Grace : A Study of God's Good Gifts

Grace is the word that describes God's blessing brought into our lives despite our unworthiness.

If we only got what we deserved, then we should be most desperate and poor. What would we get? If we truly understood ourselves, we would affirm the only thing God owes us is judgment. We are grateful, however, that God has held off our judgment, put it on Christ, so that He might bring all sorts of blessings into our lives. Let's take a look at some of these good gifts that come from His grace.

We need to realize that when God brought His grace into our lives, we were not brought into a low level of His goodness. Due to our weakness and corrupt nature, God could have easily given us some good things in His great pity. For example, this is like giving a dollar to a homeless person. He is better off but his situation is hardly alleviated. But we see the very opposite here. We see a outpouring of grace that goes up and up and ends in heaven for eternity.

Ephesians 2:1-3 speaks of our great undeserving state. Born sinners. Love for sin. Dead in our sins. This is the black backdrop for the brilliant display of God's grace, much like a set of fireworks uses the night to show off its sparkling brilliance.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3).

From the lowest point possible, God lifted us upward three times.

  • Made us alive together with Christ (5)
  • Raised us up with Him (6) and
  • Seated us with Him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (6)

He then moves on into our future for our human lives cannot fully embrace God's full blessings on earth.

  • He might show the surpassing riches of his grace (7)

Grace is interweaved in these first two chapters of Ephesians and used as a reminder so that we do not forget it was for God' glory and by His grace that we are saved. A common sin is to forget God's goodness is by grace and to think we deserve this goodness. This arrogance often brings God's people into a backslidden state of pure religiosity. God did not bring us into a low entry level of His grace but abundantly poured His grace out upon His people. He calls us His coheirs (Ephesians 1:11,14) and that we will rule (Revelation 1:6) and judge with Him (1 Cor 6:2-3). In this same treatment, we see Him distributing spiritual gifts to His people.

Recipients' Attitude of God's Grace (Ephesians 4:1-6)

The more Paul speaks of God's undeserved blessings, the more we see Him giving urgings and commands to remember God's grace (see 2:5). In Ephesians 4 we are told to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called. Indeed part of this is a holy calling, but I think we would miss out on his major focus if we did not think of it as a gracious calling. Starting in 4:2 the qualities that are mentioned all are an outworking of experiencing God's grace. The attributes of God's grace are often neglected among those who speak highly of God's gifts. Paul knows the opposite is needed.

  • humility
  • gentleness
  • patience
  • showing forbearance
  • being diligent to preserve unity

God's grace demands that we are gracious. The grace of God is the source of each of these character qualities listed. Only after clearly doing this, does Paul go on and speak of a special aspect of this grace: His good gifts (1).

The greatest gift is not the gifts themselves but that God had actually entrusted us with His special goodness to bless others.

God's special grace (Ephesians 4:7-16)

"But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." (Ephesians 4:7). Spiritual gifts are also mentioned in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Peter 4.

We can't escape these reminders of God's grace. God's undeserved goodness has been poured out all over us. We are soaked in His love and grace. Christ in His service was rewarded with certain gifts. We see how He distributed these to His people -
"each of us." What was it that He gave? Paul doesn't get too involved here, but he makes a short list of the major equipping gifts.

  • Apostles
  • Prophets
  • Evangelists
  • Pastors and Teachers

The point of these gifts: functions and offices (2) is to build up the body of Christ so that the whole body of Christ might rightly function. We should conclude that any time grace is given and graciousness does not result, something is wrongly being used. Or we could say that anytime God's people are not being built up, His people are squandering His precious gifts. We have what is needed if we cooperate and work together. May God take our petty jealousies away and learn to depend on the gifts of others rather than promoting our own.


We can miss the most important meaning of what Christ has done here if we are not careful. The greatest gift is not the gifts themselves but that God had actually entrusted us with His special goodness to bless others. God did not want to keep the disposing of His goodness to Himself. God employed us in this act. We clearly see God's grace in action here. God might have had pity upon us, but He put us in such a place that we are to share the act of giving out grace. We are no longer beggars but sharing God's riches. Our Christian lives will radically change when we rightly view God's grace and actively engage in distributing His grace. Our prayers, preaching, teaching and evangelism will be dramatically changed.

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

(1) Paul has done a similar thing in I Corinthians. He spoke much about God's good gifts in chapters 12 and 14, but right in the middle he inserted the 'love chapter' of the Bible that would regulate how these good gifts are used (I Corinthians 13).
(2) There is much discussion on whether these be gifts or positions. One focuses on what he does while the other his authority. The more ecclesiastical would focus on only the later point. Interestingly, many in traditional churches have ignored the first two categories of apostles and prophets. I believe this is largely due on the felt need to protect the holy scriptures from extra revelation.