THE MEANING OF THE WORD “GRACE”.
GRACE DOES NOT MEAN UNMERITED FAVOUR
I have worked my way through several of the New Testament books in Greek. This article is a summary of over 157 occurrences in the New Testament of the Greek word for grace. I have looked at each occurrence in its context and I have found some surprising things along the way. One is the real meaning of grace. It does not mean the unmerited favor of God. Grace really refers to God’s holy influence upon souls, which turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.
WE CANNOT TAKE CREDIT FOR OUR OWN WORKS
Grace is a gift in the sense that it is not earned. We cannot take credit for even our own work because that work is the result of grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10b …but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Ephesians 2: 8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
WHEN WE SAY GRACE AT MEALS
When we return thanks to God at meals we “say grace”. That does not mean we are giving God our unmerited favor. It means God’s goodness to us by His provision moves us and influences us to be thankful. We express this affection in our blessing.
Jesus had to have grace: Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. That does not mean that He needed unmerited favor.
We experience new levels of grace as we grow in Christ: John 1:16 for of his fullness we all have received, and grace upon grace. We are not getting unmerited favor in new levels.
Barnabas and Paul needed the grace of God to empower them so they could accomplish the work committed to them: Acts 14:26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
We are saved by faith in Christ’s sacrifice alone and nothing else. After we have trusted Christ we can grow in grace. 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We grow in grace through cleansing our lives of sin, reading the Bible, and prayer. To the degree we do this we receive the powerful influence of God in our lives.
How many times have we read the Bible through? How much time do we spend daily down on our knees in prayer? Do we live cleaner lives today than we did yesterday?
You cannot accomplish God’s work in your own strength, you need the power He gives to accomplish that work.
No man can—-become a Christian—-understand the Bible—-live the Christian life—say and mean that Jesus is Lord—but by the Holy Ghost
Mike Clinton, Hiawassee, Ga. Dec. 31, 2013
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