The Apostle Paul was chosen by God to make known and explain at least two great revelations. The first of these was the Gospel itself —good news of salvation through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the great epistles —Romans, I and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians —Paul develops at length this first revelation. The second was the truth of the Church as the body of Christ. In the epistles written in prison, he deals to a very large extent with the second of these revelations —the Church as the body of Christ.
Paul gives us the climax of the second theme of the good news of salvation in Jesus. We call it the “Dispensation of the Grace of God.” This dispensation is the present Church, the Body of Christ. During this age of the Church, God is crediting His righteousness to humanity through an act of faith. What does this mean? Whoever believes and accepts God’s son, Jesus, God gives grace.
Paul writes to the Church at Rome, Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. This was a revelation for everyone. Almost all religions, including the Jewish faith, taught that forgiveness had to be earned. In the Jewish faith, the Law, as given by Moses, required people to live perfect lives. Under the Law, the Law demanded that all blessing be earned.
The difference? Grace was free. Grace is the unmerited love and favor of God toward humanity. There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s grace, it is something that is given to us. Here is the mystery of the Church as the body of Christ.