Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)
Ephesians is 6 chapters long. Yet, the entire message of this letter is summed up in this verse. Grace and Peace. Let's talk for a moment about grace. There is no more wonderful doctrine of the church than the doctrine of grace. Songs have been sung about it. The great hymn Amazing Grace sums it up. God's grace is truly amazing. But why is it amazing?
God's grace is amazing because it is undeserved! One of the most common definitions of grace is "God's unmerited favor." Here are what a few theologians say about the definition of God's grace. A. W. Tozer said: "Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving." Berkhof said that grace is "the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit."
While these definitions are accurate they don't go far enough! Grace is a gift of God. It is his love toward us. But what makes it more amazing is that we are not just undeserving, we are in active rebellion against him. Before the grace and kindness of God appears in our lives we are true rebels of God. Our natural inclination is to go against him. God doesn't just love strangers, or ingrates, he loves ENEMIES. That is why his grace is so amazing. And that is the grace that Paul is talking about. In fact, who could be a better proponent of the amazing character of God's grace than the Apostle Paul, who before the grace of God appeared in his life, was killing Christians!
The danger for many of us is that we take far too favorable look at ourselves. We think that we were pretty good, and then God came along, offered grace to us, and made us better. That is the kind of thinking that diminishes God's glory. If we truly want to honor God, and enjoy a relationship with him, we must start with an understanding that we are wretched by nature, and God is perfect. His grace to us becomes far more amazing when we can grasp the difference between man and God.
Are you amazed by God's grace? Have you fallen for the lie that somehow you deserve grace? In light of the grace that God has given you, how will you live your life today? Who else might need to know that they can receive God's grace?