Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What is Grace - Christianity 101

Grace is a common theme in the New Testament. We see it as part of Jesus' ministry here on earth: "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) We also see it in the salutations of the apostles, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:3) And we see it as something to be pursued in our Christian life, "for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited." (Hebrews 13:9) While grace is not unfamiliar to most of us, it can still remain hard to define and explain. Someone once said, "Grace is not a blue-eyed blond" and while this is true it doesn't help us to understand what grace really is. So what is grace? Thayer defines "grace" as "good-will, loving-kindness, and favor." Grace, at its core, is favor. Consider the following people who found grace, or favor, with God and man.
"Yet God was with him, [Joseph] and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor [grace] and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household." (Acts 7:9-10) 
"The angel said to her [Mary], 'Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.'" (Luke 1:30)
"And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor [grace] with God and men." (Luke 2:52)
"[and the believers were] praising God and having favor [grace] with all the people." (Acts 2:47)
All these people, and many more, found favor with God and man. Webster defines "favor" as, "friendly regard shown toward another especially by a superior; approving consideration or attention; gracious kindness; an act of such kindness; effort in one's behalf or interest." As we understand the nature of favor, it can help us understand the nature of God's grace towards us. For example, when God told Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9) we understand that God was speaking of his friendly regard for Paul; that in all Paul was to go through, God would be at his side and on his side. God would always be there to encourage him, guide him, and provide him what he needed. Even when, at times, he would not deserve the kindness of God, God's kindness would still be there.

We need to begin to see God's grace as His favor in our lives. Grace is not mystical, it is not mysterious. Grace is not some spiritual empowerment of embellishment. Grace is not a thing it's a who. When the favor of God is on our lives, nothing is impossible for us, nothing is withheld from us, and the fullness of the Kingdom of God is ours. Over the next several posts we will look at grace and how it applies to different areas of our lives and, most importantly, how we can grow in grace.

David Robison

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