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It is as if the New Testament is literally bathed in grace. (Getty Images)

The word grace appears in the Old Testament only 37 times. But you will find it 122 times in the New Testament. Every epistle penned by the apostle Paul opens with the greeting, "Grace to you," and closes with similar words. It is as if the New Testament is literally bathed in grace. Notice the trend:

  • "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 1:7b).

  • "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Rom. 16:24). 

  • "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:3).

  • "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," (Gal. 1:3).

  • "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:2).

  • "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:2).

  • "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (1 Thess. 5:28).

  • "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Philem. 1:25).

  • "Grace to you and peace be multiplied" (1 Pet. 1:2).

  • "Grace to you and peace" (Rev. 1:4b).

And the closing words of the Bible are the same, in Revelation 22:21: "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen."

Why this continual flood of grace? John's Gospel reveals the secret when he writes: "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The Old Covenant couldn't give us true victory over sin because it was based on man's obedience to rules; the New Covenant guarantees forgiveness because it is based on the obedience of Jesus alone, not on our performance.

This is the essence of Christianity. We have been saved by grace through faith. Yet I meet so many Christians who struggle to receive grace, even though the Bible is dripping with it on every page. We find it difficult to believe that God really and truly loves us because we are so aware of our sinful past, our recurring sinful habits and our blatant weaknesses.

If you are struggling to understand true grace, open your heart and read the words below, and imagine that Jesus, the Lover of Our Souls, is saying them to you directly:

...Because of My grace, I am not angry with you. Because you have put your faith in Me, there is no condemnation, shame or guilt. I took all of your guilt on the cross. I have chosen to forgive and forget your sins. I have pronounced over you, "Not guilty!" Stop bringing up your past. There is nothing on your record! I have covered you with My blood, and I have made you righteous.

...Because of My grace, I am not disappointed in you. Even though you stumble often, and even though your flesh is weak, I see your heart is to please Me. Don't let your failures discourage you. I'm not counting your mistakes. I am patient and full of kindness. My grace is working powerfully to make you faithful. You are My beloved child, and I would never abandon you.

...Because of My grace, you don't have to strive to be perfect. When you first invited Me into your life, I placed My Spirit inside you. He began working at that moment to refine you, and He will not stop until you are transformed into My image. Stop striving and straining and sweating. You cannot change yourself. Let My Spirit do His miraculous work! Yield to Me, and I will change you from one level of glory to the next.

...Because of My grace, you can have a close and intimate relationship with Me. When I paid for your sins at Calvary, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. There is no separation now—I have invited you to live in My presence and to hear My voice. I am seeking those who will be My worshippers. I have been drawing you closer. Come away, My beloved, and spend time with Me. Seek Me with all your heart. I want to reveal Myself to you, face to face.

Because of grace, I have ransomed you from the enemy and claimed you as My own. Because of grace, I have delivered you from darkness and secured a place for you in heaven for eternity. Because of grace, I have adopted You into My family and given You My full inheritance. Because of grace, I no longer call you a slave—you are My friend. Don't let anything hinder you from receiving My grace! 

J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years before he launched into full-time ministry in 2010. Today he directs The Mordecai Project, a Christian charitable organization that is taking the healing of Jesus to women and girls who suffer abuse and cultural oppression. Author of several books including 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, he has just released his newest book, Set My Heart on Fire, from Charisma House. You can follow him on Twitter at @LeeGrady or go to his website, themordecaiproject.org.

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