For the law of grace to enter in, the law of works had to be put out of commission. But Jesus clarified, “Do not think that I have come to undo or invalidate Moses’ Law or the writings of the prophets. I have come to complete and fulfill them.” Jesus knew that, for the time it was in effect, the Mosaic Law was divinely ordered and unfortunately necessary. But He also knew His sacrifice and resurrection would complete that phase of God’s dealings with man, and the New Covenant sealed with His life was infinitely better.
There are two historical occurrences that define the larger part of God's grace for mankind. They are Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. The blessings and rewards of both are freely given Him to bestow mercy upon our to those who will accept them in faith. God's grace is the result of His infinite love. His grace was working in our lives even before we were believers. His pity for us compelled wretched, undeserving souls. Jesus said, "...no one can reach the Father except through Me", and Peter wrote, "There is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
The Sacrifice and Forgiveness
In Matthew 20:28 Jesus said, "The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and pay the price (of the cross) to set free all those who are slaves to their sinful nature." "Jesus offered Himself on our behalf (in place of us) to purchase our freedom from all iniquity and to purify a people with His unique mark who are enthusiastic about living a life of good deeds." "Jesus' blood has formally authorized God's new covenant of grace with man." "It is in Christ whom we have been purchased from death through His lifeblood, which means the forgiveness of our sins." The psalmist David wrote, "Happy are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered up and completely buried (with Christ)." The former sins of the new believer are not only covered, but they are considered by God as never having occurred. "For I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins, and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more." This is the only way the human race can be restored to its proper relationship with God as it was before the Fall. "All things are from God, who, through Jesus Christ, received us into favor and harmony with Himself...in order to present you holy, faultless and irreproachable in the Father's presence." Christ's unique sacrifice atoned for the sins of all ages. Believers before the crucifixion, such as Abraham, were saved by faith in God's future plan of redemption, though they may not have fully comprehended it. They expressed their faith in their obedience to God's ordained sacrificial system. Post-crucifixion Christians are saved by faith in God's Word.
The Resurrection and Eternal Life
God's grace was not completed through the death of His Son. Jesus had to be victorious over the tomb (grave) and death itself introduced by the original sin in order to open the door to eternal life for all who trust in the gospel. It is not possible to enter the timeless kingdom of God by believing in a Christ who was never risen.
When we confess Christ as our Master and Savior, we are given a new life as a direct result of Jesus' resurrection. Paul admonished the saints to take full advantage of their clean slate. "We were therefore buried with Him by the baptism into death (of our old, sinful selves), so that just as Christ was raised from the dead, by the power of the Father, we might also live and behave accor-ding to the newness of life. So do not continue yielding your body to sin, but offer yourselves to God, and live as though you have already been perfected in resurrection while yet on earth."
We cannot hope to fully comprehend Christ's grace while we possess our human nature. Paul wrote concerning this human limitation, "Now, in our bodies, our spiritual knowledge is incomplete and imperfect...We are looking into a mirror that gives a dark, blurred reflection of who we are in Christ. But when the final phase of our perfection comes (our incorruptible body), we will fully comprehend true reality, as we are face to face with our Creator. Then we will fully know Him as He has known us." I John 3:2 reads, "Beloved, although we are here and now children of God, it is not yet made clear what we will be hereafter as eternal beings. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will resemble and be like Him (in our new bodies) and finally fully comprehend who He is. In both very clear verses, the full understanding of God and His glorious salvation cannot be fully understood or appreciated in the mortal body.
Hebrews 9:28 says that Christ will bring with Him the full completion of His salvation. Peter wrote that the end result of our faith, in other words our salvation, will be shown at the revealing of Christ in the clouds. God has determined that He will not accomplish true spiritual perfection within His children while they are in the flesh. But just as Jesus is the Source or Author of our faith through His death, He is the Finisher or Perfecter of our faith through His resurrection.
The Body, Soul, Spirit, Natures and New Creation
In Genesis 2:7, God formed Adam's body, his flesh, organs, muscles, bone, etc. Then God breathed life, or spirit into Adam, and he became a living, breathing, animated being able to think rationally. The Bible calls this package of body and spirit the soul. I will let you decide how this information affects your opinion on the abortion issue. At the time of death, a person's spirit returns to the Father who gave it, and what is left in the grave is biblically called a dead soul (a body that has lived as a distinct person).
When we are born, we have inherited a sinful nature from Adam and Eve's original sin. A nature is simply a particular set of principles that comprise a consciousness that compels a way of living. Through God's gift of Christ, we are given a spiritual nature. The thoughts and actions of the sinful nature satisfy the needs and wants of the ego. The thoughts and actions of the spiritual nature always glorify and please God. While the sinful nature can invent an endless variety of evil, the spiritual nature has a limitless capacity for spiritual growth (in this lifetime and the next).
This spiritual nature is part of the new creation we become in Christ. We are called a new creation because we are different than we were before. Before, left to only our mortal bodies and our sinful nature, we had no hope of finding favor in God's eyes on judgment day. Our spiritual nature can be thought of as a direct line to God through the working of the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind, our sinful nature is still with us in full force, but the great news is the believer is provided with whatever natural and supernatural assistance they need to keep them from ever being a slave to sin again. Praise God!