Key Verse – “…how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!”
Tozer writes, “In God mercy and grace are one; but as they reach us they are seen as two, related but not identical.”
Grace is God’s mercy put into action. We may see mercy as a matter of forgiving and forgetting, to turn the other cheek, to not retaliate when retaliation is deserved. In our humanity we are capable of doing this. God is capable of doing this in respect to many things – preventing calamity, healing sickness, causing miracles to happen.
But once again it comes down to our sin. God cannot just turn the other way. He’s not capable of just changing His mind and choosing to pretend our sin did not occur. That is why grace is needed.
Many have seen or heard the acronym for grace – God’s Righteousness at Christ Expense. Mercy can be extended to any problem. A person shows up late for work, the boss can extend mercy and overlook the infraction. A driver is pulled over for speeding and the cop lets them off with a warning. There is nothing more that needs to be done.
Grace however, is the result of a payment that has already been made. The word mercy occurs slightly more often in the Old Testament than the New. However, grace occurs ten times as often in the New Testament as the Old. The New Testament is all about the price that Christ paid on the cross. It is the story of His righteousness and how God applied it to humanity.
Grace in the Old Testament
The Old Testament is not absent of grace. As we’ve constantly observed, God did not change and thus He did not just become a graceful God in the New Testament. Instead, grace was extended as the Old Testament believer obeyed God and followed His commands. The OT believer did not earn their salvation any more than a Christian does today. Instead, God credited them with righteousness – the same righteousness that we have gained at Christ’s expense. Romans 4 tells the story of Abraham believed God and was credited with righteousness.