In this sermon, Pastor Neil defines and gives a description of grace. It is unearned, freely given to those who can’t earn it and don’t deserve it. Here are some excerpts:
Here is one of the simplest and best ways to define grace: Grace is the favor shown by God to undeserving sinners (See Lee Strobel, The Case for Grace, 9). In his book What’s So Amazing about Grace? Philip Yancey calls grace “the last best word.” He writes that “grace is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism, stronger than hate.” Grace is the best gift the Christian faith can offer to the world, because it is God’s best gift to us.
Without grace, there is no way to be saved, no way to be forgiven of our sins, no way to be made right with God, no way to have peace with God. Without grace, there is no way to be released from the prison of our sin and guilt, no way to have the hope of heaven when this earthly life is over, and no way to forgive others when they hurt us or do wrong to us in some way.
The Bible is clear: We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. This is what Paul says in his classic exposition on salvation by grace in Ephesians 2: “Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us (spiritually) alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions [sins] – it is by grace you have been saved” (2:5). “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (2:8-9).
Not only are we saved by grace, we live each day by grace, as recipients of the grace that saves us and strengthens us, that protects us from harm and provides for our spiritual well- being, that changes us bit by bit, step by step (sometimes three steps forward and two steps back) more and more into the likeness of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:29), and that prompts us and enables us to show grace to others who, like us, don’t deserve it and never will.
In his quest to understand and experience grace, Yancey discovered that “grace comes free of charge to people who don’t deserve it, and I am one of those people.” Me, too! I am one of those people. So are you. We do not deserve grace. By definition it is undeserved. If you deserve it, it isn’t grace. Grace is not earned. It is given.
We don’t deserve to have our sins forgiven, nor do we deserve to have peace with God. We don’t deserve the grace we receive from other people. That is the nature of grace. It comes free of charge to people who don’t deserve it and never will. Like you and me. This may not be a formal definition of grace, but it is a beautiful description of what grace is – a gift – and how it works.