What is Grace?
One thing I did last year in an attempt to help me understand grace better was to read five books on grace. I’ll review them briefly further down. Another thing I did was pray about it. I regularly ask God questions.
I also love to look up words in the dictionary and the Webster’s 1828 version is my favorite. The original Noah Webster was a devout Christian and put Bible verses right into the definitions of most words!
Here are some of his definitions of grace:
- 1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace
- 2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.
- 3. Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin.
- 4. The application of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner.
- 5. A state of reconciliation to God.
Other things to look at to help us understand grace better will be Bible verses and Christian quotes. Let’s start with the Bible.
Bible verses on grace
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.
In this verse grace is something that is supposed to come from us to others.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
In this verse grace is something that comes from God to us.
Hbr 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.
Again this verse shows that grace is something that God possesses and that it is something that we need.
Jam 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
God is giving out the grace to us again. Apparently we are in great need of it which is exactly the reason why I thought it was worthy of study.
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
God’s grace is working upon us to justify us [to absolve or acquit from guilt and merited punishment, and to accept as righteous on account of the merits of the Savior, or by the application of Christ’s atonement to the offender].
Let’s explore what other Christians have discovered about God’s grace. Useful as food for thought at least!
Quotes on grace
Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind. Matthew Henry
Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. John Piper
Grace means undeserved kindness. It is the gift of God to man the moment he sees he is unworthy of God’s favor. D.L. Moody
Grace is the very opposite of merit… Grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor, shown to the one who has deserved the very opposite. Harry Ironside
We have suffered from the preaching of cheap grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. People will take anything that is free, but they are not interested in discipleship. They will take Christ as Savior but not as Lord. Vance Havner
One thing is for sure, there is not one simple meaning for grace. It seems to hold various meanings. It is both deep and broad.
More food for thought
When I hear Christians say, “I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, and I am following a set of rules,” I immediately recognize that they know very little about the grace of God. They are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength. But Paul says, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” J. Vernon McGee
There is a center to the Bible and its message of grace. It is found in Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. Grace must therefore be preached in a way that is centered and focused on Jesus Christ Himself, never offering the benefits of the gospel without the Benefactor Himself. Sinclair B. Ferguson
The ultimate test of our spirituality is the measure of our amazement at the grace of God. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
I think this concept of grace may be inexhaustible…just like God Himself.
Books on grace and more quotes by authors
Grace by Max Lucado —Of course this book was written in the author’s usual easy-to-read-and-understand conversational and sometimes humorous writing style. With a topic as important and as serious as grace can be, you might wonder if this worked well together. I can assure you, it worked very well together…click on the title link to be taken to my entire book review post.
Notable quotes from Max Lucado’s book:
- “God answers the mess of life with one word: grace.” (p.7)
- “We won’t appreciate what grace does until we understand who we are. We are rebels.” (p.35)
- “We contribute nothing. Zilch.” [referring to Eph. 2:8] (p. 47)
Grace by R. T. Kendall —I usually love R. T. Kendall’s books but this is definitely not my favorite book by him. His theme seemed to be how to use God’s grace to live “higher” [my word] as a Christian from the New Testament and he had examples of sins that we “miss” or are blind to from the ten commandments (one chapter per commandment). For example, where Jesus said if we hated someone it was equivalent to murdering them. I found it convicting but not condemning.
The other thing is that he didn’t talk directly about grace, did not define it, did not or rarely (in case I missed it) used the word “grace”. I still consider R. T. Kendall to be one of my trustworthy authors and the book was still useful, just not particularly helpful in studying the specific topic of grace, despite the name of the book. (click on the title link to be taken to the book on Amazon)
Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges—This was my favorite book on the topic of grace that I’ve found so far. It is loaded with great information and feels full of grace also, which actually surprised me, as I expected it to be and feel legalistic. Instead he clearly delineates between spirit and flesh (or works). I will have to restrain myself in sharing quotes from this wonderful book. If you can only afford one book on grace, this is the one I recommend. (click on the title link to be taken to the book on Amazon)
Notable quotes from Jerry Bridge’s book:
- “Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment.” (p. 21)
- “If you sometimes feel you deserve an answer to prayer or a particular blessing from God because of your hard work or sacrifice, you are living by works, not by grace. But it is just as true that if you sometimes despair of experiencing God’s blessing because of your demerits—the ‘oughts’ you should have done but didn’t , or ‘don’ts’ you shouldn’t have done but did—you are also casting aside the grace of God.” (p. 33)
- “To the extent you are clinging to any vestiges of self-righteousness or are putting any confidence in your own spiritual attainments, to that degree you are not living by the grace of God in your life.” (p. 33)
- “Nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. He loves you strictly by His grace given to you through Jesus.” (p. 73)
- “Legalism is, first of all, anything we do or don’t do in order to earn favor with God. Second, legalism insists on conformity to manmade religious rules and requirements…it requires conformity to the ‘do’s and don’ts’ or our particular Christian circle.” (p.120)
Grace: The Power To Change by James Richards—I found James Richard’s book to be similar in “flavor” to Joseph Prince’s teachings. He has lots of focus on what we believe in our hearts and includes actual “how-to” information that is usually lacking in books of this type. I found this book very useful in my study on grace and is my second favorite book on that topic. (click on the title link to be taken to the book on Amazon)
Notable quotes from James Richard’s book:
- “Grace is God’s ability working in man, making him able to do what he cannot do in his own ability.” (p. 22)
- “We are always depending either on our abilities or Gods’ abilities. There is no in-between. If you are trusting your ability, then you have neutralized God’s ability…Falling from grace is when you leave the realm of God’s ability. It is when you attempt to obtain righteousness by your performance.” (p. 44)
- “If what you have works only when you try “really hard”, it is not grace. If you succeed only when you have the ability, it is not grace. If you have protection just on the day you pray, then it is not grace. If your emotions change based on your performance, it is not grace. (p. 88)
What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey —Philip Yancey took the approach that it would be easier to to “show” grace that to try to explain it. “I would far rather convey grace than explain it.” (p.16) He did this by using stories, lots of stories. They were wonderful, too. If you learn best by stories, then you will love this book. (click on the book title to be taken to the book on Amazon)
Notable quotes from Philip Yancey’s book:
- “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more…And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less…Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possible love.” (p.70)
- “Repentance, not proper behavior or even holiness, is the doorway of grace. And the opposite of sin is grace, not virtue.” (p. 206)
And finally, some songs on grace to uplift you:
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(c) 2014 Cheryl Cope
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