What did Jesus teach about grace?
Jesus Christ did not use the word grace Himself in His earthly ministry. Only two verses reference this word in the Four Gospels, and neither of the usages were by Jesus. Luke tells us the grace of God was on Jesus as a child. John taught: “ For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17, NKJV). Therefore, our understanding of the word grace comes from others.
Let’s look at a few uses of the word grace in the Bible. These instances were used by the apostles after the Savior’s death.
The first New Testament reference that gives substantial information about grace is found in Acts 15. Paul was listening to church members arguing over the issue of circumcision for Gentiles. Jesus did not teach the gospel to the Gentiles during His life, so this was a relatively recent issue. Paul, deciding he’d heard enough or perhaps was tired of the debate, stood up and reminded them they had been instructed to teach the Gentiles and that the issue of circumcision had already been dealt with. Circumcision as a religious symbol ended with the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was through this atonement that we are saved, not through the act of circumcision, which had been intended to remind men of God’s covenant with Abraham. Therefore, we learn that grace comes through Jesus Christ, and that it is only through Him that we can be saved.
The next instance is recorded in Romans 3. Paul is again coping with disagreements over circumcision. He reminds them that all men are sinners and that circumcision is not going to save anyone from his sins. In verses 23 to 25, he writes:
(F)or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.
Justification means to be restored to our proper relationship with God after we’ve sinned. None of us can do that on our own. Had Jesus Christ not been willing to atone for our sins, no amount of repentance, obedience, or faith would have saved us. The smallest sin would keep us out of God’s presence. Because of the atonement, we can restore our place in God’s kingdom. Grace makes this possible.
Grace means we will be resurrected after our deaths. It means when we commit sin, we are able to repent (if we choose to do so) and be forgiven. Everyone who came to earth receives grace without any actions or choices on his own part. Grace is freely given to all mankind.
Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior show their commitment by obeying God’s commandments. Our obedience is from love, not greed, in order to be true obedience. It should be a natural outgrowth of our conversion to Christianity. The result of this is a promise the Savior Himself made to those who honor His name:
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10 NKJV)
A full understanding of grace may be impossible to achieve, but we do know that through it we are offered the chance to change and repent. We don’t obey the commandments to earn grace, because it is freely given. We obey to show our love and give thanks to God.