The Dispensation of Grace

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Grace is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful subjects taken up in the Word of God. It brings before us the undeserved favor of God to man and, as such, deals with all men on one common basis. Grace never passes by sin, but rather shows by contrast the horror and awfulness of it. Its very display confirms the entire ruin of man, for if man could improve himself by his own power, there would be no need of grace. On the other hand, this very ruin becomes the occasion of showing out God’s character of love. The grace of God comes in where man is utterly evil, and in such a condition, nothing but grace can meet his need. The supreme triumph of grace was seen at the cross, for where man’s sin reached its zenith in crucifying the Son of God, God’s love brought in salvation by that very act, and God’s grace provided forgiveness for that very rejection.
The Gospel of Grace
Grace especially characterizes the Christian dispensation, and the gospel now preached is aptly called by Paul “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:2424But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:24)). Grace is more than a conviction through conscience. My conscience may be exercised as to sin, but a sense of sin without the heart being touched will only drive me away from God, as it did Adam in the garden. Grace makes me realize my sin in all its evil, but then it allows me to taste that the Lord is gracious. A sense of grace drew the woman at Sychar’s well closer to the Lord Jesus, even though she realized that He knew all about her sin. It made her bold to go to the men of the city, saying, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did” (John 4:2929Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? (John 4:29)). When I could not go to God, He came to me, and this is grace.
Continuing in Grace
This, however, is only the beginning, for grace touches every aspect of our Christian life. Paul and Barnabas could exhort the new believers in Antioch in Pisidia to “continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:4343Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. (Acts 13:43)), for it is God’s grace in which we walk from day to day. A sense of grace will keep me happy, for in being occupied with Him, I have the enjoyment of His love in my soul. It is good to realize what I am and to be humbled by it, but if I am occupied with myself, to that extent I am off the ground of grace. Joy and peace come from knowing, not so much what we are, but what He is to us, and this is grace. However, I must remain in God’s presence, for His grace is so vast that I cannot learn it outside of Him. Grace apart from God becomes an excuse for sin.
Grace in Service
Likewise, that same grace will show itself in service, for if I have received grace, I will want to show it to others. Grace will meet me in trials, enabling me to go through difficulties that otherwise would prove overwhelming. It will keep me humble, for a sense of grace will make me realize that everything of blessing in my life is a result of grace. Paul could say, “By the grace of God I am what I am.  .  .  .  I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). That same grace, however, will meet me if I fail. It will restore me and enable me to get up again and go on. God’s government may come in too, but grace tells me that the One who saved me knew exactly how I would turn out and chose me anyway. For these reasons and more, Paul ends a number of his epistles with the exhortation, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” When ruin was coming in and the truth was being given up, Paul could say to Timothy, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). May it be more so with us, in these last days of the dispensation of grace!
W. J. Prost
Established in Grace
The soul that is established in grace will be found rather reasoning from what God is than from what we ourselves are. Oh, precious occupation of the heart, to be going over and over again the grace and glory we receive from Him!
J. G. Bellett