God's gift of grace
Jake Heppner, Southbrook Baptist Church
"When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day's pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award - yet receives such a gift anyway - that is a good picture of God's unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God." - George.W. Knight
So the grace of God is to be understood: God extending undeserved favor as a gift to those who are unable to earn it. The gift of grace is understood in 2 capacities: 1) God's gift of victory over the penalty of sin, e.g. eternal hell, and 2) God's gift of freedom over the power of sin during our earthly lives. Grace is God's gift that allows Him to withhold the penalty of sin each of us deserves, and to redeem us from the entanglement and conscription of sin's grip on our lives; this gift is universally available, but must be asked for and depended on in faith of Jesus Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.
Those who choose to depend on God's gift of forgiveness through Christ's work on the cross will receive God's grace in release from the penalty of hell, but also will receive grace's other capacity: the capacity to live in righteousness, being changed from the inside, by God, into Christ-like character. 2 Peter 3:18 directs those in faith to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 'Grow in grace' refers to the power of God that allows us to live as Christians; the grasp of sin has been broken, the bonds have been severed, and we have the ability and duty to surrender our thoughts, steps, and decisions to God to allow Him to shape and mold us into the image He deems best. This cannot occur unless Jesus Christ occupies the position of both Savior and Lord in your heart: as Savior, He frees from sin's bondage and addictions, and as Lord, He wields control of direction and image in our hearts and minds.
This aspect of grace deserves to receive more of our appreciation and our attention: God offers to take a life deserving the ruination of sin and fashion into it a light that will shine to Him.