What Jesus Taught About Grace & Faith

This is Section 1 of 2 of Lesson 4: The Wisdom of Christ’s Teachings. Click here to go back to the introduction of this lesson.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, NKJV).

Jesus is grace personified. And so therefore is God the Father full of grace and truth, given that Jesus is the ‘express image’ of the Father (Heb 1:3).

What is grace? Grace is God’s gift of salvation to us – unmerited by us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God Eph 2:8 (NKJV)

The Study Guide lists 5 items from the gospels which highlight how the teachings of Jesus illustrated the themes of grace and faith:

1. Peter Walking on the Water.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[a] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matt. 14:28-31

How could Peter ever forget his utter helplessness in the face of the deadly elements that surrounded him that night on the lake? His only recourse was to cry out to a Power beyond himself. And instantly the response was there! No delay. No need for penance. No complicated formula or requirement. Just three words, coming naturally from his extreme desperation: “Lord, save me!” (Matt. 14:30, NIV). And immediately the hand of Jesus was on him. That is grace. ABSG-t p50.

2. Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard

This parable can be found by clicking on the following text link: Matt. 20:1-15.

This parable is interesting because it shows us clearly that the kingdom of heaven doesn’t work like a standard employer-employee relationship. Salvation doesn’t depend on how long you’ve been working in the ‘vineyard’, but just the fact that you are in there. This parable was further reinforced by Jesus’ reaction to the thief on the cross who decided at the last minute to follow Jesus. Jesus wasn’t deterred – His response was succinct and positive:

‘…you will be with Me in Paradise.’ Luke 23:43 (NKJV).

3. When Mary Washed and Kissed Jesus’ Feet:

The full account is worth reading at Luke 7:36-48 to get the full story.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.”

“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Luke 7:39-44 NKJV

This is an interesting story. Is Jesus saying He likes it when people sin greatly, so they can be forgiven much and hence love much? I’ll leave that one out there for you to respond to in the comments below?

4. The Prodigal Son

This has to be one of the best parables in the whole Bible, summing up both our own natures and how God responds.

Even though you know it well, have another read through at Luke 15:11-31 – you might see something new this time!

My favourite part of the parable (apart from the obvious – the grace of restoration bestowed by the father on the son) is the following (my emphasis added):

But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. v20.

What do you like about this parable?

5. The Woman Caught in Adultery – John 8:1-11

I remember a great sermon where this passage was where the preacher said Jesus was at His best – not that there weren’t many other instances that vied for such an award.

We’ve covered this before (in this post: How Jesus Interacted With Women).

However in short Jesus both acts in utmost sensitivity to the woman, reassuring her that she is not condemned, but at the same time, encouraging her to leave her destructive ways and ‘sin no more’.

There are many other passages that could demonstrate more of the truth of God’s grace, but I think the Study guide has picked up a great set of 5 to get us going.

A couple of questions to ponder.

  1. Are we saved by faith or works? (Note this is a trick question… refer to Ephesians 2:8 as noted above).
  2. How does grace and faith and works interact. To help answer this, you might need the following texts in addition to Eph 2:8.
    1. Ephesians 2:10
    2. James 2:18-20

As always, we’re interested in your comments below.

Click here to go to the next section: What Jesus Taught about Forgiveness.

** Sections noted as “ABSG-t” are extracts taken from the Adult Bible Study Guide, teachers edition for this week. This guide in it’s entirety can be found here.

9 responses to “What Jesus Taught About Grace & Faith

  1. JR Jake

    You can pick and choose individual verses throughout the Bible to complete a context and create a story unto itself. To read Chapters for the messages is the best way to evaluate the value and worth of the message.

    The Prodigal Son is you and me who had walked away seeking our own way and found a barren land but only after we had tasted all the fruits that abounded within the lands. Thinking we had given it all up and had nothing in return to our Father, we were overjoyed to know he accepted us back knowing we had blown our inheritance of gifts and talents.

    However those that continue to lead their lives with disregard for themselves and others, the ‘grace’ bestowed by the father is not always available, especially when there is a level of defiance and no remorse. That is a message not enough people hear, but should open their eyes to see and tilt their ear to hear. Blessings to all.

  2. Dixbag

    My comments concern the prodigal son story which I believe was the last in a series of three parables to explain the working of God’s grace. I perceive that the story is directed to the pharisees who didn’t appreciate Jesus’ interaction with “sinners”, Just like the older son didn’t see any value in celebrating a prodigals’ return. God’s grace enabled a lost soul to be restored not as a servant, but as a son, with all privileges. Thats what grace does. And many who don’t know the fathers heart do stumble- Just like the big Bro. God bless

  3. Andrew

    To the commenter above; could you be specific about where in the parable you see this thought?:
    ———————-
    “Thinking we had given it all up and had nothing in return to our Father, we were overjoyed to know he accepted us back knowing we had blown our inheritance of gifts and talents.

    However those that continue to lead their lives with disregard for themselves and others, the ‘grace’ bestowed by the father is not always available, especially when there is a level of defiance and no remorse.”
    ——————–

    This seems to be an interposition on the parable. If anything, the young man “came to himself”. He didn’t “think he gave it all up” he actually did. He, after all returned to his father.

    In context the passage actually is addressing the Pharisees, who were like the “faithful son”. This is very clear from verse 1. They had nothing but scorn for the tax collectors and sinners who “drew near to Him”. They couldn’t stand them.

  4. Ralph

    Comments on #1 – Peter
    When one acts in accordance with the promises of God, you will always be on a firm foundation.

    Comment on #2: This story illustrates the “master” rewards all with an even hand:. At the end of the day, work is valued evenly. Some will enter the kingdom by the skin of their teeth–but if one makes it by an inch, his reward will be just as great as the one who made it by a mile–all are equal in the kingdom of heaven.

    Comment on # 3:
    This woman’s actions demonstrate obedience to the first commandment.

    Comment on #4:
    God’s love and compassion is unconditionally–all seekers–sinners great and small– have access tot he kingdom of God when tye act to clean the slate.

    Comment on #5: Reading this, I ask myself, “What would the Good Samaritan do?”
    Instead of throwing stones, perhaps he would find a way to help the woman in accordance with her need–as Jesus did, when he told her to go and and sin no more.

    A questionb: If grace replaced the Law, why did Jesus spend so much time teaching the essence of the Law? If the Law? If the concept of grace is so critically important to salvation, why didn’t Jesus mention “grace” during the course of his ministry on earth, Ub akk if the New Testament, Jesus never once utters the word “grace.” Not once.

    In the Gospels, the word “grace” is mentioned five times: Luke 2:40 and four times in the Gospel of John (John 1:14-17 (KJV). Neither of these passages was written by one who walked and talked with Jesus. Most biblical scholars agree that the Gospel of John, written between 90-100 CD, was composed by someone other than the Apostle John, who is said to have been an illiterate fisherman in the Bible.

    Paul, on the other hand, uses the word “grace” innumerable times in the NT books attributed to him. Paul, of course, never met Jesus and claims that the gospel he himself taught , he learned from no man.
    So, I understand that Paul claimed that grace had replaced the Law, not Jesus.

    But how can one speak or write of what Jesus taught about “grace” –a word he never used?

    • Justin Nel

      Jesus never taught law whilst on earth. He always responded to the Pharisees questions who presumed to test him by the law. Jesus elevated the law to a higher condition to show our need for a savior.
      Truth and grace came by Jesus and he perfected the law that we may become perfect through his mercy, sacrifice and love.
      The rich man came before Jesus boasting of how he had kept the law – but Jesus elevated the law to expose the one thing he lacked…”The rich man coveted his wealth”.
      We cannot achieve righteousness by obeying the very law God gave us without understanding the reason why the law was given
      For God gave his Laws That we may know we of our need for a Savior. For God so loved us he entered his own creation to perfect the law so that our sins could be punished in his body.
      He did this by washing our feet, and laying down his life so that he could find his rest on the cross for “our redemption”. IT IS FINISHED.
      Jesus is the Word, He is Grace, He is Truth. How then can it be said he never mentioned grace. All glory to my King, my Savior……Amen

  5. Thabiso

    Salvation is a gift of God ,which we believe,therefore through faith we are saved.The gift is ”God giving & sending His only Son Jesus to die for man ,so to redeem man through the perfect sacrifice & through the blood that was shed” ,whereby we did nothing that qualified us as deserving ,or merited us therefore.
    Grace being what brings salvation with faith therefore we accept & welcome salvation.Believing our sins:past ,present & future are forgiven.

  6. Manuel

    I have to say in Hebrew grace had a special meaning.The word joy.think about it, read some of the scriptures and put the word joy in the place of grace. Jesus never said you would be saved by grace . But your faith will save you only if you have works. For without works your faith is dead. Therefore without works and faith there can be no grace. Jesus gave us a pattern to follow to try to be like him
    It is not an easy one to follow… but we must try. we make mistakes and we know when we do the holy spirit will tell us in that quite little voice we are doing something wrong.we know as christian when we are doing something wrong . we cant hide it from god . But we can hide it from man .Part of works is over coming the world . And the things of the world Its a different kind of works. The only way the prodigal son got grace from his father was . He had to come home . and his father was full of joy. Building churches and helping the hungry giving money to charities will not save . Doing the things Jesus taught saves’

  7. Nikki

    Manuel, you hit the nail on the head!
    “The only way the prodigal son got grace from his father was . He had to come home”………..

    Also, like Andrew said,
    “If anything, the young man “came to himself”.”

    The prodigal son came to himself, I would think after he remembered the words and ways of his father. Under the Law, you had to present a blood sacrifice for the remission of sins; Under Grace, we can be attoned through Christ Jesus’ blood. We can now come bodly before His throne. Let’s remember when we are talking about Grace, let’s remember and teach that this is Jesus Christ’s Grace and that Jesus is Grace! This grace covers a multitude of sins, but it has to be through a repentant heart (not a proud heart). Let’s always teach the Biblical version of Grace and not Constantine’s version.

    I hate the phrase, Once Saved, Always Saved. That has thrown the Church in a loop!

    Let’s just say, If any man (a conditional statement) is in Christ, all things are passed away and behold all things are new!

    Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound? What was Paul’s answer?
    “No!”

    Be Blessed

  8. Nikki

    *correction*

    2 Corinthians 5:17

    King James Version (KJV)

    17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

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