To me, "Grace is the energizing force of God's love toward all who will receive it." Others have said it is "God's love in action." Webster's Dictionary defines grace, in its theological setting, as "the unmerited love and favor of God toward man," etc. Just pick the one you like best!
The fact is that every dispensation of God is an adjunct to Grace; for without Grace, whether it be The Revealed Plan or The Hidden Purpose, (see our papers, "My Gospel" and "The Mystery - As is Now Revealed") they would not - - nor could they - - function. Take, for example, the case of Cain and Abel. Abel was accepted (Gen. 4:4, Heb. 11:4), and Cain was rejected (Gen. 4:3, 5-25). It follows, Cain and Abel would typify The Revealed Plan; whereas Eph. 2:8a ("for by grace you are") would typify The Hidden Purpose. As you can see, Grace is not a new means of God's activity, but is as old as time.
Therefore, when we speak of "The Dispensation of the Mystery" (i.e., The Hidden Purpose), we are speaking of our Lord's action in Sovereign Grace (i.e., "The Dispensation of Grace," Eph. 3:2-3). In other words, our Lord has, so to speak, limited Himself to Grace alone (dispensation-wise). This is to say: if He cannot deal with you in Grace, He just will not deal with you - -period. Hence, "by grace you are..." (Eph. 2:8a ).
In the days of His flesh, our Lord promised: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). He also promised that with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit "will guide you into (the) all truth" (John 16:13). Needless to say, this could never take place until the Word of God was complete. It follows then -- with the Mystery completing the Word of God (Col. 1:26) -- that for the first time in all history, this opportunity and time had arrived! (Col. 1:26-28 - -see verse 28).
Consequently, the Dispensation of the Mystery, through the Dispensation of Grace, is now presented to the saints for faith-obedience (see our papers: "Obedience is Better than Sacrifice," and "The Mystery - Its Reality, the Practical Side."): "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Col. 2:6) - - that is, if you desire to be a free man. No question about it, this demonstrates both dispensations, i.e., The Mystery Dispensation as an adjunct to The Dispensation of Grace.
Strange as it may seem, even the World takes note concerning the activity of grace; not grace per se, but rather its results. Listen to what they have to say: "Love makes the world go round," or in a more vain way they say, "Love is the greatest discovery since the wheel," etc. Of course, the World makes no connection with Love and Grace. They say it in an amusing way. Nevertheless, the World bears testimony to the actions of Grace; for it is written, "by thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matt. 12:37). You see, even the Devil himself bears testimony in a negative way when he casts doubt about the truthfulness of God: "ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4).
We have said all of this in order to say: Yes, love does make the world go round...but Grace is the energizing force that moves love. Some years back, a Mr. Drummond wrote a paper on I Cor. 13, entitled "(Love is) The Greatest Thing in the World." How true . But love is a dormant attribute without grace. Think about it! You see, almost everything is an adjunct to Grace - -how about that? Someone has said that "familiarity breeds contempt." In any case, this paper should arouse you never to take Grace for granted! Mac.