The definition of “grace” is unmerited (undeserved and unearned) but freely given love and favor of God toward man. To appreciate the full significance of grace requires diligent study of the Scriptures, prayer, thoughtful meditation, and life experience. The Epistle of Ephesians provides a good starting point.
Ephesians 1:1 and 2 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints [holy ones] who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The salutation and closing of Ephesians, as is common to most of Paul’s writing, includes grace and peace. When we consider man’s innate sin and guilt, we conclude the only access to God must be by grace. We have no grounds for anything we receive from God, yet the blessings are incomprehensively bountiful due to their eternal implications. Understanding and embracing grace produce a life enriched with thankfulness, humility, and love. Grace is our personal evidence of God’s love.
3-6 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who [God] has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He [God] chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him [God]. In love
He [God] predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself [God], according to the kind intention of His [God’s] will, to the praise of the glory of His [God’s] grace, which He [God] freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [Christ].
A loving mother modifies her entire life to provide for her newborn infant and sacrifices everything for his or her care; yet, the child does nothing to merit, deserve, or earn this devotion. Actually, the child’s behavior is most often contrary. In a similar but even greater way, is God’s grace to the saints. Why is He so good to us? The explanation provided for His great loving generosities is found in verses 5, 7, 9, and 11. The words “according to “earmark His reasoning and motivation. “According to” sets the standard for what proceeds and sets the agreement or conformity for what follows. The verses show his demonstrated grace and love are in agreement or conformity to His inner desire, His heart for you.
The kind intention of His will –1:5
The riches of His grace – 1:7
His kind intention which He
purposed in Him – 1:9
His purpose who works all things
after the counsel of His will – 1:11
1:6-7 – In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
“Redemption” is to regain possession of by paying a price. 2:1-3 reveal our standard of life or that which we conformed to before Christ (which is again set-off by the words “according to”).
2:1-3 – And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,
in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
We were owned by the prince of the power of the air and were slaves to our own impulses and longings. God paid the price or ransom with Jesus to set us free, to rescue us from the devil to become His possession again. 1:14. “Possession” implies we once belonged to the devil, and with redemption we now belong to God. We often say this is “my” brother, sister, son, daughter, dog… indicating the belongingness of connection.
2:4-8 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
We move from complete engrossment in the impulses and longings of self-centeredness to salvation that issues in God showing the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in the ages to come. Is there any more contrasting extreme in comparison? The appreciation of grace is found in understanding what we once were (seldom grasped by anyone) and the reality of what we are now coupled with the promise of our destiny. Paul is our example of someone who really understood grace based on the aforementioned. He never forgot who he was and what he did before Christ, and he strongly embraced the hope.
3:2-3 – If indeed, you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;
that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
3:7-8 – Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given to me according to the working of His power.
To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,
Paul, once the main proponent and leader of Christian persecution, was himself redeemed and entrusted with the mystery that God kept to Himself for centuries. Paul never doubted the privilege that was His and knew exactly where it came from and why – God’s grace. Acts 8:1-3; 9:1 and 2; 1Timothy 1:11-17
Ephesians 4:7 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Paul was not the only one to receive grace, for each one of us who believes also receives grace. We, like Paul, should be so immersed in grace that it constantly proceeds from our lips.
4:29 -Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.
The epistle and this article end with the following conclusion.
6:24 – Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible