‘”For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”
The word “grace” is used 155 times in the New Testament — over one hundred of them in the writings of Paul, and almost a fourth of those in the book of Romans (24 times). Grace is the heart of the book of Romans, the heart of the gospel, and the heart of God.
Grace is not God’s response to our deserving or meriting. Grace is God’s free gift before we do anything good, and grace is His enabling power for us to do anything good. In Romans 4.4, Paul says, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited according to grace, but according to debt.”
In other words, grace is not what you get when you work for somebody: that’s what he owes you. Grace is different; it is never owed. God’s grace is a gift; it is unmerited favor that flows from His love for us.
For that reason, grace is received through faith, not earned by works. You can only receive grace as a gift and acknowledge that it comes to you freely; you can’t work for it or earn it.
“For this reason it [being an heir of the promise] is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace.” (Romans 4.16)
“If it [election] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11.6)
This is Paul’s way of saying that grace is absolutely free and cannot be deserved or merited. When grace comes to you, it is received through faith or not at all.
So we have seen that grace is a power from God for ministry (like Paul’s apostleship). It is free and cannot be earned or deserved. It is received as a gift by faith, not merited by works.
“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” (Romans 5.15)
“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5.20-21)