WHAT IS GRACE?
Jesus said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Understanding the meaning of the words "grace" and "faith" is the key to New Testament theology.
Grace is not mercy. Mercy is mercy. Grace is not a license to sin. Many understand that grace is unmerited favor, and that is true. Grace, however, is much more than unmerited favor.
Grace comes from the Lord and is simply the God-given desire and the power to do God's will.
A good explanation of grace is found in the epistle to the Philippians: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (2:13).
Grace and faith are both necessary for salvation as God grants repentance to the sinner who humbles himself before Him. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8).
God resists the proud; it is to the humble that He gives grace.
Faith (the kind that comes from God) is the knowledge of God's will for you, and grace is the God-given desire and power to do His will.
Faith without works (action) is dead, and you can only do an act of faith (God's revealed will) as you humble yourself before Him and receive the grace to do it. The Christian's sinful nature is still with him until he leaves his body, and if you were left to yourself you would not do God's will---you would have neither the desire nor the power to do it. Without Him you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).
Jesus is the Author of faith (Heb. 12:2), and the apostle John tells us that "the law was given by Moses, but grace...came by Jesus Christ" (Jn. 1:17).
Another passage that gives us light regarding what grace is can be found in the letter to the Hebrews: "Now the God of peace...make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ..." (Heb. 13:20-21).
All our righteousness is as filthy rags. And all our works that are not of faith (according to the knowledge of God's will), as we receive His grace (the desire and the power to do God's will), are merely wood, hay and stubble. Everything that God does through you by faith as you receive His grace has eternity stamped on it.
Christians are vessels through which God desires to carry out His plan. All that you do should be by faith from God as you humbly receive His grace.
Much of the work done by Christians today is not in the power of the Holy Spirit, which is to say it is not of faith and is done in their own power. God only gives grace to do work that is of faith.
Everything that is not of faith is sin (Rm. 14:23) (our own works) and will burn up when tested by fire. Without faith from God it is impossible to please Him, and it is impossible to carry out works of faith without His grace.
Paul wrote in the first epistle to the Corinthian church, "...By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Cor. 15:10).
The apostle wrote to Timothy, "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry...And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 1:12, 14).
"[God] who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace" (2 Tim. 1:9).