In our ‘What is Worship’ series, we explore essential truths that lead us to discover true worship of the Creator.
The grace of God is central to understanding the gospel. Grace is unmerited favour and something that cannot be earned. If someone were merciful, they would be sparing another person punishment or a sentence that they deserved. To be gracious in the full biblical sense would be to give a gift to the recipient even though that gift was unmerited. God is both merciful and gracious and the gospel of grace is unique since every other religion is based on earning merit through performing works.
To use an illustration from finance, only Jesus the Messiah has paid the debt of sin and only He can credit righteousness (right standing with God) onto your account. No one could earn that through their efforts irrespective of the amount or the sincerity of their labours.
In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul explains how someone can be saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
In other words, we cannot work or merit our way to heaven irrespective of how good we have tried to be, how much we have contributed towards charity or how many services we have attended. Jesus the Messiah came from heaven to earth and lived a perfect life that was sinless, one that we could never have lived and through His death and resurrection, offers life eternal.
Paul makes this even clearer in Romans 11:6 by distinguishing between works and grace. “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.”
This does not mean that works are not important. Works are important, and we have been created to be God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). The distinction is that our works cannot save us or make us holy. Only the blood of Jesus the Messiah, the lamb of God can make atonement for our sins and reconcile us to God. However, works are evidence of a changed life since if we love God, we will obey His commandments. It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6) and faith without works is dead (James 2:20).
If someone has come to trust in the Lord and recognised that the sacrifice of Yeshua has provided atonement for sin, they can then have a real relationship with God and come to know Him. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).”