The Meaning of the Word “Grace”

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on grace in light of Ephesians 2:8-10:

Grace is God’s richness for the bankrupt. Grace is God’s resurrection life for the dead. Grace is a one-way street–God comes to you.

…we are Christians entirely and solely as the result of the grace of God. Let us remind ourselves once more that ‘grace’ means unmerited, undeserved favour. It is an action which arises entirely from the gracious character of God. So the fundamental proposition is that salvation is something that comes to us entirely from God’s side. What is still more important is this, that it not only comes from God’s side, it comes to us in spite of ourselves–‘unmerited’ favour. In other words, it is not God’s response to anything in us. Now there are many people who seem to think that it is–that salvation is God’s response to something in us. But the word ‘grace’ excludes that. It is in spite of us…Salvation is not in any sense God’s response to anything in us. It is not something that we in any sense deserve or merit. The whole essence of the teaching at this point, and everywhere in the New Testament, is that we have no sort or kind of right whatsoever to salvation, that the whole glory of salvation is, that though we deserved nothing but punishment and hell and banishment out of the sight of God to all eternity, yet God, of His own love and grace and wondrous mercy, has granted us this salvation. Now that is the entire meaning of this term ‘grace’.” [God’s Way of Reconciliation, 130]

Grace is not God’s response to your greatness. Grace, as Ephesians 2:8 shows, eliminates human boasting. Instead grace is God’s free gift of himself to sinners and for sinners. This is why faith is not so much responding to God’s grace as it is receiving God’s grace.

So don’t believe the lies that your sins are not that great or that they are greater than God’s grace. Both of these attitudes are a kind of boasting. We boast in our sinfulness when we believe our sins are more magnificent than God’s grace thus weakening grace, and we reveal our sinfulness when we think that we were not dead–dead, dead, dead–in sin thus cheapening grace.

Grace is God’s richness for the bankrupt. Grace is God’s resurrection life for the dead. Grace is a one-way street–God comes to you.

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