–2,15–21; 11:5–6; Ephesians 1:7; 2:5–9; Titus 2:11; 3:7.
God’s abundant grace:
|Psalm 103:10–11; 2 Corinthians 9:8,14; 1 Timothy 1:14; Hebrews 4:16.
Showing grace in our lives:
|Matthew 18:21–35; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6; Hebrews 13:9; James 4:6; 2 Peter 3:18.
Relying on grace rather than works
We need to be continually reminded that it is not our good
deeds or our scriptural knowledge that will save us. It is
matter of performing sufficient good works in our life to
us a place in God’s kingdom. Nor can we perform enough
works to compensate for the bad things that we do.
God requires that we confess our sins and accept his grace.
Rather than trying to earn salvation by our works, our works
should be motivated by gratitude to God for his grace toward
When we realise that our works cannot save us, we may be
tempted to stop doing good and start doing whatever we feel
like. The apostle Paul warned first century believers against
being tempted to sin more to receive more grace. He asked,
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that
grace may increase? By no means! (Romans 6:1–2)
God will not let us take his grace for granted!
Expressing gratitude for his grace
There are at least three ways we can show gratitude to God.
1. We should thank God in prayer for his gift of salvation.
2. We should “sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
gratitude in our hearts to God”. Colossians 3:16
3. We should show grace to others. In the parable of the “Unforgiving Servant” we read of God’s attitude to those who
have received grace but have not shown grace themselves. Matthew 18:23–35.
See Chapter 46.
Parables of the
We are instructed to be imitators of God. This requires us
show grace to others and to grow in grace. Ephesians 5:1 This can be in
speech, our strength of character, our forgiveness of others
in all other aspects of our lives.
God’s gift of grace is freely offered to us. We must
the decision to accept or reject that gift. Accepting God’s
involves a number of steps:
1. Believing that God exists;
2. Acknowledging that we are sinners;
3. Repenting of our sin;
4. Having faith that we can be saved through Jesus;
5. Being baptised;
6. Receiving forgiveness for our sins;
7. Living a new life focused on God.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and
this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
1. Read 2 Peter 3:18. How can we grow in grace?
2. Read Hebrews 4:15–16. Why can we approach the throne
of grace with confidence?
3. Read Hebrews 10:26–31. What is it about deliberate
that insults the Spirit of grace?
1. Read Romans 12:6–8. Part of God’s grace to
us is that he
has blessed us with various gifts of ability. What gifts has
God given you?
2. Read John 1:14. Jesus is described as being full of grace
(a) What does this mean?
(b) What examples can you think of that show he was
full of grace?
(c) How is grace connected with truth?
(d) Who else is described as “full of grace”?
3. List some examples from the Old Testament that show
God’s abundant grace and mercy.
• The new life by John Marshall (published by The Christadelphian,
1971). Chapter 20: “The forgotten doctrine”.
• In the grip of grace by Max Lucado (published by Word
Publishing, 1996). A thought-provoking and very readable
book. Note that the author believes Jesus is God, which
spoils the book in places although it does not alter its
29. Forgiving one another
35. The sacrifice of Jesus