Q: #377. What is grace?
By: Steve Shirley
A: "Grace" is one of the most important words in the Bible. It is used 170 times, with 132 of these being in the New Testament. However, within the verses that it is used 170 times, we find grace covering a WIDE variety of things. Because of this, it is hard to precisely define grace. The Greek word "charis" is used for grace in the New Testament (except for James 1:11). In Strong's, when you look up the word "charis," you will find that it is broken down into all kinds of categories and subcategories. For example, it can be used for "favor," "thanks," "pleasure," "beauty or gracefulness," "the power and equipment for ministry," and more.
In the Old Testament, when we see the word "grace" used, it is almost exclusively speaking about one person extending grace to another. The New Testament also uses grace in this way in a few places (i.e. Eph 4:29, Col 4:6, 1 Pet 4:10), but the primary way "grace" is used in the New Testament is in relation to God giving grace to humans. We do see a few prominent instances in the Old Testament where God is said to have "given grace" to humans (i.e. Noah: Gen 6:8, Moses: Ex 33:12,17, and the Israelites: Ex 33:16, Jer 31:1-2, Deut 9:5-6), but we do not really see God's grace explained, emphasized, and explored until the New Testament.
God grants His grace in a number of ways in the New Testament. However, the two primary ways He grants people grace are: #1. to accomplish different tasks (1 Cor 3:10: God's grace helped Paul lay a foundation)(2 Cor 1:12)(2 Cor 8:1-2,6-7)(2 Cor 9:8)(2 Cor 12:9)(Eph 3:7-8)(Heb 4:16)(1 Pet 4:10)(Acts 4:33)(Acts 14:26), #2. in relation to salvation. "Grace" for salvation is the primary use of "grace" in the New Testament, and this is what most Christians think about when they hear, and use the word "grace." This is what we will focus on for the rest of this study.
How do we define God's grace in relation to salvation? There is an acronym that some use which is: G.R.A.C.E. = God's Riches At Christ's Expense. This is not a bad definition, but it really doesn't fully define God's grace. Here is my short, but fuller definition: "Grace is God's free, unmerited, undeserved favor being bestowed upon sinners who are not worthy to receive it." A.W. Tozer gives this definition: "Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits on the undeserving."
We can only receive salvation because of the grace of God. We are ALL sinners (1 Jn 1:8,10)(Rom 3:10,23)(Eccl 7:20). Because of our sins, we are ALL condemned: (Rom 6:23) "For the wages of sin is death (Hell); but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Yes, we are condemned, but as (Rom 6:23) says, we can have "eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord!" It is a "gift." This "gift" is by the grace of God. It is available to ALL men (Titus 2:11). Because of grace, we can be forgiven of our sins! Let's look at five very important things the Bible says about God's grace.
First, when we receive God's grace, we are forgiven of our sins (Eph 1:7).
Second, this grace that leads to salvation comes from: God the Father (1 Pet 5:10)(Ps 84:11)(Rom 1:5)(Gal 1:15-16)(Titus 3:7), Jesus Christ (Acts 15:11)(Rom 5:15)(1 Cor 1:4)(Jn 1:16-17)(Eph 4:7), and the Holy Spirit (Heb 10:29)(Zech 12:10).
Third, we can ONLY receive the grace of God for salvation through Jesus' sacrifice for us (Rom 3:22-24)(Eph 1:7)(Rom 5:17)(Acts 15:11)(2 Tim 1:9)(Gal 2:21)(2 Cor 8:9)(Heb 2:9).
Fourth, we are saved ONLY by grace, and not by works (Eph 2:8-9)(Rom 4:4)(Rom 11:6)(Gal 2:21)(Gal 5:4)(2 Tim 1:9).
Fifth, grace is received by faith (Rom 5:1-2)(Eph 2:8-9)(Rom 4:16), belief (Acts 18:27), and humility (1 Pet 5:5)(James 4:6)(Prov 3:34).
The Bible describes God's grace as: "rich" (Eph 1:7)(Eph 2:7), "exceeding" (2 Cor 9:14), "manifold" (1 Pet 4:10), "all-sufficient" (2 Cor 12:9), "abundant" (1 Tim 1:14)(Rom 5:15,17,20)(Acts 4:33)(2 Cor 9:8), "glorious" (Eph 1:6), and "giving us everlasting consolation and good hope" (2 Th 2:16) .
Let us be ever grateful for God's grace. Have you ever accepted Jesus Christ's sacrifice for your sins, and received God's offer of grace? If not, you can go here and do so today.
Let me close these 11 words which constitute my favorite verse in the Bible:
(1 Cor 15:10) "But by the grace of God I am what I am..."