Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 3 March 2014
Page 12

The Aroma of Grace

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. UnderwoodI remember as a young boy growing up in West Tennessee, walking the two and a half miles from the schoolhouse to our home on those cold wintry days, how pleasant it was to smell the wood smoke as I would drew nearer the house. When I smelled that smoke I knew that my mother was preparing some sort of warm treat for a very cold boy. I am sure that many of you readers could relate some similar experiences. As I revive those sweet memories, it brings to my mind what I have used as the title of this article: “The Aroma of Grace.”

According to the concordance in my computer, the word “grace”appears 170 times in 159 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. It first appears in Genesis 6:8 where it is stated: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Let us think about that verse for a moment. The context tells us of the wicked conditions that existed in the world at that time. We are told that “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth…” (v. 5). It is further stated that He determined to destroy man from the face of the earth (v. 7). The next verse begins with “But…” This verse says, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” In that wicked and perverse world of mankind stood one whose life and actions shone brightly. It was this man and his family who found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Ah, the sweet aroma!

The simplest, yet profound definition of the word “grace”is “unmerited favor.” Someone gives a gracious invitation to come for a meal that has been prepared with us in mind. Certainly, we did not earn or merit this free and wonderful meal, but it was by the grace of the host and hostess that it was provided. As this word is used in reference to God, it simply means that He gives something of which we are not worthy, and which we can do nothing to earn or merit. This gift is justification; it is salvation. We are told of this gift in both Romans 3:24 and Ephesians 2:8.

Now, let’s go back to Noah. Being the object of God’s grace, he was given the provisions of that grace. In Hebrews 11:7 it is written that Noah, by faith, built the ark that God had instructed him to build. This ark was for the saving of himself and his family. His salvation was a gift of God’s grace, and yet, he had to fulfill the requirements given by the Giver for the acceptance of the gift. After Noah fulfilled the requirements of acceptance of this grace, it is written, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Genesis 6:22). We then learn from Peter, as recorded in 1 Peter 1:20, that Noah was saved by his obedience. Thus, we have an example of how “by grace are ye saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). Let us now note how grace and justification are connected

Paul wrote in Romans 3:24, “…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” Let us examine this passage in its context. We note: (1) The righteousness of God is apart from the Law (v. 21). (2) The righteousness of God is available to all through faith in Christ (v. 22). (3) All have sinned and are in need of redemption or forgiveness (v. 23). (4) Justification comes by grace, and that through the redemption that is in Christ (v. 24). (5) It is through the blood of Christ that grace is offered and redemption is available.

Two more verses that deal with the subjects of grace and redemption are Ephesians 1:7, which says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Then, Titus 2:11 reads, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men…” In Titus, we learn that God’s grace is offered to all men. Man’s acceptance of that grace depends on looking to Jesus “who gave Himself that He might redeem us” (vs. 13-14). In the Ephesian epistle, we are plainly told that we have redemption through His blood.

Let us now review what has been said. (1) We are justified by grace. (2) This grace is applied as we look to – have faith in – Jesus. (3) All have sinned and thus are in need of the salvation or redemption. (4) Redemption is through and by the blood of Christ.

Remembering that Romans 3:24 states that we are justified by grace, let us look again at this justification. Is it by grace only or alone? Certainly not! If so, it would exclude faith, yet in this same epistle of Romans, Paul wrote: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1). Again we ask, is it by faith alone? If so it would eliminate grace and have Paul contradicting himself in the same epistle. Then, does this justification come only by grace and faith? What saith the Scriptures? Look at Romans 5:9 – the same chapter: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Since one is justified by the blood of Christ, the question arises, how does one contact the blood that redeems us? Here is where faith and obedience are active. By faith we know that Jesus shed His blood in his death (cf. John 19). By faith we learn that we are baptized into the death of Christ (Romans 6:3-4), and are then raised to walk in newness of life. Please notice at this point that man learns by faith of the command of God to be baptized for the remission of sins. Remission of sins is equal in all of its parts to forgiveness of sins and redemption (cf. Acts 2:28; Colossians 1:13-14).

Let us notice one more passage, and then see how all of these we have used are connected in a central thought or teaching. James wrote concerning justification: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). According to Paul, we are saved by grace through faith. Yet, redemption or forgiveness is through the blood of Christ. To contact or apply the blood one must by faith (faith that comes by hearing God’s word) be baptized into the death of Christ where the blood was shed, so that he might have the remission of sins. When this is done, we have man being saved by grace, through faith without having done a single thing of which he can boast or claim merit.

Thank God for His wonderful grace! “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).


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