Grace is a  constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the  coming of Jesus (John 1:17).  The word translated “grace” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word  charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend  grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God,  it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather  than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the  undeserving.

Ephesians  2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of  yourselves.” The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is  because of His grace toward us. Grace began in the Garden of Eden when God  killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis  3:21). He could have killed the first humans right there for their  disobedience. But rather than destroy them, He chose to make a way for them to  be right with Him. That pattern of grace continued throughout the Old Testament  when God instituted blood sacrifices as a means to atone for sinful men. It was  not the blood of those sacrifices that cleansed sinners; it was the grace of God  that forgave those who trusted in Him (Hebrews  10:4; Genesis  15:6).

The apostle Paul began many of his letters with the phrase,  “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:3).  God is the instigator of grace, and it is from Him that all other grace flows.  Grace can be easily remembered by this simple acrostic: God’s  Riches At Christ’s Expense.

God shows both  mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we  deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. Consider this illustration:  you were stopped in your old clunker for going 60 mph in a school zone. The  ticket is high, and you can’t pay it. You appear before the judge with nothing  to say for yourself. He hears your case and then, to your surprise, he cancels  your fine. That is mercy. But the judge doesn’t stop there. He walks you outside  and hands you the keys to a new car. That is grace.

In mercy, God chose  to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place (Titus 3:5; 2  Corinthians 5:21). But He goes even further than mercy and extends grace to  His enemies (Romans  5:10). He offers us forgiveness (Hebrews  8:12; Ephesians  1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-20), abundant life (John 10:10),  eternal treasure (Luke 12:33),  His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13),  and a place in heaven with Him some day (John  3:16-18) when we accept His offer and place our faith in His  sacrifice.

Grace is God giving the greatest treasure to the least  deserving—which is every one of us.