The theological system of dispensationalism divides history into seven ages or dispensations, with the age of grace being the sixth.
Sometimes called the dispensation of grace or the church age, the age of grace is the age in which we are currently living. It began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and will continue until Jesus returns or when He begins reigning forever in the New Jerusalem, depending on the doctrine or theology adhered to.
The age of grace was ushered in because of Jesus' death on the cross in our place, and through the power of the resurrection. God's grace is shown in that He, through His Son Jesus, provided a sacrifice for us to pay the penalty for our sin against Him. Titus 2:11 says, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people."
Previously, God set up a system of sacrifice and rules to follow for His people, the Israelites. This was the dispensation of Law and foretold Jesus's sacrifice (John 1:29). John 1:17 says, "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17). We are no longer under law, but under grace (Romans 6:15).
To be clear, God always has been and always will be gracious. It is not as if grace is exclusive to our current period in history. More specifically, salvation has always been an act of God's grace, received through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9; Hebrews 11). Those living under the law experienced God's grace in multiple ways, not the least of which was God's provision of a temporary system to make atonement for sins and His promise of a Messiah. Their faith in Him was credited to them as righteousness (Romans 4:13–25). The repeated sacrifices made under the law foreshadowed Jesus' one-time sacrifice (Hebrews 10:1–10).
God desires that all people experience His grace. He commands that the story of His grace through Jesus be made know to all people, everywhere (Matthew 28:19–20; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Indeed, "Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful" (Psalm 116:5).
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