By Dr. Harold Sala
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:8, KJV
Strange, isn’t it, that from generation to generation some great truths seem to get pushed aside, and then when they are rediscovered, they become like the taste of new wine?
In 1779, a slave trader turned Anglican minister wrote these words to an anonymous tune: “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.”
Whenever Americans sing the beloved words written by Katharine Lee Bates, they invoke the blessing of grace as well. Remember the lines which read, “America! America! God shed His grace on thee/ And crown thy good with brotherhood/ From sea to shining sea”?
But today we neither hear nor sing much of the grace of God. Is grace one of those truths which seemingly has been lost by a “me generation” in search of instant fulfillment and happiness? And can it be that to rediscover what grace is would really bring what so many have been searching for and didn’t know it? The Gospel to most people today begins with the simple statement, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” While that is true, it’s terribly incomplete both theologically and pragmatically. The focus is selfishly on the individual and his pleasure without understanding what is behind the love of God and what great price was paid to bring a person into confrontation with the Almighty.
I am convinced that our generation needs to redirect its focus from “my pain and hurt and what I want from God” to striving to rediscover who God really is, what He is like, and in my small, finite way to attempt to understand something of His nature and character. In discovering Him we are brought into direct confrontation with the grace of God, and when we discover this, we have stumbled onto the conduit of blessing and the source of all that we could ever need or hope for.
A question which needs to be clearly answered is simple and fundamental. It is this: “What is grace in the biblical context?” The best way to answer that question would be to look up every reference to grace found in the Bible, and then come to your own understanding; but since you probably don’t have time for that, let me see if I can give you some insights.
The same words found in the Bible translated “grace” were used of kings or emperors who treated their subjects with undeserved kindness or blessing. Does the same concept apply to the way in which the Creator, the Lord of the universe, treats His subjects? Yes! In simple terms, grace means unmerited, undeserved favor. A generation ago, C.I. Scofield, in the notes of the reference Bible which bears his name, said grace “is the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man…” (see note on John 1:12).
Grace has to do with what God has done for us, undeserving as we are. Mercy is not getting what we deserve, while grace is getting what we don’t deserve. A child caught taking cookies from a cookie jar may not receive a spanking–that’s mercy; but the gift of more cookies than a child could eat in his lifetime is what grace is about.
A fairly simple but good definition is an acrostic based on the letters, g-r-a-c-e, defining grace as “God’s riches at Christ’s expense.”
Rediscovering what grace is may well change the focus of your attention from your need to God’s provision. What better solution is there to the pain and confusion of life today?
RESOURCE READING: Genesis 6:1-10.