Grace – Introductory Meditation

In New Testament times the apostle Paul emphasized the concept of grace. In the sixteenth century the Reformers drew the attention of the church back to the reality of grace. The twentieth century popularization of Newton’s hymn, Amazing Grace, again brought the concept of grace into the public eye. Then several books – including Philip Yancey’s book, What’s so amazing about grace? John Piper’s Future Grace, and AA Hoekema’s Saved by Grace - challenged Christians to refocus on the meaning and power of grace.

‘Amazing’ is an apt word to describe grace. It echoes some of Paul’s references to grace. He speaks of:

  • Grace that overflows to many [Romans 5:15]
  • ‘God’s abundant provision of grace’ [Romans 5:17]
  • Grace that ‘increased all the more’ [Romans 5:20]
  • The ‘surpassing grace God has given … his indescribable gift’ [2Corinthians 9:14,15]
  • The ‘riches of God’s grace’ [Ephesians 1:7]
  • Grace that is ‘lavished upon us’ [Ephesians 1:8]
  • The ‘incomparable riches of his grace’ [Ephesians 2:7]
  • God’s grace that was ‘poured out on me abundantly’ [1Timothy 1:14]

At first glance, these appear to be mostly descriptions of the amount of grace – it is overflowing, abundant, increased, surpassing, incomparably rich, poured out abundantly. Whatever grace is, it is not in short supply. It cannot run out. There is so much of it that it cannot be over-powered or surpassed by our sin, our guilt, our failures or lack of merit. No amount of sin is more extensive than God’s grace. We simply haven’t got enough sin to take us beyond grace.

Yet these descriptions are about far more than the amount of grace. They are also about the nature, working, power and impact of grace, and take account of the enormous opposition which grace has overcome and disempowered. The context in which grace has prevailed exposes the immense capability of grace.

Grace is a huge concept. And when we grasp even a little of this amazing grace we become aware that it is asking something huge of us: that not only should we embrace grace as God’s gift to us that is richer than we could ever imagine, but also that we should embrace grace as the governing paradigm of our entire existence, the operating principle of God’s kingdom of which he, by this grace, has made us members.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009