Someone asked me recently to clarify exactly what grace means. We use the word regularly here at First Trinity, as well as in the greater Lutheran and Christian Church. I told this person that it simply means “undeserved favor”, but it’s helpful to consider GRACE as an acronym for God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. We hold Ephesians 2:8-9 especially dear here. It reads:
For by 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. Ephesians 2:8-9
By grace you have been saved. It means that there’s nothing you did to deserve salvation, but rather, it is “undeserved favor”. It means that we are saved not because we do something, but simply because we believe and accept the free gift of God in Jesus (His riches at Christ’s expense).
We hear an excellent example of that grace today. Crucified with Jesus were two criminals on that ultimate Red Letter Day. One had a conversation with Jesus:
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:42-43
It was a simple statement of faith: remember me. This man was at the end of his life. In just a few short hours, like Jesus, he would be hanging dead on that cross. He had no hope of surviving this day. He had no way of “fixing” what he had done to deserve death. Facing the end of his earthly life, he called out to this man that others were mocking: “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus heard that cry of faith and responded with grace: Today you will be with me in Paradise. There would be no waiting period in purgatory to pay for his crimes. He didn’t release the man so he would have opportunity to pay for his crimes. Jesus simply demonstrated grace—undeserved favor—to a broken, desperate man who believed.