Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Grace is a perfection of the divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New, is the grace of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with the lower orders of His creatures. In this it is distinguished from “mercy,” for the mercy of God is “over all His works” (Psalm 145:9). Grace is the sole source from which flows the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His chosen people. This attribute of the divine character was defined by Abraham Booth in his helpful book “The Reign of Grace” thus: “It is the eternal and absolute free favor of God, manifested in the bestowment of spiritual and eternal blessings to the guilty and the unworthy.”
Divine grace is the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in the bestowment of blessings upon those who have no merit in them and for which no compensation is demanded from them. Nay, more; it is the favor of God shown to those who not only have no positive deserts of their own, but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving. It is completely unmerited and unsought, and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is said to be of “grace,” we mean that the recipient has no claim upon it, that it was in nowise due him. It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked and undesired.
The fullest exposition of the amazing grace of God is to be found in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. In his writings “grace” stands in direct opposition to works and worthiness, all works and worthiness, of whatever kind or degree. This is abundantly clear from Romans 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Grace and works will no more unite than an acid and an alkali. “By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8,9). The absolute favor of God can no more consist with human merit than oil and water will fuse into one (see also Rom 4:4,5).
A. W. Pink (1886-1952)
Taken from “The Attributes of God”