“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8)”
This come from one of the first chapters in a book that I started writing in the late 1990’s called “Grace While failing”. I hope it will help you to understand biblical “grace”, in what it is and what it’s not.
Grace comes from a position to give a position.
We in America through a Western culture do not understand in practice, what it is to be in a class society or kingdom society; since this nation wasn’t built on this kind of culture. We have no real experience with this kind of thinking or mindset that operates within these cultures. However, in other countries they understand what it is to be in a society of common people and of those who are called royalty.
In these kinds of societies there is no hope for the common person to have what royalty has; a boundary is set, where one can only be born into royalty and the common person is rarely ever allowed to cross this boundary. However, royalty may seek out a common person and for whatever reason, (usually for their own gain) may raise this person up in status or give them an occupation within the kingdom.
This new status is something that is way out of reach for this person to obtain in their own ability, they couldn’t earn it, and they can only accept it or decline it. It also means the person owes their loyalty to this person, so to break or violate this loyalty one could lose everything and go back to being common; with no hope of gaining this status back.
God’s grace is similar in many ways, it is a lifting up; he gives us his grace to raise us up or out of our common place (sin) and places us in a new or uncommon position (salvation). The people of Jesus’ day would have understood grace in this kind of context; also the parables of Jesus’ points to this kind of grace society or kingdom grace. Where a king might choose someone to be his butler, blacksmith or maybe a placement over or within the Royal court.
Now, our labor in this new position is not what brought us here, nor does it hold us here; In other words, you don’t start out with grace only to start working to keep it or to maintain your position. But our works do show where our loyalty is, so for my Calvinist friends: If there is no loyalty, then maybe you were never raised into this uncommon position in the first place. Also to my Arminian friends, if there is no loyalty, then maybe you are operating outside of your position and are in danger of losing your position.
In any case the Lord expects us to take on the responsibilities of our new position as good stewards (1 Pet. 4:10). So to understand and operate in this position we may need to take on a different mindset than how the world teaches us to operate; even the kingdoms of this world will operate differently than the Kingdom of God in many ways.
Two other things here to look at also:
One: since grace only comes through Jesus then he himself must be in a position to offer a position. If Jesus isn’t the Messiah by whom God is going to redeem mankind, then his grace is meaningless! But if Jesus is the Messiah, then we owe all of our loyalty to him and we need to walk as if there is no other grace to be found.
Two: the position that comes from the grace of God will need to be a better position than the one we were already in! If it is a better position, then we should act like we have made the better choice and not keep looking back as if we are not sure that receiving Christ is the best choice.
Satan is always looking for an open door where he can gain authority or power over us, if we allow ourselves to wander away from giving Jesus our full attention; as well, grace is hindered in our lives when we stand between two decisions, or not giving Jesus our best.
Once again; to understand and operate in this position we will need to take on a different mindset than how the world operates, even the kingdoms of this world will operate within different principles than the Kingdom of God; and if we continue in the wrong principles or mindset, then God’s grace in our life will be affected and our position may be hindered in manifesting its fullness to us in this earth.
Grace also comes from authority to give authority.
Grace is an endowment from God; which would mean we have received everything that it takes to operate in or what it takes to hold our new position. For the most part our position cannot be taken away by something or someone else, but there are things that can try to restrict or stop us from doing the things of God; as well, they will try to prevent us from enjoying our salvation.
So God not only uses his authority to give us this grace, but he gives us authority through his name to accomplish his will. A police officer is given his position by the authorities that be; and in this position he now has authority that he can enact while performing his duties. However, his authority is only of effect as long as he is in his jurisdiction; so once he is out of his jurisdiction, then his authority is of little or no effect. The police officer must also stay under the authority of those over him as well; he must not violate authority himself, if he desires to keep his authority.
Those that understand Kingdom authority know that the authority of one kingdom has no effect in or over another kingdom; the rules and laws can be different from one king to the next. Therefore, what is applied in one kingdom, may not be applied in another; so the citizen of one kingdom has no real rights in the next kingdom (Eph. 2:12-19).
There are some exceptions to this rule: There can be a “greater” kingdom which can exercise authority over a lesser kingdom. This means the law of the greater kingdom can overrule the laws of the lesser, but one would have to know this rule in order for it to be applied or for it to take effect.
So for a citizen of the greater kingdom to override the law of the lesser, he/she would need to know how their authority works and operate in it or they may find themselves falling short of (grace) their lawful rights and fall prey to the then binding laws of the lesser kingdom.
Grace comes from power to give power.
Power can be abilities or talents, which one never possessed before, or it can be abilities or talents you have, but now they seem to be supercharged to a degree that you could never have approached before. Paul says, we have been made able ministers of the New Testament (2 Cor. 3:6). The Lord has put at our disposal everything that it takes to be successful in this position.
Power can be the Spiritual gifts that are given to the Church as they are needed. A prophet has what it takes to be a prophet; an Apostle has what it takes to fulfill his apostleship and so on. (1 Cor. 12:4-11) Paul in 1 Cor. 12 uses the word “charisma”; which is translated gifts, one can call them “gifts of grace”; (can you see the word “charis = grace” in charisma?)
The thing about authority and power is it all comes from God, so in order for this grace to be sustained; one needs to stay in a position of submission to his authority and under a constant flow of grace, which is accomplished through prayer, the renewing of one’s mind through the word of God and communion with the Holy Spirit.
If one leaves off any of these, then one may find that the power, authority, talents and so on, which comes through God’s grace, may wane or our usage of them may be hindered or restricted. Therefore, one needs to be aware that there may be some aspects of grace that can change if one does not stay aware of where this power and authority comes from. Your position (salvation) may not change, but your ability to operate in it may.
Grace is often called: unmerited favor, which it is! But it is so much more than something that comes to us unmerited or by favor; it’s a lifting of us up to a position so that we can be what God has called us to be. Can you imagine a king raising someone up to be his butler and then this person then not fulfil the obligations of a butler or a blacksmith not working in his shop? This would be frustrating (or thumbing one’s nose at) the grace of the king. Yet, this is what many do when they don’t take their position and operate within the grace of God that is given them.
In Jesus’ day grace wasn’t actual seen as “unmerited favor”, but rather as a lifting up of a person from a low position to a higher position. It was more of a royal job placement, which only happened if you found favor with the King or someone of high degree.