It will be much easier to answer the question of “what is the gospel?” when we can answer the question “what is grace?” I have just started reading Jerry Bridges book called Transforming Grace and I decided to include a section from the preface of the book.
“The grace of God is one of the most important subjects in all of Scripture. At the same time it is probably one of the least understood.
All Christians by definition believe in grace. Many of us frequently quote Paul’s well-known words in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” And John Newton’s beloved hymn “Amazing Grace” is said to be the all-time favorite hymn in the United States. Why then do I say the grace of God is one of the least understood subjects in the Bible?
When we think of grace, we almost always think of being saved by grace. That is why Ephesians 2:8-9 is so familiar to us. Even Christian literature available on the subject of grace seems to deal almost exclusively with salvation. But the Bible teaches we are not only saved by grace, but we also live by grace every day of our lives. It is this important aspect of grace that seems to be so little understood or practiced by Christians.
My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well – whatever “well” is in our opinion – then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to the attitude of the Apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those who help themselves.”
The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; this truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.”