For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.
Unto the Church of Jesus Christ and unto the elect of God from all the Churches where the Holy Spirit of God reigns and to those who will push for the Holy Ghost baptism in due time.
The concept grace
To understand the concept of grace without modernity involved, the old testament reference will be useful to us.
“Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of “Grace, grace to it! Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “The hands of Zerubbabel Have laid the foundation of this temple; His hands shall also finish it. Then you will know That the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.”
From the scripture above we can understand that grace gives us smoothness of movement or ease of efforts. In other words, grace makes our little effort yield the desired or greater result. Or it means that grace minimizes our personal efforts. It is just like a push. It also means that grace empowers to attain desired result. Indeed whatever we achieve by grace is unmerited because we were helped to reach that height. One thing I would point out here is that- grace doesn’t take a way human effort. God’s grace for Zerubbabel’s temple did not send Zerubbabel home to sleep while He (God) did the magic alone. This I will explain in my next article about grace.
From the understanding of the primary concept of grace, we will explore divine grace or grace from God to the Church.
Wikipedia defines divine grace as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.
A complete definition which implies that;
- Divine Grace is from God.
- Grace helps us to become regenerated (born again).
- Grace leads us to sanctification.
- Grace inspires or compels us to act or do things beyond our naturally instincts and ability.
- Grace gives us ability and strength to overcome sin, temptation and trials.
In a more spiritual sense, divine grace is defined as the unmerited favour of God through Jesus Christ which brings us forgiveness, salvation, eternal life and empowerment. This worldwide accepted definition to grace doesn’t break away from the root meaning of Grace.
This definition leads us to the three types of grace.
Types of Grace
1. Forgiveness Grace : This is the grace God gives us to obtain forgiveness and mercy. This grace is given because of Christ’s death on the cross. We needed an atonement for our iniquities and Christ became our atonement. Therefore when we ask for forgiveness from God, the death of Christ gives of that grace, that ‘push’, that ‘smoothness’ to access and obtain mercy and forgiveness.
2. Salvation grace : This is the grace needed to be saved. It was this grace that found Paul and every other Christian. When God gives a man this grace, that man cannot help but come to his sheepfold. It might be during the sermon or on personal bible study, or even a divine revelation. This grace will clear the doubts and teach the mind to accept Jesus as Lord.
This grace gives strength and teaches to overcome sin and immorality. This is the grace that leads to sanctification. This is the grace to become born again, and it is given by Jesus though the Holy Spirit. No one can be saved or born again without the Holy Spirit.
3. Empowerment grace : This grace is only given to the saved and purely given through the Spirit of God. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;- Acts 1:8. This grace is the complete package. It gives a man ability to overcome all human limitations. This grace can open up a dull mind to be creative. This grace, can catapult a fearful man to a fearless man. When this grace comes upon a student, he becomes more brilliant than his study mates. Not that he studies more than them, but grace has unlocked his proficiency in understanding. This grace can teach you how to pray for hours without becoming weary. This is the grace behind ministerial calling.
One of the apostle that talked about grace so much was Apostle Paul. He talks about Salvation grace in Titus 2:11: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age. “
Put in another way; God’s grace has been given to us men. This grace teaches us to deny and say no to sin and worldly lust. It teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age.
One would agree that education is empowerment. With education, whether formal or informal, an individual has been given the knowledge to achieve feats. And we know that knowledge is power. Apostle Paul asserts that salvation grace teaches, empowers, strengthens and gives ability to achieve sanctification and righteousness. And one would ask; where is the concept of grace in this? The answer is very simple. Take for instance a man who struggles with a particular sin which has denied him attainment to a holy status before God. When the Spirit of grace comes upon him, he will receive strength. That strength is an empowerment and it works by teaching his mind and spirit to say no to that sin that controls him. And so he has a smooth path or an ease of personal effort to attain holiness. Even if temptation to fall back to the sin arises, he wouldn’t struggle with saying “No!” because something (grace) compels or pushes him to say No!; therefore grace helps him achieve holiness.
We must understand that where there is no feat to achieve, where there is no work to be done, where man is not trying to attain a height, or when God is not on a project through man, grace is not needed and it is not made available. Therefore grace complements the effort to achieve a task at hand.
When God wanted to save the gentiles he gave us grace. When he wanted to use Paul, grace found him. When God wants to do a Holy Ghost revival, grace for prayer is poured out on men. When God wants to bless a man, grace for making wealth is given him. When Zerubbabel was struggling with opposition in order to complete the second Temple, grace was given him. If God desires to call a man to be an Evangelist, grace for evangelistic ministry will be given him. Therefore grace is for achieving a result or goal.
The grace for salvation should make men saved. The grace of holiness should make a men Holy. The grace for forgiveness, brings man forgiveness. The grace for making heaven, gives man strength and teaches him to run the race.
How grace is given
1. Effortless Grace
Take a look at Paul’s experience of salvation, he was given grace without even trying to find Jesus. Some have claimed to come to Christ after seeing Jesus appear to them. Others had near death or even afterlife experiences. For these men, for reason unknown to us and them, grace and mercy found them.
Also as concerning empowerment grace, there are Christians who can pray for hours nonstop. Many never asked God for it, grace brought it to them. There are Christians who can preach fire even without being passing through theology school; we must remember Peter in this stead. Also, the grace for ministry given to the called pastors, evangelists, apostles, teachers and prophets are effortless.
Although this grace is gotten based on God’s free will, it is not to be taken for granted. It must be used to achieve the purpose for which it was given.
2. Asked-for grace
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
Our effort was never enough; Jesus died and poured out grace. But for this grace to work in man, he must ask for forgiveness. That asking of forgiveness activates this grace. If you don’t ask for it, it will not be given. Even Paul, though grace found him, I believe he prayed for forgiveness for his misdeeds.
Another instance of the kind of grace is when we ask God for it. No one possess it all; our agglomeration of the spirits of grace can come through prayers. James 1:5 – “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him”. Christians can pray for grace. And as long as the will of God is not on our way, and our hearts are right with God, He has promised to answer us.
I have written songs effortlessly, I also have songs, for which I had to pray and pray more before I could pen it down. The first day I set out to write this article I couldn’t finish it. Then I prayed to God for the grace and it was given to me. Therefore we can also receive grace by making making prayer efforts.
After grace is given
Those whom God has given grace must use it to actualize the purpose for which it was given. Those offered salvation through grace must live saved and resurrected lives. Those who possess grace for prayers must pray. Those who have ministerial grace must minister the word.
There are many church goers who claim to be saved by grace but still live in sin, fornication, lies, cheating, deceit and one form of sin or the other. They cling tightly unto the grace message but neglect its true power and meaning thereby abusing God’s grace. For the grace that brings salvation teaches, empowers and strengthens to say no to sin, any other thing apart from this is not from God.
I Ogba Victor, a servant of the Jesus Christ hereby admonish the Churches and Christians to pray to God for grace. As at the time I write this article, I have been persuaded by God of his zeal to pour out the Spirit of grace upon the church. May the grace of God and his son Jesus Christ rest upon us all; Amen!