“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalms 86:15
Over the last several weeks on Thursday’s we have been looking at the four basic attributes of God that can help us to understand the gospel. (see below for links to previous articles) Today, we will look at the Biblical truth that God is gracious. The word “grace” in the Bible refers to God’s unmerited favor or kindness. God is gracious towards us in that He gives us what we do not deserve. Grace is not something we can purchase, earn or even deserve. Grace is something God gives to us out of His own kindness and love. God’s grace is best understood in light of the previous attribute—His righteousness. God’s righteousness demands that a payment be made for breaking of His rules, but His grace compels Him to offer us salvation.
In Genesis 3:21-24, we see the first instance of God’s grace after the fall. In v.21, God provided clothes made from animal skins for Adam and Eve. This act prepared the way for the Old Testament sacrificial system and the coming of Jesus. In effect, the animals that provided their skins for Adam and Eve were the first in the long line of animals sacrificed in the Old Testament to provide a covering for sin. These sacrifices did not have the ability to forgive or erase the penalty for sin; however, they did provide a temporary covering so that people did not have to deal immediately with the full consequences of sin. Ultimately, all of the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to the coming of Jesus and His complete payment for sin on the cross (see Heb 9:11-14).
It is important to understand that we do not deserve nor have we done anything to merit salvation. God’s offer of forgiveness and eternal life is the result of His grace, not our works. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”