Grace has been defined as:
- a : unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. b : a virtue coming from God. c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance.
- a :approval, favour, stayed in his good graces b archaic : mercy, pardon. c : a special favour : privlege, each in his place, by right, not grace d : disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency. e : a temporary exemption : reprieve.
- a prayer given at meals.
In today’s religious parlance many churches have promoted the acronym of GRACE as ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’. Let’s explore each of these aspects of Grace.
1. Of God. An attribute of God which gives unmerited assistance to humans to be regenerated and sanctified.
The quintessential nature of God is love (1 John 4:8). Therefore, any other attributes of God, such as justice or sovereignty, must come from love. We define God’s love (agape) as “the giving of whatever is required for the betterment of His people, regardless of how much it cost Him.” It is clear that humanity requires air, water, sunshine and food in order to exist, and thus God provides these. In Calvinistic terms this provision from God is called ‘Common Grace’ for it is given to all in common. Note that we have taken the ‘Love of God’ and now call it ‘Grace’, for we can now define ‘Grace’ as the “outworking manifestation of love”, or as St James explains in James 2:14-26 (although he is speaking of ‘faith’ it holds equally valid), love without action (grace) is nothing.
But besides our physical needs, for what else did we require God’s unmerited assistance?
2. For Humanity. Being in receipt of the outworking of God’s love.
We must recall that due to Adam’s acceptance of satan’s lie, humanity became ruled by their physicality, forgetting their true identity as image-bearers of God. So it behooved God to restore humanity’s recognition of their true nature. John 3:16 describes concisely the Grace manifested to restore us. And though humanity had agreed with satan and falsely called God a liar, He has pardoned us and placed the guilt on satan where it originates. He saved us from the captivity of our corrupted mindset, raising us up from the confines of the physical world to sit in heavenly places, enthroned over His Kingdom. Many doctrines often concentrate on the ‘pardon from wrath’ aspects of this ‘grace’, equating it with ‘mercy’. But the “outpouring of God’s love” covers ALL of our needs, or as Ephesians 1:3 states, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ”. This ‘Grace’ includes salvation, healing, wisdom, power, authority and prosperity, but most importantly, love and acceptance. As the definition above states, and the New Testament writers agree, humanity benefits from this, not by our efforts, but as a gift. And though all of humanity has been given this, it is those who awaken to it and make use of it that can gain more benefit now (1 Timothy 4:10) – though the sunshine is available to all, you will not get a suntan if you stay in the dark! There is no ‘Special’ Grace reserved only for some, only Grace for all – for God does not play favourites (Romans 2:11).
3. From Humanity. Being conduits for the outworking of love.
Having been restored to an awareness of our true identity as image-bearers of God, it should not be surprising that we should also be gracious, pouring out love to others, desiring to meet their needs, wanting to share the good news that they are the beloved offspring of God. Being awakened to God’s grace, we have become ambassadors for God and are to equally show HIS love for all, whether they have accepted or not. There is not to be an us and them mentality. In Romans 12:18 there is a clear challenge, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men”. This is the practical challenge for those who have an awareness of God’s Grace, to do likewise. God’s Grace is for all and through all. And let us not take God’s gift for granted, as it behooves us to be grateful for the many blessings we enjoy, even our daily meals.