Grace. It’s the single most important word in all of the New Testament – actually, in all of the Bible.
The Apostle Paul would say of his entire life: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Cor 15:10)
Peter would say, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”(2 Peter 3:18) And“set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” (1 Peter 1:13)
Our relationship with God is all about grace and giving.
“For it is by grace you have been saved…” (Ephesians 2:8-9) We come to know God through grace. We grow through grace. And we are sustained through grace. We are also called into relationship with others by grace.
But did you know that the average Christian has a hard time getting their arms around what grace is?
Throughout my 30+ years of ministry, I’ve realized that new Christians, not-so-new Christians, and even seasoned Christians, all struggle with fully grasping the concept of grace.
When I’ve sat down with them, and asked, “Could you explain grace to me and how it works?” Their response has mostly been: “Uh, well, it’s uh, sort of… it’s free…and it’s unmerited and it’s…?”
Most of the time, our understanding is foggy at best! Yet our understanding of grace is so important.
Our understanding – or lack of understanding – of grace will determine the quality of our life on earth and, more importantly, will determine the destiny and the destination of our life after we die.
For instance, when it comes to our challenges in life, God often encourages us as He did Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12) This is a challenge and a promise that God says to us when we’re struggling the most in our lives. And it’s usually when we’re likely to misunderstand His grace the most.
Here’s what we need to know: Grace doesn’t mean that God is always going to take you out of your difficult situation. It doesn’t promise that a check is going to come in the mail, and it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily experience a supernatural healing.
God can and has done all those kinds of things. But if He doesn’t, He promises that His grace will be always sufficient.
Need to know more about God’s grace? What is it? How does it work? And how do you experience it? Check out Chip’s series, Grace: Experience God’s Generosity.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including "The Real God," "Culture Shock" and "The Real Heaven." Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip