Grace in the biblical sense refers to favor and goodness that God shows to mankind. Thus, any example of a good, kind or merciful act can be described as the grace of God. During the first century, a church with little guidance and oversight from the apostles experienced a great spiritual awakening. When news of this special anointing from God reached Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to see what was happening. According to Luke, Barnabas’ first impression was that he was an eyewitness of the grace of God at work.
The news of this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God [that was bestowed on them], he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with an unwavering heart to stay true and devoted to the Lord, Acts 11:22-23.
As soon as I read the passage above, I wanted to know what does the grace of God look like? Just as the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles in Caesarea, this same phenomena began to take place in Antioch. The words that Barnabas conveys to Luke is the bestowing of the grace of God. As Gentiles repented of their sins, turned to Jesus for forgiveness and were baptized, lives were transformed. While visiting Antioch, Barnabas spent time talking to these new converts. Based upon these conversations, Barnabas found unwavering hearts who stayed true and devoted to the Lord.
For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9 not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation], Ephesians 2:8-9.
Reading this portion of the book of Acts makes me wonder, where is the grace of God today? Is faith dead or has the sinful nature blinded modern Christians from recognizing the grace of God? The apostle Paul makes an interesting comment about grace in the passage above. Grace is all God as there is nothing human beings can take credit for. This gift is either accepted, put on hold for a while or rejected. When grace is embraced, this is accomplished through faith. However, Paul makes it clear that no one should boast or take credit in any way. In view of this, may the Holy Spirit open our eyes today so that we too can witness the grace of God.
by Jay Mankus