Stage 1


"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was with them all" Acts 4:33.
The grace of God was very important in the life of the early Christians (read Acts 14:26; 15:40). The word "grace" has two meanings. We must understand both aspects in order to experience the fullness of grace in our lives.

Unmerited favor

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast" Ephesians 2:8-9.
Grace is God's mercy at work. Even though we were sinners, deserving of judgment, God forgave us and saved us in Christ.
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions...in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus" Ephesians 2:4-5,7 (read the whole of chapter 1).

Enabling power

But the second part to the meaning of grace is just as important. Not only does grace make us accepted into the family of God; it also enables us to live the Christian life.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me" 1 Corinthians 15:10.
In salvation, the fullness of God's grace is at work. Through God's unmerited favor we receive forgiveness and restored relationship with Him even though we don't deserve it. But more than that, God's enabling power is also at work. It is only by God's grace that we are transformed (Eph.3:20), born again (John 3:3,6) and become a new creation (2 Cor.5:17). Grace simply means that God does what we cannot do ourselves. We could not save ourselves, so God saved us by His grace. Neither can we live the Christian life in our own strength, so God's grace gives us the ability to do what we cannot do ourselves. Both aspects of God's grace - His unmerited favor and His enabling power - come to us because we are in Christ.
"...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..." 2 Peter 3:18 (see also John 1:14,16-17).

Daily Grace

"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" 2 Timothy 2:1 (see also Romans 5:1-2).
The two parts of grace are available to us on a daily basis:

Forgiveness of Sins

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" Romans 3:23-24.

Power to Overcome Sin

"For the grace of God...teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" Titus 2:11-12.
If we only understand one of these truths without the other, we can seriously misunderstand God's grace.
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:1-2.
The first misunderstanding of God's grace is to think that it doesn't matter if a Christian sins, because God's grace is always available to bring forgiveness (read Jude 4). But no, God's forgiveness is only one half of the work of grace. God's plan is for us to overcome sin through the power of His grace.
"For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace" Romans 6:14 (read also 1 John 2:1-2).
The second misunderstanding of God's grace is to think that a Christian cannot sin. John wrote about this clearly:
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" 1 John 1:8 (see also verse 10).
God's grace works only when we realize our need of God's help. It is in the midst of our weakness that grace comes to do what we cannot do ourselves (Romans 8:3-4).

Missing the Grace of God

"See to it that no one misses the grace of God..." Hebrews 12:15.
As Christians, we have been called to continue in God's grace (Acts 13:43). We can miss the grace of God through: Grace is so important in God's plan for our lives because only grace changes the focus of our lives from self to God. If we could save ourselves, the result would be pride and boasting. If we could live the Christian life in our own strength, the result would be the same.
"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace" Romans 11:6.
We experience God's grace in our lives through humility - a revelation that we cannot save ourselves or change ourselves. We can only rely on the wonderful grace of God.
"...God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" James 4:6.

Grace in Action

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" Hebrews 4:16.
As we walk with God each day, we constantly meet new trials of our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7). Our response to God is faith, which is believing what God's word says despite what the circumstances might indicate. God's response to our faith is His grace.
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" 2 Corinthians 9:8.
Like Paul, we too can discover the daily outworking of God's grace in the midst of our weakness and inability.
"...My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 (read also verses 10; 11:23-30).


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