As with “Truth” and “Faith,” when I sat down to study I removed all preconception of what Grace meant, as much as one can, and searched for the Truth. I looked for every use in Scripture from beginning to end. I looked up both the Greek and Hebrew uses, and looked for the context in which they were applied. Through this I believe I developed a clear, accurate and concise understanding of what “Grace Is.”
First, because today we tend to equate Grace with Mercy, I felt it necessary to take a second to clarify and separate them. In times past, including Biblical, Mercy was accurately defined and understood as Compassion. Today, however, Mercy is seen as a movement away from a pre-stated position based on compassion. This is a subtle but important difference. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not move away from Truth, soften His position or change judgement; the suggestion that He would is counter to Scripture and the consistency of His character. Christ is our salvation because God promised it before we were even created, not because He later decided to let us off the hook. As we showed in Truth Is and Faith Is, it is we who must move. Hebrews 6 says: “repentance from acts that lead to death“ is the “foundation” of our salvation. Then Galatians 3 says: “the Law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be made righteous by Faith.” The Law was given to teach us the rules that we are to live by and that living by these rules would guide us to Christ. 2 Corinthians 4 says: “we disown and refuse our hidden inward nature and shameful ways.” If you’ve read Truth Is and Faith Is, then it should be clear to you that God is Truth and that we are to turn our backs on lies/sin and move to that Truth. God does not leave Truth and move to us!
OK, on to “Grace Is.” When I was done studying Scriptural references, I decided it prudent to look up the English definition as well. With the secular world’s efforts to redefine everything to fit its narrative, it has become habit to refer to the Webster’s 1828 version. What I found was a very clear, Biblically referenced set of definitions; definitions that matched my conclusions. So, I will begin where my study finished.
Defined by Webster’s 1828, Grace: “the free unmerited love and favor of God…” the Old Testament refers to this Grace as “God’s Favor.” In fact, most translations other than KJV have replaced the word Grace with Favor. In the Old Testament, however, there are two Hebrew words used for Grace:
H2580 chên khane: From H2603; graciousness, that is, subjectively (kindness, favor) or objectively (beauty): – favour, grace (-ious), pleasant, precious, [well-] favoured.
H8467 techinnâh – tekh-in-naw’: Also from H2603; graciousness; causatively entreaty: – favour, grace, supplication.
Except for in the book of Ezra, the first word is always used. Chên [H2580] refers to being seen with Favor in God’s eyes. For example, Genesis 6:8: “But Noah found grace [H2580] in the eyes of the LORD.” The other word, techinnâh [H8467] is only used in Ezra 6:8: “But now for a brief moment grace [H8467] has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery.” So, why the difference this one time? This verse refers to an act of Favor by God. Verse 9 then says: “…He has granted us new life.” God’s gift, the act of Grace, was empowerment, or, as the NASB puts it, a “reviving.” This slight but important difference really sets the stage for the New Testament use of Grace and how an act of God’s Grace gave man access to the power of God.
The New Testament uses the word Charis when referring to Grace. Here is the definition of this Greek word for Grace: G5485 charis – khar’-ece: From G5463; graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
Notice, as in Ezra, this definition speaks to “acts,” “gifts” and “influence.” Webster’s goes on to define Grace as: “Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit” and “The application of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner.” What does this New Testament Grace look like? Acts 15:11: “We believe it is through the Grace [G5485 charis] of our Lord Jesus that we are saved…” Using the definitions we have just described; “…it is through the Gift of our Lord Jesus that we are saved.” Also, Romans 1:5: “Through Him and on behalf of His name, we received grace and apostleship to call all those among the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.” or, “Through Him and on behalf of His name, we received God’s influence and apostleship…” And, Romans 3:23-24: “23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified (made righteous) freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Using what we have learned, “…are made righteous freely by God’s Gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” These are but a few examples of how New Testament Grace is the act of God’s Favor and is exemplified in the fulfillment of the promise of the Gift of Christ.
As Ezra tied Old Testament Grace (seen with Favor) to New (act of Favor), so too Romans ties New Testament Grace to Old. While the Old Testament refers to an “act” of favor only once, the New Testament regularly uses both “(seen) in God’s Favor” and “from (act of) God’s Favor.” Romans 5:1-2: “1 Therefore, since we have been made righteous through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have access by faith into this Grace in which we stand; and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Here Paul says, “this Grace in which we stand,” referring to standing in favor in the eyes of God, and “the Hope of the glory of God,” referring to salvation in Christ as the “act” or “Gift” from God’s Favor. Not sure I got that right? Romans 5:12-17: “12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, so also death was passed on to all men, because all sinned. 13 For sin was in the world before the Law was given; but sin is not taken into account when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin in the way that Adam transgressed. He is a pattern of the One to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought restoration. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive an abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” In other words, “God’s Favor and the Gift of the one man, Jesus Christ, that came from that Favor.” The “one man” Adam chose to reject Truth and so ushered in sin; because of the Gift of Christ, we are not bound by that decision. We can choose Truth for ourselves, and, in so doing, “reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”
It is easy to make the case that all gifts from God constitute acts of God’s Favor. For example, Paul says in Ephesians 3:7-8: “7 I became a servant (teacher) of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Though I am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” stating his role as a teacher was an act of Grace (Gift) of God, out of or from His favor. However, I want to focus on the most important act or gift of God’s favor: Salvation through the Gift of Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5&8: “4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich (abundant) in mercy (compassion), 5 made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! 8 For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Here Paul is clear that, because of God’s compassion for us, He “saved” us from the death that comes from our trespasses, making us “Alive” through the gift of Christ, which if you’ll remember He planned before creation. He also states that it is by an act of God’s Favor that “you have been saved.” Finally, verse 8 sums it all up nicely and connects Grace inseverably to “Faith Is” at the same time. “For it is by grace,” or “it is by Favor in the eyes of God;” “through Faith,” because of your Faith or, as we defined in Faith Is, by “living ‘free from doubt,’ with ‘full confidence’ and ‘utmost certainty’ in God’s Truth;” “this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God.” No need to translate here; “it is the Gift of God.”
Back to Romans 5:2: “access by faith into this Grace in which we stand.” These ten words have it all:
- Grace: gifts from standing (walking) in God’s favor.
- Faith: to patiently endure, living life in God’s Truth, confident that we will receive what He has promised.
- Access: (Webster’s 1828) means of approach; liberty to approach; implying previous obstacles.
By living life in God’s Truth, we find favor in His eyes; from this position of standing or walking in His favor, we are granted access to the gifts or acts that come from that favor. Understanding this is crucial to the final pieces of our study into what Grace Is.
Although not translated improperly, it is really important that we feel the true, personal meaning of these Greek words:
G2673 katargeō – kat-arg-eh’-o: From G2596 and G691; to be (render) entirely idle (useless), literally or figuratively: – abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void, separate.
G1601 ekpipto – ek-pip’-to: From G1537 and G4098; to drop away; specifically be driven out of one’s course; figuratively to lose, become inefficient: – be cast, fail, fall (away, off), take none effect.
With these definitions in mind, we continue. Ephesians 2:8 says: “not from yourselves,” but what does this mean? When non-Christian Jews were trying to persuade Christians to return to the Law, Paul’s response to the Galatians was this, Galatians 2:21: “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Or, “I do not set aside the Gift of God, for if we could be made righteous through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” Galatians 5:4: “You who are trying to be justified (made righteous) by the Law have been severed [G2673] from Christ; you have fallen [G1601] away from grace.” Or, “you who are trying to be made righteous by works or any means other than Christ have fallen out of Favor in the eyes of God.” Applying the true, personal meaning from our definitions, “you have severed and abolished your connection to Christ; you have gone off course, failed in the eyes of God and lost access to the gifts that come from that Favor.” And to the Romans, Paul further clarifies in Romans 6:14 saying simply: “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace,” or “under the Gift of Christ.”
“Not from yourselves…” Paul wanted us to be clear on this point. Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” As an “act of Grace,” a Gift received only by standing in God’s Favor, righteousness or salvation cannot be achieved through works, “from yourselves,” otherwise “Christ would have died for nothing.” As we talked about in Faith Is, we find “Favor in the eyes of God” through Faith, which we defined as acts of belief in God’s Truth. God’s gifts cannot be taken by works nor can they be coerced by mere words of belief. The position of being in God’s Favor is gained by acting in belief of God’s Truth, and, from that place of Favor, God’s Gifts are given or accessed. As 2 Corinthians 6:2 puts it: “For He says: ‘In the time of favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation!”
The third crucial point was “Access” to God’s Grace (gifts from God), but what are these gifts of God’s favor? Romans 16:20 says: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” What does it say? God will crush Satan under your feet! The power of the Gift of Jesus be with you! When in God’s Favor, Satan has already been defeated; he has no power. You have been given access to God’s Power through the Gift of God’s Favor, Jesus Christ. This is what we referred to in Faith is, Hebrews 13:6: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Paul spells it all out in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10: “1 As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For He says: ‘In the time of favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation! 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no one can discredit our ministry. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and calamities; 5 in beatings, imprisonments, and riots; in labor, sleepless nights, and hunger; 6 in purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, slander and praise; viewed as imposters, yet genuine; 9 as unknown, yet well-known; dying, and yet we live on; punished, yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” A little more clarity? In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God said to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” When Paul heard this he said: “I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me.” Sufficient as in barely enough? No! Webster’s 1828 defines sufficient as: “equal to the end proposed; adequate to wants.” In other words, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” No matter what the need, equal to that need. The need can never be greater than the power that comes from the gift of God’s favor. This is why Paul’s response was to celebrate his weakness. No matter how weak he was in himself, through access to the power of Christ nothing he had or faced was more powerful. He realized what Solomon had written centuries before: “everything is meaningless” except God. Notice that Paul cites good and bad “…glory and dishonor, slander and praise…” God is all that matters and is all powerful; by His Grace we are given access to that power. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” If you are in God’s favor, what could make you afraid? The only thing we have to fear is not being “in God’s favor,” so, I have a question for you: Who really had the Power, the thug or “The Man From Chad”?
Going back to 2 Corinthians 6:1: “As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” Paul tells us not to receive God’s Grace (Gift) in vain (Webster’s 1828 – Vain: False; deceitful; not genuine; spurious), because you found Favor in His eyes and He heard you and gave you the Gift of Salvation. He goes on in verse 2 to tell us to act from that Gift of Salvation, as “now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation!” and says in verse 4 that “as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way” (Webster’s 1828 – Commend: To commit, to produce or present to favorable notice). This is how we have no fear of being out of God’s Favor; we commit to act in Truth “in every way.”
What should be the natural result of all this “Grace” then, Old and New Testament? Included in the definition of Grace yet rarely used is Joy. This reminded me of a children’s song sung across doctrines for generations: “The Joy of The Lord is My Strength.”
(sung by PraiseInMotion.net)
I find the lyrics and the tone in line with our discussion, and, because the Joy (Grace) of the Lord Is my strength, here is the meaning I get from it, 2 Corinthians 9:7-8: “7 Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all Grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (Webster’s 1828 – Abound: To be in great plenty, Abundant) Or, “God is able to make all His gifts of Favor abundant to you, so that in all times, no matter what happens, you will have all that you need to be abundant in every good work.” To me, this is the Joy of Grace. Nothing brings more Joy than being in God’s Favor. And we should get great Joy from knowing that “in all things, at all times,” no matter what life brings, if we are in God’s Favor, He will make “all that we need” to get through it available and abundant.
God planned on me before He created everything: Joy! I am not bound by Adam’s choice: Joy! God planned on sending Christ to save me before He created everything: Joy! God gave me the law to guide me to the coming of Christ: Joy! Through the Power of Christ “rested” on me, God crushed Satan under my feet before He created everything: Joy! God offers me access to His power whether I live in a castle or on the street; all I have to do is accept it: Joy! “No man can harm me:” Joy! Meaning: Cancer can destroy my body, but it has no power over my spirit: Joy! The bank can take my home, but cannot touch the “place God has prepared for me:” Joy! My boss can take away my job, but not the Favor of God: Joy! The wealth of the richest person on earth cannot buy God’s Favor, so they can possess no more of what is truly important than me: Joy!
Well that’s it. “Grace Is” Favor in the eyes of God, and “Grace Is” Acts of God (Gifts) freely given from that Favor. Grace is NOT God moving, softening judgement or tolerating sin out of His love for us. Rather, because of God’s Mercy (compassion) for us, He planned the Gift of Christ before Creation began. It is for us to move our position away from sin, turning our backs on it to choose Truth and accept that Gift. Further, upon accepting the Grace of Christ, we must stand and act in Faith of God’s Truth to maintain Favor in His eyes. Through this Favor, we are given access to the Power that “No Man Can Harm!” and, through that, “the Joy of the Lord.”
© 8/02/2017 Scott A Caughel