If you have been in church at least one more time than never, you have probably heard of grace. Somewhere along the line, you have surely heard or even said such things as “Oh, but for the grace of God, there go I” or “I sure thank God for His saving grace.” If a friend tells you that they think their actions are good enough to be saved, you may respond by letting them know that the Bible says we can only be saved by God’s grace and not by our works. Of course, “Amazing Grace” is perhaps the most well-known Christian song in human history. There is certainly no shortage of GRACE in our vocabulary.
I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father’s grace; however, I am concerned with what the word has come to mean in Christian circles down through the years. Take the statement, “Oh, but for the grace of God, there go I”, for example. We’ve read that saying to sound as if God has had pity on us. Almost like you were headed for a catastrophe, but God felt so amazingly sorry for you that He just had to come in and make sure that everything would be all right. Now, that is certainly a picture of one of our Heavenly Father’s attributes, but it isn’t a picture of His grace. It is an illustration of His mercy. We see in Titus 1:4 and 2 John 1:3 that His grace and mercy are not the same thing. They are clearly different.
So, from where does the disconnect come in our perception of Grace? Like most other Scriptural misconceptions, it is rooted in a lack of understanding of the finished work of Jesus. Since most people have not been taught all that Jesus accomplished in His victory at Calvary, they cannot truly comprehend what all belongs to them as a result of that victory. As a result, most believers today have a view of themselves as being totally worthless. Instead of believing that they can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens them (Philippians 4:13), they wait for God to save the day and miss the entire point of why Jesus came. He came to let us share in the victory that He won (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The confusion comes from not dividing the two covenants the correct way. Let’s do a quick word study. In the Old Testament, we see the word grace is used in 37 verses. In all but one of those verses, it is derived from the Hebrew word chen (khane). The other time is a variation of the same root word which is chanan (khaw-nan’). Here, grace means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to favor, grant, be merciful, show mercy, or have pity upon. In the New Testament, we see the word grace take on a whole new meaning. It is used in 122 verses and in all but one of those verses; it comes from the Greek word charis (khar’-ece). It means the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life. Another way to say it is GOD’s INFLUENCE on the heart of the believer and the REFLECTION of that influence in the life of the believer. Do you see that? This grace is not simply a depiction of God’s mercy, but a strong portrayal of His very ABILITY at work in us to help us do things that we could not do on our own!
That is what New Testament grace is all about. In John 1:14, we see that Jesus was full of this kind of grace. He wasn’t just full of mercy and compassion for those around Him that were sick and hurting. He was full of the very ability of God that empowered Him to do something about those sicknesses and hurts. That grace allowed Him to make a difference in their lives. Maybe you don’t know how you are going to move forward in your life. Up until now, maybe you thought that you were in desperate need for God to “show up” in your life. My friend, He wants to do more than “show up” for you. He wants you to know today that He cared so much about your life that He “SHOWED UP” in His son so that you could partake in His divine nature everyday (2 Peter 1:4). We see in Hebrews 4:16 that He wants you to come freely to His very throne to receive that ability in your time of need. Don’t allow religion to steal your identity. Receive God’s grace. Receive His very ability in your life and begin living in victory today.
Today’s Word Study: Ephesians 3:1-12