Well, grace is a gift from God.
Ephesians 2:1 says we "were dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked," that in our brokenness, we merely looked to the world and culture around us to cue us on how to live. We "lived in the passions of the flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind."
The grace of God is that though we were offensive to Him in such a state, He loved us and saved us from that sinful state. This salvation hinges on our embracing of God's sacrifice in Jesus' death, and confidence in the fact that He rose from the grave in new life. "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph. 2:8).
But is that it?
Grace is forgiveness of our sins for those who believe... We and God are straight, and nothing else changes?
I think this is how I have lived much of my Christian faith: "sure, I'm forgiven because I allow Jesus' sacrifice to be enough to right my wrongs... but these sins that I hate committing won't really cease until I go to Heaven."
But that's not really the picture Ephesians 2 paints at all.
Ephesians 2:4-7 says: "But God, being rich in mercy [yeah, yeah. got it - forgiveness], because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses [yep, God's love is great], made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved -- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Whaaaaa...? There is ANOTHER SIDE to grace?!
This blows me away! You mean I can actually live for real... now?! In the eternal realm, I'm already positioned in a place of high esteem, but within this current existence Christ is only going to continue to reveal how kind He is toward us who embrace Him?
His grace is immeasurably rich... for life!!!
I think there are a few ways in which I can now go on in life after realizing this little Scriptural treasure:
- I could doubt it. "This isn't for me. This doesn't describe my experience." Such a posture is like God handing me a big gift-wrapped box, only for me to relax my grip and let the gift fall to the ground.
- I could play the grammar game and interpret it as a future promise. "Well, the coming ages are arguably not here yet... that's Heaven." But that ignores that all of what Christ has done for us WAS ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED; "made us alive... have been saved... raised us up... seated us..." Had all things happened to us only for us to remain unchanged? I think not.
- I could embrace God's grace in faith and live anew. I could get excited about the notion that God actually desires more for my existence than the dreariness of the day in and day out... and then go seek it out!
The other side of grace is only realized, however, when the fear that paralyzes us is addressed. God's perfect love casts out all fear. Seek His face, behold the kindness of the King, and we will find the constitution to dare to live... abundantly. That's the Kingdom coming, His will done on earth as it is in Heaven.
That's exciting to me.