To “say grace” means to pray over a meal. “Grace” is sometimes a woman’s name. “Amazing Grace” may be the most popular hymn of all time. A popular acrostic says: “Grace — God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
But what does “grace” mean? The most common and popular definition seems to be: “unmerited favor”. In most Christian circles this is taken to mean: “the right to go to Heaven when you die, based on having prayed a prayer asking Jesus into your heart.”
However, I thing grace involves much more than that. Here’s an alternative acrostic for grace: God’s Righteous Attributes Continually Expressed (in our lives).
One thing for sure, grace is not earned. Whatever it is, it is given freely. I guess the question is: Is grace for when you die (to get you into Heaven) or is grace for this earthly life (to enable you to live your life in a Christian lifestyle)?
Maybe grace is not “either-or”. Maybe it is both. Maybe if you have received genuine grace, you not only will go to Heaven when you die, but you will also live a godly, moral lifestyle here and now. If all I have is the right to enter Heaven after I die, but I can’t or won’t obey God on earth, maybe I don’t really have God’s grace at all. Is that possible?
Like the song says: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” The writer, John Newton (a former slave trader) is saying that he is no longer living a wretched lifestyle. Amazing grace didn’t just give him a future in Heaven, but changed his way of life on earth. Now that is grace–a changed lifestyle!
I want to have God’s Righteous Attributes Continually Expressed in my life. But I can’t earn a Christian lifestyle. I need supernatural power in order to obey Jesus daily. I can’t do it by myself–I must have grace in order to live godly.
But when God gives me His grace–when God opens the door, I must go through. I must not excuse sin in myself by saying: “I’m going to Heaven anyway so my sin doesn’t matter.” One final question: If grace cannot save us from the power and dominion of sin in this earthy life, why do we suppose it can get us into a holy Heaven?