What Does Grace Mean
John Newtons story could apply to many of us. The subject of grace is vital to our spiritual well-being. Yet it is often misunderstood and at times even controversial because of the way grace has been abused, leading to permissiveness and lawlessness.
How would you define grace? If we asked different people, we would see different focuses put on the subject, different nuances from one person to another.
For some, the definition may be Gods goodness to an undeserving person. Others may see it as Gods unmerited pardon, the forgiveness of ones sins. Are these definitions correct? Absolutely! But is that all there is to the subject of grace? These are actually only a small part of the entire spectrum of all that is;grace.
The biblical study of grace is not too hard to grasp. It does involve looking into the definitions of the Hebrew and Greek words translated into English as grace and several related terms in the Bible. But this is not theological rocket science. It can be understood.
The Bible was written and compiled over a period of some 1,500 years, so as the word grace appears, which it does in the opening chapters of the Bible, we see different emphases placed on how it comes across and what it means.
What Is The Difference Between Grace And Mercy
Though often used interchangeably, grace and mercy differ in many ways.
In a nutshell, they are two sides of the same coin. Grace is a gift we dont deserve, while mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve.
Sounds confusing? Lets break it down bit by bit.
In the dictionary, grace is defined as courteous goodwill. Meaning, its not asked for nor deserved, but is freely given. Mercy, on the other hand, is the compassion and kindness shown to someone whom it is in ones power to punish or harm. It is an act meant to relieve someone of their suffering.
Lets put it this way: suppose someone attempted to rob your house. You learned that the robber was just in a desperate situation and didnt intend to do any harm at all. Instead of calling the police, you chose to pardon the thief and let the matter go thats mercy. Then you gave him some food and a few dollars to get him through this trying time thats grace.
In a world where mistakes are swiftly punished, and goodwill is only for the worthy, grace and mercy are an absolute necessity.
What Is Grace: Christian Quotes About Grace
Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.
Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.
is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.
Grace is unconditional love toward a person who does not deserve it.
“Grace is God’s best idea. His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly – what rivals it? Of all his wondrous works, grace, in my estimation, is the magnum opus.”
“The five means of grace are prayer, searching the Scriptures, the Lord’s Supper, fasting, and Christian .”
Grace is most needed and best understood in the midst of sin, suffering, and brokenness. We live in a world of earning, deserving, and merit, and these result in judgment. That is why everyone wants and needs grace. Judgment kills. Only grace makes us alive.
A shorthand for what grace is – mercy, not merit. Grace is the opposite of karma, which is all about getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you dont deserve, and not;getting what you do deserve. Christianity teaches that what we deserve is death with no hope of resurrection.
While everyone desperately needs it, grace is not about us. Grace is fundamentally a word about God: his un-coerced initiative and pervasive, extravagant demonstrations of care and favor. Michael Horton writes, In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself. Grace, then, is not a third thing or substance mediating between God and sinners, but is Jesus Christ in redeeming action.
Recommended Reading: What God Wants From Us Bible Verses
Calvin And Reformed Theology
Calvin and Luther believed free will does not co-operate with God’s grace which, according to them, cannot be rejected . The Lutheran Augsburg Confession says of baptism, “Lutherans teach that it is necessary to salvation and that by baptism the grace of God is offered and that children are to be baptized, who by baptism, being offered to God, are received into God’s favor.” The French reformer John Calvin expanded and further developed these themes in his systematic Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536.
The notion that God has foreordained who will be saved is generally called predestination. The concept of predestination peculiar to Calvinism, “double-predestination“, is the most controversial expression of the doctrine. According to Reformed theology, the “good news” of the gospel of Christ is that God has freely granted the gift of salvation to those the Holy Spirit causes to believe; what he freely grants to some , he withholds from others .
The relatively radical positions of Reformed theology provoked a strong reaction from both Roman Catholics and Lutherans.
Grace Given On A Large Scale
God extended grace on a large scale to Israel when that nation left Egypt. Notice Jeremiah 31:2Jeremiah 31:2Thus said the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.American King James Version×: Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wildernessIsrael, when I went to give him rest.
So Gods delivering Israel from generations of slavery in Egypt and leading them into the Promised Land was an act of great graceof God favoring them, delivering them, lovingly caring for;them and blessing them.
This was exactly in keeping with Gods nature and character as He described Himself to Moses when the Lord appeared to Moses in the incident at the burning bush: The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin . . . . Here we see the Old Testament God revealing Himself to be full of mercy and grace!
In the same way that God extended grace on a large scale in the past, He says He will extend grace to many people at a future time. Notice this prophecy of what He plans to do: I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced . Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a;firstborn .
You May Like: What Does The Bible Say About The Antichrist
It’s Important To Also Remember That The Meaning Of Spiritual Grace Does Not Mean It Will Always Be Mutual
There are people who have received grace from others but have no mercy on others.
In order to forgive those who lack a sense of grace, you must first understand that not everyone thinks and feels the same way as you do. Grace is a choice that not everyone decides to practice.
With that being said, this doesnt mean that having grace doesnt matter. The point of practicing grace is not to force others to have grace as well.
Its a decision that someone makes based off of their own morals and standards for themselves.
When someone shows us a lack of grace, it has nothing to do with what we did. No matter what you do, you will never be able to control anything or anybody outside yourself.
The best thing to do is to remain true to your pact to be a graceful person to everyone .
Its also important to know how to forgive people who lack grace. Everyone is human and we can hold them accountable for their actions but also forgive them for what they did.
Forgiveness is often misconstrued as validating a persons terrible behavior when in actuality it does the opposite.
Complete Surrender To Him
A condition for receiving and experiencing His grace fully is our complete surrender to Him. Your thoughts, actions and feelings will have to make way for His Spirit. By doing so, you exchange your old life for Gods way of life. When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, His grace will manifest itself in various ways as an invigorating shower in our lives! As the apostle Paul puts it: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come .
In this way, the Spirit teaches us to leave behind sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control .
Read Also: How Many Times Bible Says Fear Not
Lesson : How Grace Works
Our subject for today, the grace of God and how it works in our lives, is arguably the most important concept for you to understand and live by in the battle to be godly. Because it is so important, the enemy of our souls has created much confusion and controversy on this topic. But if you can fight your way clear in understanding and applying Gods grace, you will experience a close relationship with God and consistent victory over sin .
Gods grace permeated Pauls thinking. One scholar writes, Paul could not think of Christian truth and conduct apart from Gods grace . Another writes, The expression, the grace of God, may fairly be said to be the key word of Pauls theology. He cannot think of Christian salvation apart from the grace of God .
The classic definition is the best: Gods grace is His unmerited favor. Grace means that God showered favor and blessing on those who did not in any way deserve or earn it. They deserved His judgment and wrath. But He showed them favor.
Our text corrects both of these serious misconceptions of Gods grace. Paul shows that
Gods grace first saves and then trains His peoplefor godliness and good deeds.
What Does It Mean To Be Saved By Grace
Amazing gracehow sweet the soundThat saved a wretch like me!I once was lost but now am found,Was blind but now I see.John NewtongracesacramentsifundeservedunworthystoryimputedFaithnotsalvation by faithCould my tears forever flow,Could my zeal no languor know,These for sin could not atoneThou must save, and Thou alone:In my hand no price I bring,Simply to Thy cross I cling.
Read Also: What Is The Best Bible Verse
Frustrating The Grace Of God
Hebrews 12:15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled
It is possible for us to frustrate the grace of God. One way to do that is to try to achieve justification by good works or law keeping. Another way is to allow things by bitterness and unforgiveness into our hearts .
How Can I Live My Best Life
Ask God to forgive you of your sins and invite Jesus Christ to come into your life as your Lord and Savior. The God of Grace is omnipresent, that is, He is all things and in all things. He is closer than a brother. When He comes into our lives as our Lord and Savior, He promises never to leave us. From then on through all eternity, this powerful God is my Savior and Friend. He will love me and give me hope and the gift of His Presence..
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous?! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Examples Of Grace In The Bible
John 1:16-17For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:23-24… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus …
Romans 6:14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Ephesians 2:8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God …
Because Of Gods Grace We Can Go To The Lord With Confidence
We were once a people separated from God and through Christ we have been reconciled to the Father. From the foundation of the world God wanted to have an intimate relationship with us. That is unimaginable that the God of the universe would wait in anticipation for us. Imagine yourself as the poorest man in the world.
Now imagine that the richest man in the world went out of his way every day for the rest of your life to spend time with you, get to know you intimately, provide for you, comfort you, etc. You would think to yourself, why does he want to be with me? God is not saying, Its him again. No! God wants you to come and expect forgiveness. God wants you to come and expect Him to answer your prayers. God wants you!
Gods heart jumps as your heart turns in His direction. Grace allows us to communicate with the living God and not only that but it allows us to wrestle with the living God in prayer. Grace allows our prayers to be answered even when we feel like we least deserve it. Allow nothing to stop you from drawing on the grace of God daily.
17. Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
18. Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Don’t Miss: What The Bible Says About Divorce And Remarriage
Gods Grace Trains Us Who Are Saved To Be Zealous For Good Deeds
Good deeds refer to deeds that are done out of sincere love for God and others in obedience to His Word. Zealous is a word that Paul used to describe his fanatical zeal for Judaism prior to his conversion . It was also used to describe the fanatical Jewish sect that was devoted to ridding Israel of Roman domination. The Zealots were totally devoted to their cause, even to the point of risking their own lives to achieve their goals. You would not call them lukewarm!
Could you rightly describe yourself as a fanatic for good deeds? It seems to me that the vast majority of Christians dabble at good deeds when it is convenient, when they dont have anything else that theyd rather do. But if we have been bought out of the slave market of sin by the blood of our great God and Savior, we should be fanatics for good deeds. We ought to be totally devoted to serving our new Master.
How Does The Grace Of God Work
Beloved, grace is the freely given and undeserving support that God gives us so that we might respond to His call to share a relationship with Him and receive salvation. Gods grace does not take away from, or restrict us. Instead, it helps us overcome sin, which is the true hindrance to our freedom.
Recommended Reading: How To Teach The Bible To Preschoolers
Grace Calls To Ministry
Ephesians 3:7Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Gods Grace does not just call us to salvation, but our call to ministry is also by the grace of God. His gifts are distributed according to his grace. We are saved solely on the basis of Christs atonement on the cross and through no merit of our own. Similarly, we are not called to ministry on the basis of how good we are, how faithful we are or how deserving we are. Even that is through Gods grace.
Just to clarify, if God did not call you to be a pastor, no amount of faithfulness will change that. However, if God did call you to be a pastor, then lack of faithfulness can limit how freely that gift and calling operates in your life.
Gods Grace Is Sufficient
Gods grace is always sufficient. Consider for example the life of Paul. God had allowed a certain torment to ensure that he did not become proud. It was not taken away, but the Lord said to him, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness . Paul was even pleased in these difficult circumstances because they revealed Gods strength through his own weakness. When we are weak and rely on the Lord, His grace will overflow in us.