"Grace, God's Unmerited Favor"
July 28, 2023, 7:57 AM

Grace, God’s Unmerited Favor

The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

The Apostle John wrote, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 ESV). John referred to the law given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai and to the truth which is reality revealed in the person of Jesus. I’m certain that at some point in your Christian life you have heard that grace means unmerited favor. That is the basic definition and for those in Christ, grace is to receive what is not deserved from God. It is also to find favor in God, as Noah did (Genesis 6:8).

Mercy is an expression of God’s grace. The opposite of grace is merit, and the opposite of mercy is justice. The law of God given through Moses reveals the absolute perfection of God. The law He gave to men is the standard of perfection. The Jews sought to make the law fool-proof. The leaders of the Jews came up with more than 600 nuances of the basic commandments of God as a means of addressing every aspect of life and how men should behave in order to keep the law, mostly concerned with keeping the Sabbath holy. Jesus repeatedly said that they had missed the spirit of the law. The truth is that no one can keep the law. The Apostle Paul wrote that the purpose of the law was to bound sin and lead men to their need for a Savior (Galatians 3:19-29).

Jesus taught a fundamental principle of life. He said that God requires citizens of the Kingdom to be perfect (Matthew 5:48).

God does not grade on a scale. I remember taking a course in quantum physics in engineering college years ago. If the professor didn’t grade our tests on a scale no one would have gotten a passing grade in his course. He took the lowest grade and the highest grade and developed an acceptable score. God doesn’t do that. If you think that God will compare you to others at the end of your life, you won’t have a “passing grade.”

Are you willing to be honest with yourself? If you are, the undeniable conclusion is that you’re not perfect. No one is. This is the need for grace. Since no one is perfect, no one will go to heaven unless God extends His grace.

God’s grace is the only means by which men may have a “passing grade.” But God’s grace is not simply winking at our failure to be perfect. God’s grace is extended as a result of merit, perfect merit. God’s grace is extended only because of the perfect merit of Jesus Christ. What all men fail to do, He did. The grace of God is His favor extended to His people as a result of the merit of Jesus on their behalf. This grace is called saving grace. It is given by God to those whom He chose before the foundation of the world. His choice is not based on anything we will do or have done. His choice is unconditional (Ephesians 1, 2).

You may be thinking that this choice of God to extend saving grace as He wills is unfair. But grace is not about fairness. God is perfectly fair. We call His fairness divine justice. He has said that at the end of this world there will be a final judgment. Two books will be opened by God. One book is the record of everyone’s deeds. The other is called the book of life. The judgment of God is that anyone’s name that does not appear in the book of life is thrown into the “lake of fire.” Those two books represent the difference between justice and grace. Those who live thinking that God winks at their sin and will somehow extend grace to them at the end are those who will experience perfect justice. On the other hand those who live their lives relying upon the perfect life of Jesus and His perfect sacrifice will experience the fullness of God’s grace in eternal bliss.

So then, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor based upon the merit of His only Son Jesus. There are only two alternatives for mankind. Rely upon your own merit or rely upon the merit of Christ. In either case the standard is perfection. The truth is, Jesus is the only One who was perfect.