Yesterday, I published what I said is the most important article I ever can or will write. In it, I sought to answer the question, “What is the Gospel?”.
As we discuss the Gospel, one key word that is used is the word “grace”. Therefore, I believe it’s helpful (for those interested) to publish a similar study of the word “grace”, along with its implications.
What Scripture Says
In an English Bible, the word “grace” is found over 150 times. In the Old Testament, it is used to translate the Hebrew word chen (חֵן). In the New Testament, it is used to translate the Greek word charis (χάρις). In the Septuagint, charis (χάρις) is used to translate chen (חֵן) in the Old Testament. Below, I provide a list of every instance of the word for convenient reference. To skip down to the next part of this article, click here.
- Ge 6:8: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
- Ge 19:19: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I canno escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
- Ge 32:5: And I have oxen, and asses, flocks, and menservants, and womenservants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.
- Ge 33:8: And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
- Ge 33:10: And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me.
- Ge 33:15: And Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of the folk that are with me. And he said, What needeth it? let me find grace in the sight of my lord.
- Ge 34:11: And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give.
- Ge 39:4: And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.
- Ge 47:25: And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.
- Ge 47:29: And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:
- Ge 50:4: And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
- Ex 33:12: And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
- Ex 33:13: Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
Ex 33:16: For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.
Ex 33:17: And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.
Ex 34:9: And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
Nu 32:5: Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.
Jdg 6:17: And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.
- Ru 2:2: And Ruth the Moabitess said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter.
- Ru 2:10: Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger?
- 1 Sa 1:18: And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.
- 1 Sa 20:3: And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.
- 1 Sa 27:5: And David said unto Achish, If I have now found grace in thine eyes, let them give me a place in some town in the country, that I may dwell there: for why should thy servant dwell in the royal city with thee?
- 2 Sa 14:22: And Joab fell to the ground on his face, and bowed himself, and thanked the king: and Joab said, To day thy servant knoweth that I have found grace in thy sight, my lord, O king, in that the king hath fulfilled the request of his servant.
- 2 Sa 16:4: Then said the king to Ziba, Behold, thine are all that pertained unto Mephibosheth. And Ziba said, I humbly beseech thee that I may find grace in thy sight, my lord, O king.
- Ezr 9:8: And now for a little space grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
- Es 2:17: And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace (hen) and favour (hesed) in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.
- Ps 45:2: Thou art fairer than the children of men: Grace is poured into thy lips: Therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.
- Ps 84:11: For the Lord God is a sun and shield: The Lord will give grace and glory: No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
- Pr 1:9: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, And chains about thy neck.
- Pr 3:22: So shall they be life unto thy soul, And grace to thy neck.
- Pr 3:34: Surely he scorneth the scorners: But he giveth grace unto the lowly.
- Pr 4:9: She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: A crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
- Pr 22:11: He that loveth pureness of heart, For the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
- Je 31:2: Thus saith 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.
- Zec 4:7: Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: And he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
- Zec 12:10: And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, The spirit of grace and of supplications: And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, And they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, And shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
- Lk 2:40: And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
- Jn 1:14: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
- Jn 1:16: And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
- Jn 1:17: For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
- Ac 4:33: And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
- Ac 11:23: Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
- Ac 13:43: Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.
- Ac 14:3: Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
- Ac 14:26: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
- Ac 15:11: But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
- Ac 15:40: And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
- Ac 18:27: And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
- Ac 20:24: But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
- Ac 20:32: And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
- Ro 1:5: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:
- Ro 1:7: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Ro 3:24: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
- Ro 4:4: Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
- Ro 4:16: Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
- Ro 5:2: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
- Ro 5:15: But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
- Ro 5:17: For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
- Ro 5:20: Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
- Ro 5:21: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Ro 6:1: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
- Ro 6:14: For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
- Ro 6:15: What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
- Ro 11:5: Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
- Ro 11:6: And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
- Ro 12:3: For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
- Ro 12:6: Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
- Ro 15:15: Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God,
- Ro 16:20: And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
- Ro 16:24: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
- 1 Co 1:3: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Co 1:4: I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
- 1 Co 3:10: According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
- 1 Co 10:30: For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
- 1 Co 15:10: But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
- 1 Co 16:23: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
- 2 Co 1:2: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Co 1:12: For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
- 2 Co 4:15: For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
- 2 Co 6:1: We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
- 2 Co 8:1: Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
- 2 Co 8:6: Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
- 2 Co 8:7: Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
- 2 Co 8:9: For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
- 2 Co 8:19: And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
- 2 Co 9:8: And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
- 2 Co 9:14: And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.
- 2 Co 12:9: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
- 2 Co 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.
- Ga 1:3: Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
- Ga 1:6: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
- Ga 1:15: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
- Ga 2:9: And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
- Ga 2:21: I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
- Ga 5:4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
- Ga 6:18: Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
- Eph 1:2: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Eph 1:6: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
- Eph 1:7: In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
- Eph 2:5: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
- Eph 2:7: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
- Eph 2:8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Eph 3:2: If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
- Eph 3:7: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
- Eph 3:8: Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
- Eph 4:7: But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
- Eph 4:29: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
- Eph 6:24: Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
- Php 1:2: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Php 1:7: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
- Php 4:23: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
- Col 1:2: To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Col 1:6: Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
- Col 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
- Col 4:6: Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
- Col 4:18: The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
- 1 Th 1:1: Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Th 5:28: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
- 2 Th 1:2: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Th 1:12: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2 Th 2:16: Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
- 2 Th 3:18: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
- 1 Ti 1:2: Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
- 1 Ti 1:14: And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Ti 6:21: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
- 2 Ti 1:2: To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
- 2 Ti 1:9: Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
- 2 Ti 2:1: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
- 2 Ti 4:22: The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
- Tt 1:4: To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
- Tt 2:11: For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
- Tt 3:7: That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
- Tt 3:15: All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
- Phm 3: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Phm 25: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
- Heb 2:9: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
- Heb 4:16: Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
- Heb 10:29: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
- Heb 12:15: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
- Heb 12:28: Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
- Heb 13:9: Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
- Heb 13:25: Grace be with you all. Amen.
- Jas 1:11: For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.
- Jas 4:6: But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
- 1 Pe 1:2: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
- 1 Pe 1:10: Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
- 1 Pe 1:13: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
- 1 Pe 3:7: Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
- 1 Pe 4:10: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
- 1 Pe 5:5: Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
- 1 Pe 5:10: But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
- 1 Pe 5:12: By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.
- 2 Pe 1:2: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
- 2 Pe 3:18: But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
- 2 Jn 3: Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
- Jud 4: For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Re 1:4: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
- Re 22:21: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
What We Learn
What we learn in the verses above is that the word grace is used to express three different ideas.
First, and most simply, “grace” is used to mean favor or acceptance. For example, we read in Genesis:
“And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”
Second, the word “grace” is used to signify the disposition of one who shows favor, and is usually associated with a sense of generosity or kindness. This use seems to be limited to the New Testament. We read:
“We believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (Jews) shall be saved, even as they (Gentiles).”
Thirdly, the word “grace” is used to signify the benefits received through the kindness or favor of another. St. Paul wrote:
“Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Though the term grace is used in three different senses in Scripture, they are all one, expressing a full idea of favor shown by one with a favorable disposition, leading to favors received.
What is significant is that one gives grace and the other receives it. The one who gives grace may give it justly to one to whom it is owed, or generously to one to whom it is not owed. In the case of Christianity, God gives grace to men to whom it is not owed. We read in Romans 5:
“A man will hardly give his life for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
Here we see that God’s love for us is undeserved. He showed grace to us “while we were yet sinners”.
Salvation is offered to men not after they have worked to make themselves worthy of it, for salvation would then be a debt God owes to men, rather than an act of grace.
There are two effects of this grace.
First, man’s disposition toward God must be one of profound gratitude. Left to ourselves, we would all be miserable in this life, and condemned to eternal punishment. We can speak of salvation and live happily in this life only because God, moved by His own love, has offered us salvation freely by His grace. We read from St. Paul:
“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”
Second, because God’s grace is not merely a sign of kindness but a source of real benefits, we are obliged to make use of the benefits we receive and work with them for His praise and glory in the world. We see this in the writing of St. Peter:
“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
The conclusion is this:
We were separated from God and subject to a curse by the sin of Adam and Eve. This curse left us to our own power, cut off from the benefits of God’s grace given to us at creation. We were left subject to the power of lust, gluttony, anger, sloth, envy, pride and greed, which make our lives miserable and which make us worthy of condemnation. We were not worthy of God’s “grace”, in the first sense of the word, that is, not worthy to be accepted in his presence.
While God could have justly left us to our misery under the curse, which we all justly suffered, He did not wish to because He loved us and wished to free us from the curse and restore us to our original, happy state. Therefore, He sent His Son into the world, born in human flesh, to offer Himself as a sacrifice capable of atoning for the sin of Adam. While we were sinners and worthy of God’s wrath, God chose, instead, to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness. This kindness shown to us is referred to by the word “grace” in the second sense.
He did this by giving to us the help we need to control our natural impulses, which are unreasonable and sinful in themselves, by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and cause us to bear fruits of holy behavior. This help given to us is referred to by the word “grace” in the third sense.
Consequently, we enjoy God’s “grace” in all three senses and any message of salvation that does not include all three senses, or that uses the word “grace” in different senses, inconsistently (which is called “equivocation”), is not the true Gospel. We will find Catholics and Protestants guilty of doing this in their arguments with one another.
The Christian Life
If you are a Christian, living in the grace of God, you will know that, while God has already given us infinitely more grace than we deserve, and has actually delivered from the power of many sins, He has not yet freed s from the power of every sin. He has not brought us, as Christians, to the state of happiness and perfection which we will enjoy in heaven. In this life, He leaves us subject to some of the evil influences of our fallen nature, called “concupiscence”, for a number of reasons. First, he causes us to always remember the miserable life we suffered before we entered the grace of God. Second, he causes us to remain in His grace and not to be deceived by any self-confidence which would threaten our salvation. Third, by giving different “graces” to different men, making some strong in one way and some in another, he shows us that we are all dependent on one another and builds the family of believers, wherein we exercise love, which is the proof of our salvation. This family of believers is called the “body of Christ”, the “household of God”, the “Church” and is described by St. Paul as follows:
“God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you…but God hath tempered the body together…that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.”
Our duty, as we stand in God’s grace, having been saved by God’s grace, and given gifts of that grace, is to serve God with the gifts we have received by His own choosing, and to give thanks for everything He has done for us. The idea of going back to our sins should disgust us, because we know that God is present with us, watching us. Moreover, we are to beware of the corruption that remains in us and seek its removal by humble prayers, trusting that God will restore us to perfect holiness and give us eternal life, if we seek it diligently either in this life, or in the life to come. This diligence includes avoiding all occasions of sin. We have no excuse for being in places and situations that are of interest to those who wish to sin. Thirdly, knowing that we are saved only by the grace of God, we will treat others with the same kindness that we have received from God, forgiving their sins against us and seeking to help rather than judge them, knowing that they, like us, are all dependent on God’s grace. In fact, we are warned that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us.
St. John provides us with a good rule of life:
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
and again, more fully, he said:
“Hereby we do know that we know God, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, “I know him”, but keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Losing Our Salvation
This leads us to an important question: If we are saved by grace, is it possible for a Christian to lose his salvation? It appears that the danger here is not that one can lose his salvation, but that one can deceive himself to believe that he is saved while believing in a message of salvation, or way of salvation, that isn’t the way God has established. St. Paul warned as he saw this happen to the Christians living in Galatia:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
St. John warned us also of these dangers:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
So, as long as we live in this life, we are to watch and be careful because we can be deceived and either kept from finding the true way of salvation, or led away from it by false teachers. In this, we can certainly lose the salvation that could be ours.
However, having said that, it appears that Scripture teaches that when we believe the true Gospel, and receive the grace of God, we will not depart from it. After all, God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit when He, judging the purity of our hearts, testifies that we are sincere and our faith is true. The Holy Spirit begins to sanctify us, and we begin to bear the fruits of the Spirit as He sanctifies us and proves us to be living in the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. We are, as Jesus taught, like branches grafter into a living grapevine, through which the life of the vine begins to flow, producing fruit. Moreover, Jesus refers to himself as “the Good Shepherd” and Christians as his sheep, and He promises that He shall lose none of them that are His. We, therefore, have reason to be confident that, so long as the fruits of the Holy Spirit are found to be growing in us, we are, in fact, “in Christ” and safe in His grace.
In conclusion, we have learned that the word “grace” is used in three different senses in Sacred Scripture. First, it refers generally, to the favor with which one is received by another. Second, it refers to the generous dispositoin of the one by whom we are received–especially when rejection would be just. Thirdly, it refers to the benefits received from the one who receives us which, in the Christian life, are the spiritual gifts distributed to God’s children as He sees fit.
One of the most beautiful lessons I believe we can learn from this study is how this idea of grace became a form of greeting among the early Christians. We see in many of the verses quoted above, that the Christians began and ended letters to one another by wishing “grace” upon eachother. I’d like to close this article with one such wish, which happens to be the last verse of the entire Bible–
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (Revelation 22:21)
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy
Mr. William C. Michael is the founding headmaster of the Classical Liberal Arts Academy. He graduated from Rutgers University with an honors degree in Classics & Ancient History and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Michael has worked in private education as a Classics teacher and administrator for over 20 years. He is a Roman Catholic, married to his highschool sweetheart, a homeschooling father of ten children, and keeper of a quiet family farm in North Carolina. Mr. Michael enjoys studying ancient natural philosophy, gardening and running.