Have you ever noticed how challenging the English language can sometimes be? English is a language that is full of exceptions. Take for example this spelling rhyme: “'I' before 'e', except after 'c', or when sounded as 'a', as in neighbor and weigh.”
The English language can be difficult, not only in regard to spelling, but also in understanding what a word means. There are many English words that can have different meanings depending on how they are used (i.e. their context). The word “grace” is one of those words.
“She danced across the floor with effortless grace.” “Let’s say grace.” “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The word “grace” is often used by people to refer to simple elegance or beauty. Sometimes people use the word “grace” as a substitute for the word prayer. How does the Bible use the word “grace”? Probably the simplest definition for the word “grace” is “undeserved love.” When the Bible talks about the grace of God, it is referring to the undeserved love of God.
Where is that grace, that undeserved love of God, seen most clearly? God’s grace is most clearly evident on the cross. There we see Jesus willingly die to win forgiveness and salvation for undeserving sinners such as you and me.
With that in mind, to help us remember what the word “grace” means, I believe it is helpful to use the word “grace” as an acronym. (An acronym is when you use each letter in a word to stand for the first letter in each word of a phrase.) Therefore, the word “grace” can be used to stand for the phrase: “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” We receive the riches of God (forgiveness, life, salvation) because Christ Jesus paid the price for our sins as he died on the cross.
With that definition of grace in mind, think about the words of this familiar hymn: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see…Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Yes, it is God’s Amazing Grace found in Christ Jesus that will lead us home to heaven. As the passage mentioned earlier says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
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