The Marvelous Age of Grace
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
—From the hymn “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” by Julia H. Johnston, 1911.
An amazing grace characterizes the present Church Age. This dispensation began with the Holy Spirit indwelling and sealing the brethren during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, or Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4), and will culminate with the church’s sudden removal when Jesus returns in the air (1 Th. 4:17).
Today the church is God’s principle program to lead people to Him (Mt. 16:18). The church was a mystery (something hidden) during the Old Testament period but was later revealed, as the apostle Paul explained:
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel (Eph. 3:1–6).
Both Jewish and Gentile individuals form the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12–25). The purpose of the church is to glorify God and tell the world of God’s grace—a commodity not everyone understands.
Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40). Yet, for many, the major transgression during this period is the rejection of God’s grace (2 Tim. 3:1–7).
American theologian Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871–1952), founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary, said grace “is not mercy or love.” He defined it as “what God may be free to do and indeed what He does accordingly for the lost after Christ has died on behalf of them. ‘By grace are ye saved’ (Eph. 2:8).”1
It is through grace that individuals obtain eternal salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (vv. 8–9). It speaks of the good news of Christ: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4). The precious blood of Christ purchased redemption for humanity (1 Pet. 1:19).
God gives His grace freely: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). Grace provides a perfect position and unending peace with God through Christ (Col. 1:21). Yet still more benefits are associated with God’s gracious work during this age of grace, such as reconciliation; regeneration; justification; sanctification; and, eventually, glorification.
John Newton, author of the familiar hymn “Amazing Grace,” best described the personal reality of this marvelous age of grace: “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”2
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), 7:178.
- “Grace-Gratitude” <thegracetabernacle.org/quotes/Grace-Gratitude.htm>.