Let’s look at some of the different aspects of the definition of what “Grace” is, as this will help us better understand the grace of God.
- Grace is commonly defined as the Unmerited Favour of God, but it is more than just an “Unmerited Favour”. This “Unmerited Favour” is clearly seen with regards to our salvation from our sinful nature and the kindness of God’s mercy towards us under the New Covenant. Grace is therefore the undeserved gift of eternal life and the goodness of God, freely given to us because of His unconditional love and not because of our merit.
We were wretched and helpless sinners, who were alienated from the commonwealth of the Kingdom of God (the Kingdom of His Son), and were enemies in our minds because of our evil behaviour and evil works (Colossians 1:20-22, Ephesians 2:12, 19).
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” – (Romans 3:23).
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” – (Romans 6:23).
The penalty for sin is eternal death and separation from God. We became sinners by nature of the flesh through the disobedience of Adam, the first man in the garden of Eden, when he disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that the LORD instructed him not to eat from, least he die.
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” – (Genesis 2:15-17).
“Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned….For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” – (Romans 5:12, 17).
This act of Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death to all humanity. However, because of the love of God, He gave His only begotten Son to take our place on the cross and die for us, so we can take His place and be reconciled back to God and live.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” – (John 3:16 ESV).
It is like the story of a certain thief, who was so frustrated by the lack of a job and money that he walked into a church with the intention of robbing the church’s offerings and the congregants. He fired a warning shot into the air and commanded everyone to lie on the floor with their wallets and handbags in front of them. While he walked through collecting wallets, handbags, mobile phones etc, some of the young men realized he was working alone, so they attempted to overpower him. But the thief fired his weapon to scare them off, shooting and killing someone by accident. He was eventually overpowered and arrested.
Now he is brought before the judge in the court of law with four charges; murder, theft, possession of an unlicensed weapon and disruption of peace, if found guilty, his judgment will be the death penalty. After all proceedings of indictment he is found guilty of all charges, but the Judge in the course of rendering his judgement of conviction and sentencing, discovered that the accused is the same age as his own son and that they both attended the same school and graduated the same year. Suddenly the judge recognizes him; he was a good friend to his son. The judge took a look at the accused again and felt broken in his heart that sentencing him to death was like sentencing his own son to death, so instead of giving him the death penalty he decided to show mercy to him and said, ‘You Are Free!’ But not only did the Judge show mercy to him and set him free, he declared that had this man a good job and money, he would not have attempted robbery in the first place. So the judge added favour and ordered that from the treasury, $10,000 be given to him from the tax payers’ money to start a small scale business and begin a new life with his family.
According to the law the thief deserved to die, but the judge showed mercy and favour, giving to him what he did not deserve; that is, to live and begin a new life.
This is exactly what grace has done for us. It is the undeserved favour of God’s mercy that is lavishly given to us in Christ Jesus, who has redeemed us and made us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Grace is God’s kindness that is generously and extravagantly given to man. Grace is not MERIT, but MERCY. God’s grace is an extension of His mercy to mankind.
Grace means getting what we do not deserve (Eternal Life).
Mercy means not getting what we deserve (Eternal Death).
The Lord Jesus Christ was accused because of my wrong, and murdered on the cross where He took my punishment and died in my place so I could live.
The grip of eternal death and separation from God was upon us as the powers of darkness and hell broke loose. We were doomed for destruction, but God stepped in and gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as the living sacrifice, and He took our place on the cross as the sins of the world were laid upon Him, all because of love.
The heaven rolled back in silence as His Body hung there. He cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? He took His last breath and gave up the ghost (Matthew 27:45-50). He gave it all for me as He died on the cross.
His fleshly body was laid in the grave for three days, but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18). Death could not hold Him captive, even in the grave, as the heaven declared Him alive. The Father uttered His voice from the throne, Come Forth! Hell was silent and darkness was rolled back. He rose from the grave and He is alive forevermore! He rose and conquered death and hell for us.
“I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” – (Revelation 1:18).
Grace has brought immortality to us. Sin and Death have lost the battle over us. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
How amazing is His GRACE. Indeed, He is mighty to save. His love has overcome for us.
He loves us so much that He died for us. His love is of unimaginable proportion. He does not love us because we are lovable or because we deserve His love.
“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” – (Romans 5:8).
Grace is love and mercy given to us by God, not because of anything we have done to earn it. It is a free gift, but yet it cost God everything. Grace is free, but not common and cheap. The value of grace cannot be equated by anything on earth. Grace is immeasurable. We must be very careful that we do not frustrate and devalue the grace of God because of our wrong perception of the greatness and eminence of this grace.
We are SAVED by GRACE.
“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).
- Grace is a PERSON.
God’s grace is not an abstract concept or a thing. Grace is more than a doctrine. Grace is the embodiment of God in the flesh revealed and given to mankind through Christ Jesus.
Grace is a PERSON. Jesus Christ is God’s grace personified.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” – (John 1:1).
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…..Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” – (John 1:14, 16, 17).
The gospel of John introduces Jesus as the Word, which is also God. This Word which is Jesus, the eternal Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us and He was “full of Grace” and Truth. God appeared to us as Jesus in the flesh walking around as the face of God’s grace, and from His fullness we have all received grace. Jesus is the fullness of this grace.
“For the Grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” – (Titus 2:11).
Paul declares here that the Grace of God has appeared to all men, bringing salvation to them. We know clearly from the gospel of John chapter 1 that Jesus Christ is the one that came from the Father in heaven, becoming flesh and made His dwelling among us to bring salvation.
The ‘Grace of God’ is ‘Jesus Christ’.
Grace is a Person – Grace is Christ living in and through us.
* We are Saved by Grace (Ephesians 2:5) = We are Saved by Jesus (2 Timothy 1:9).
* We are Justified by Grace (Romans 3:24) = We are Justified by Jesus (Romans 4:25).
* Grace provides Salvation to all men (Titus 2:11) = Jesus is the Savior of all men (1 Timothy 4:10).
The Grace of God is a mystery that we may not fully understand, because it is God wrapped in the flesh and lavishly given to us in the person of Christ Jesus. There is no searching of God’s grace, because God is unsearchable. He can only be revealed to us by revelation. This is why we cannot fully comprehend grace. Grace is a mystery in itself.
God is Indescribable. Grace is Indescribable.
It takes Revelation to Know God. It takes Revelation to Know Grace.
To Know God is to Know Grace. To Know Grace is to Know God.
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” – (2 Peter 1:2).
To the extent to which we know Jesus, we receive and enjoy God’s grace, because Jesus is the embodiment of God’s grace that is given to us.
- Grace is the Gospel of Christ, which is the Power of God.
We cannot preach “Grace” without preaching “Christ”, and we cannot preach “Christ” without preaching “Grace”, because “Grace” and “Christ” are synonymous. They are the same.
“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. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more” – (Acts 20:24-25).
Paul the apostle in his farewell speech to the Ephesian Elders called “the Grace of God” the “Good News” which he went about preaching and referring to as “the gospel of the Kingdom of God”.
The grace of God is the gospel of the Kingdom – The gospel of the Kingdom is the Grace of God. The Grace of God, which is the “Good News” of the Kingdom, is the gospel of Christ.
The primary gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of the kingdom. There is no other gospel (Good News) that Jesus preached apart from the gospel of the kingdom, which is the grace of God that appears to all men bringing salvation (Redemption and Restoration).
When the Lord Jesus came to earth, His first proclamation was; repent for the Kingdom of God is here. This was the only message He preached and He declared that this is the purpose for which He was sent by the Father. This was also the message He commissioned His disciples (apostles) as He sent them out to preach.
“From then on, Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, because the Kingdom from heaven is near!” – (Matthew 4:17 ISV).
“”And He (Jesus) said unto them, I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent” – (Luke 4:43).
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” – (Matthew 4:23).
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” – (Matthew 9:35).
“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” – (Mark 1:14-15).
“And it came to pass afterward, that He went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God: and the twelve were with Him” – (Luke 8:1).
“Then He called His twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them to preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick” – (Luke 9:1).
“These twelve (apostles) Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying….And as ye go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of heaven is at hand” – (Matthew 10:5, 7).
The central theme of the message of the kingdom of God is “JESUS”. The Kingdom is about the King that has come to establish His Kingdom (reign) here on earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:11). Jesus is the King.
We must be very careful that we do not misconstrue God’s word and drift from the focus of Jesus Christ as the center of it all, because Grace is a Person – Jesus Christ.
If we miss the focus of Jesus in the gospel message, which is the Grace of God that has appeared to mankind, then we have lost the essence of the message, and have not preached the gospel (Good News). The gospel must be christocentric. Christ should be the center and the only focus of the message. Whenever the message of the Kingdom is preached it must activate the Christ in us, which is the Grace of God, and release us into the reality of our new creation in Him. Any gospel message and revelation that is preached which obscures this truth is inaccurate and false, because it obscures God’s self revelation to us. Grace is the embodiment of God in the flesh that is revealed and given to mankind through Christ Jesus.
We have earlier established the truth that “Grace is a Person”. Jesus is the grace of God. This Grace of God is the gospel of the Kingdom. This Grace of God (Jesus) which is the “Good News” of the Kingdom is also known as the gospel of Christ.
Paul the apostle preached the gospel of Christ’s grace, and in his letter to the Church in Rome, he boldly declared that this gospel (Good News) of Christ is the power of God.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel (Good News), because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” – (Romans 1:16 NIV).
This is why Grace is also defined as the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God, which has brought the salvation of God to all men.
“For the Grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” – (Titus 2:11).
Salvation is a multi-faceted subject. Salvation is more than the deliverance from sin and its consequences, or being saved from the righteous judgement of God upon sinners. Salvation is also a process of the restoration of God’s original order and purpose for mankind and indeed for all of creation, back to as it was at the beginning of creation.
The gospel of the Kingdom is the restoration of creation to God’s order and government. The “Good News” is that everything we lost in Adam is restored back to us in Christ Jesus.
What Did Adam Lose?
Adam did not lose heaven, and never needed to be restored back to heaven, because he was not in heaven in the first place, and his assigned place was not to dwell in heaven. God placed him on earth, and this was his kingdom and place of dominion and rulership (Genesis 1:26 – 28, Genesis 2:7-15). Adam lost his kingdom and dominion over the earth as a result of the sin of disobedience that brought death, as His relationship with God was broken.
So therefore, salvation is not just getting delivered from sin and going to heaven; it is a restoration to God’s Kingdom and our dominion on and over the earth, which was God’s original purpose for man from the beginning. God has not changed His purpose and original plan.
The gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom of God is that everything that man lost in Adam, God has restored back to us through the abundance of grace in His son, Jesus Christ. We are restored back to our original purpose and order in God to reign in life and have dominion over the earth (Romans 5:12-21). This is what Grace is about!
As we understand the Grace of God and discover His purpose for us, we will understand that the goal of salvation is to bring a restoration through the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness into eternal life by Jesus Christ, so that we can reign with Him, not in heaven, but on earth.
“We are made unto our God as kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” – Revelation 5:10.
Grace is given to us to reign.
- Grace is the Divine Empowerment/Enablement of God.
We have earlier established the truth that Grace is a Person, Jesus Christ, and it is the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God (John 1:14, Romans 1:16).
Grace is also the divine help and strength that we receive through Jesus Christ. Though it is a divine empowerment that we receive from God which enables us, yet we must not assume that it is our strength that accomplishes the work, but His strength that is working in and through us.
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” – (Ephesians 3:20).
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” – (Philippians 4:13).
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” – (Philippians 2:13).
Grace is ‘God’s ability working in, or on behalf of a man’. Grace enables us to do more than we could have done by our own strength. It empowers us to do exceptional acts which are beyond our human ability.
Everything in the Christian life is empowered by Grace.
“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” – (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Grace is an enabling power that breaks limitations and accomplishes beyond the ordinary and achieves the impossible. Walking in God’s grace is living a limitless life.
I have often been asked about the secret of the success of our ministry into the nations, because many are aspiring for such success; ministry, open doors, platforms and global breakthrough. There is no specific formula or strategy that we have applied, apart from being obedient to the apostolic call and mandate to the nations to declare the gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is the Grace of God that is at work in and through us. No man can do this, except He is called to the nations. Your calling determines the measure of His grace to fulfill His assignment. If you are called to the nations, then the enabling grace of God will mightily work on your behalf to open the doors and give you platforms, and a fruitful ministry in the nations. You do not need to struggle for this. God does not call and lead you to a place where His grace cannot sustain you to fulfill His will.
“And with great power (grace) gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all” – (Acts 4:33).
If we are to live and operate in the supernatural life and power of God, it will be by His grace alone.
“Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas that he should go as far as Antioch….. When he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” – (Acts 11:20-23).
Barnabas was sent by the church in Jerusalem to go to Antioch to strengthen the believers who had just received Christ. When he came to Antioch, he saw the grace of God upon them. What was the grace he saw? The grace was the hand of the Lord which was enabling the saints to preach the Lord Jesus, bringing many to repentance and salvation. This was a divine act of God at work.
“Paul and Barnabas stayed there for a while, having faith in the Lord and bravely speaking His message. The Lord gave them the power (grace) to work miracles and wonders, and He showed that their message about His great kindness (grace)” – (Acts 14:3 CEV).
It is only grace that can perform this. Every work that lacks the grace of God will become vain toiling.
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” – (Psalm 127:1)
I remember the testimony of a dear Brother I met in Toronto, Canada in November 2015 while on an apostolic mission to that nation. God divinely connected us through another close friend and Brother from Montreal (Quebec), which is the French speaking part of Canada. We met for coffee and fellowship and he then took me on a tour of the church’s facilities prior to me ministering there.
As we set off on our tour, he began to share with me how the Lord gave them the property. Prior to this he had already shared with me how he travelled and emigrated from his home country in Rwanda, East Africa to Canada. Coming from a war-torn nation and a country with a ruined economy, it is very difficult to secure a visa to enter Canada.
Strangely he had received an invitation from an unknown person whom he later discovered was actually a scammer. The invitation was for an international conference on NARCOTIC (a highly illegal and addictive drug affecting mood and behaviour), being held in the city of Vancouver, in the state of British Columbia (BC) in Canada. Unknowingly he took what was a false invitation document from this scammer, and sent it with his application to the Canada High Commission for his visa. He applied as a minister of religion (Clergy) going to a NARCOTIC conference that had nothing to do with his profession. For some reason, the Visa Officer did not think that all this sounded unusual; neither did the embassy try to make contact with Vancouver to see if the conference even existed. If they had, they would have discovered that all details in the letter were false and unverifiable. To cut the story short, he was granted a three year multiple visa. This was where the favour on his journey began. After securing his visa, he tried contacting the organization in Vancouver to let them know of his coming, and only then did he discover it was all a scam.
Nevertheless, he flew to Canada without knowing anybody, and considering the political conflict and destroyed economy of his nation due to the civil war, he decided to apply for a refugee status. On arrival at the Border into Canada, he filed for his claim as a refugee. The immigration officer at the border post asked him which city he was going to. He was confused and did not know what to say, because he didn’t know anywhere in Canada, apart from Vancouver which was the city in the scammer’s invitation. The immigration officers at the border control were initially confused about the reason why he was granted a visa, and why a three year multiple visa was granted to him, which was very unusual for someone that knows nobody in Canada.
He looked at the immigration officer asked for a minute to think about where to go in Canada. He went aside to the wall and closed his eyes and began to pray out to God. While he was praying to God to give him a name of a city in Canada to fill in on the form and for favour with the immigration officer to let him in, a lady who was standing nearby heard his cry and prayers. She walked behind him and whispered, ‘I advise you to say Toronto.’ He opened his eyes and looked behind, the lady walked off. Wow! Quickly he went back to the immigration officer and said, ‘Toronto’. Without any further question, they cleared him and stamped an approval for a refugee status. By the time he arrived in Toronto he had only twenty dollars left in his pocket. Within a short while he was established and brought his wife and family from Rwanda to reside in Canada.
He started working for a flourishing multicultural ministry in Toronto and became the Pastor of the English Congregation. He was well paid and given office space to operate from. As time went by, he felt the leading of the Lord telling him it was time to move on and to establish what he had been called to do. He met with the leadership of the church to inform them about his plan, but they discouraged him not to leave, telling him of the many challenges to begin a new work etc, because he had nothing in his bank account to start out with. All he had was just a voice that said, ‘it is time’. They said he was crazy, but he chose to be obedient and left.
He approached another church to allow him use of their facility to start his new church fellowship. The pastor asked him. ‘How much money do you have to pay rent for the space?’ ‘Nothing,’ my friend replied. The overseer of that ministry laughed, but as he heard the young pastor’s testimony of his calling and how he left his nation, of the previous church where he had been working and how he left his well paid position in obedience to God’s voice; the overseer of this ministry looked at him and said, ‘who am I then to now charge you for the use of my facility’. He gave it to him free of charge.
Two weeks later after he began the ministry, the City Council of Toronto came and shut the facility down due to lack of maintenance by the company that owned it. When he heard this rather devastating news and that the building was even sealed with red tape to restrict anyone from entering, he felt so broken and disappointed; people were surely going to laugh and ridicule him, saying he never heard from God, he was just another person who had started something and failed.
In his confused state of mind he went secretly into the condemned facility and knelt down to pray. The lights were off and the place was in darkness; he left them off not wanting to alert anyone that he had broken through the red tape to go inside, which would be a criminal offense.
While he knelt down praying, he was saying to God, ‘I am so disappointed in YOU. You have failed me… blah blah blah’. He didn’t know what to pray or how to pray; he was just so angry and disappointed. But he began to ask God for a miracle. Right then, the Vice President of the company that owned the property heard that the City Council had shut down that part of their facility and this news really upset him, as he knew the excellent reputation of the company would suffer. So he went to see what was going on. He stepped into the dark hall then stood there spellbound listening to the young pastor’s anguished prayers. He switched on the lights and asked the startled pastor what he was doing there? The pastor introduced himself and out poured his story about how he had been running his meetings for only two weeks and now the place had been shut down, and this is Friday and he didn’t know where he was going to take his people on Sunday. He expressed his frustration and disappointment and told the Vice President he was just talking to God about it and asking God to intervene.
The Vice President looked at him and said, ‘I am an atheist. There is NO GOD! He does not exist; so you are wasting your time!’ But as he looked at the crestfallen pastor, he began to feel pity for him and said, ‘you are a young man, ‘I am going to help you’. The irony of the matter is that this atheist never knew that God was using him to fulfill His purpose by becoming the very instrument He was going to use to answer the prayers of this young man.
The Vice President gave him a better venue worth $5000 monthly, free of charge for the next six months! Within a few weeks a brother walked in with his family and wrote the pastor a cheque for almost $10,000 to furnish and equip the hall. Six months later, the Vice President came to see the place, he was shocked at the transformation and said, ‘indeed your God is Alive! I thought he was like the other gods like Buddha, Mohammed etc.’ Today that ministry in Canada is growing, flourishing and fulfilling their assignment.
Grace changes everything.
Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe
Our ministry is a faith-based ministry and this material is provided free of charge to the body of Christ for equipping the saints. If this material has been a blessing to you or a source of encouragement we ask that you prayerfully consider giving a love offering to help us carry the message of the Kingdom of God to the nations – (Hebrews 10:6).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen (so be it).