Is “unmerited” really unmerited?



Every believer I know agrees that a short definition of grace is “unmerited favor.”  However most believers don’t really believe what they say.

If grace is unmerited, then the extension of grace isn’t based in what you do.

Grace is never extended because of your good behaviors. God never extends grace to you because you live morally, give generously, pray regularly, read your Bible daily, go to church weekly, serve joyfully, or any other good behavior.

Grace is never withheld because of your bad behaviors. The Bible clearly says, “where sin increased – grace abounded all the more (Rom. 5:20)”  The Bible is full of examples of bad people receiving grace.

If grace is unmerited, then what can you do?  You can make Jesus you point of confidence for life.

Rom. 5:2 says, “Through (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith (not behaviors)  into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”  — Maybe you better read that again and let it sink in.  I’ll wait.  Maybe you better read it one more time.  🙂

Stop making behaviors your point of confidence
and believe in Jesus

Love Jesus because of free grace.

Do you have any thoughts about how can we learn to stop trusting ourselves and place our confidence in Jesus alone?

Grace Freak

Dan Rockwell

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14 Comments on “Is “unmerited” really unmerited?”

  1. landsway Says:

    Dan I think you have actually hit on one of the mysteries of the Word. I have been finding most of my writing now concentrating on trust and belief. I think if we actually believed what we say we believe, we would behave and live in a different manner. We might find our lives being a demonstration of power instead of enticing words.

  2. Jorge F Says:

    True. But why then does Jesus command us to do certain things?

    I know that we aren’t required to do things by law anymore, but aren’t we sort of “obligated” (kind of) to folow Christ’s teachings (not out of duty, but out of love?)

    • Dan Rockwell Says:


      Lets love Him for what He has and is doing for, in and through us.

      His commands are expressions of love just like mercy or grace. Our obedience is an expression of love as well.

      Thanks for jumping in Jorge..

      Be well


  3. Ashlin Says:

    I love how the simplicity of “by grace, through faith, in Jesus” contrasts

    “by grace, through obedience/evangelism/prayer/bible reading/miracles/tongues/healing, through Jesus”.

    Hopefully that makes sense.

  4. Dan Rockwell Says:


    It’s really easy to be a “plus” Christian. By faith PLUS obeying. By grace PLUS praying. By Jesus PLUS my efforts.

    It’s can be terrifying to let go of PLUS Christianity and live by grace ALONE though faith ALONE in Jesus ALONE.

    This sounds so great I’m going to preach it this Sunday!


    Grace Freak Dan


  5. Ed Underwood Says:

    Without faith it is impossible to please Him. Grace has to be unmerited, or it wouldn’t be grace. If there were merit to grace, then the cross makes no sense. God would have just said, “Earn my love!”

    Great post. Grace rocks!

  6. Dan Rockwell Says:

    Thanks for jumping in Ed… Love it when you say, “Earn my love!” I’m using that line in the future!

    Regards Dan

  7. Jared Young Says:

    Top notch stuff Dan,
    I just started reading your blog today because I saw your comment on Jon Acuff’s site. I was really encouraged by this post. I have been training to be a tribal church planter for almost 4 years now, I head to Thailand next year to start learning Thai then from there move into a tribe, learn their language and culture then eventually present them the Gospel. The most challenging thing for me in all of that? Showing grace to those that do not deserve it. Standing in the sphere of God’s grace is challenging when the flaming arrows of the enemy are on my doorstep. But as I read in Ephesians 6 this morning Paul gave a simple command before laying out how to apply the armor of God. He said “stand or stand firm”. My initial reaction is to kick up my feet and let the LazyBoy do the rest, but we are to stand firm in the sphere of God’s grace, showing that grace to others around us, even if they don’t deserve if. (who deserve’s grace anyway?)

  8. Dan Rockwell Says:


    Thank you for dropping in and thank you for your encouraging words.

    I know grace is touching you because you aren’t a faker…

    Are you with NTM?

    Grace is yours,

  9. Eric Says:

    christ was not a legalist he said to repent of your sins that is a work. if you say that doing something that christ said to do is the sin of legalism you oppose christ and opposing christ is antichrist.
    repent dan rockwell of your definition of legalism it is not the biblical definition, the pharisies were called hypocrites not for obeying,
    is was for not obeying. your way too smart to be this stupid!

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