The Grace of God
The terms “grace” and “mercy” are special words to us, aren’t they? Just to say them aloud is sweet and soothing to the ears. These two terms, though different in meaning, are so compatible that we can hardly say the one without mentioning the other. They are as twin brothers, as one preacher put it. “Grace” is often defined as “unmerited favor;” whereas “mercy” basically means “compassion.” But more to the point, “grace” is receiving something that we do not deserve (i.e., salvation); whereas “mercy” is not receiving something that we do deserve (i.e., condemnation). The concept of grace does not mean that all men will be saved, for not all will be (Mt. 7:13-14, 21-23). Nor does it mean that no works are needed, for “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:14-26; 1:22-25). Nor does it mean that we may continue in sin without fear of eternal punishment (Rom. 6:1-2, 12, 23).
Though “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tit. 2:11), not all will receive it. Imagine a wealthy man having compassion on a poor, homeless man, in his impoverished and despicable condition, and deciding to do something to save him. The poor man doesn’t deserve the rich man’s help (he’s done nothing to earn it), yet the offer is there. The rich man offers to take the poor man and get him cleaned up and to give him a job and a place to live. If the poor man takes him up on his offer, then (and only then) is he saved (from his plight) by grace. If he does not take up the rich man’s offer, he forfeits grace and cannot benefit from it at all. You see, all because mercy and grace was shown toward the poor man doesn’t mean he was automatically saved from his predicament. He has to be willing to receive it. And if the poor man did accept the offer, but then turned back to his miserable lifestyle, he would no longer receive the rich man’s act of grace.
The same is true spiritually, friends. God offers to give you something you neither can earn nor obtain on your own. If you will do what He tells you, you will be saved by grace (Tit. 2:11-14). If you will not, or if you turn back, you forfeit His grace (Gal. 5:1-4). Can you see the difference, friends?