The definition of grace is well known to most believers. It is quite simple, as noted below. What is lacking, however, is not a definition of grace but rather a working knowledge of its meaning, which makes a tangible impact in the life of the one who knows it.
From Definition to Revelation
If the definition of grace or a greater understanding of its meaning does not change you from the inside out, then something is still missing. Complete transformation is the signature of grace’s presence.
Grace is not known by reading about it but by revelation from the Spirit. As a believer, the Spirit is more than willing to open your eyes to the truths of the kingdom if you will prayerfully seek His Word.
For this reason I too… do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know… (Eph. 1:15-18 NAS)
Seek the revelation of the meaning of grace in the definition. It may require that you read this article multiple times, search the Scriptures yourself, pray for spiritual enlightenment, and meditate on the Word repeatedly. God’s truths are usually not on the surface, so cast your net into the deep.
A Definition of Grace
The best definition of grace I have found so far is the one you probably already know. Grace is “unmerited favor.” This is simple but profound. However, this definition misses a couple very important words, which are the most important words for understanding what grace truly is. These words are “in Christ” or “in the Beloved.”
Ephesians 1:6 gives us one of the scriptures that presents an aspect of the definition of grace to us.
To the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:6 NAS)
Grace is unmerited favor in Christ. I will present six key concepts associated with this definition that you should take ahold of with your heart. Let it move from your “head to your heart”!
Definition of Grace – Highly Favored
Grace is the experience of God’s favor, which is the experience of God’s goodness and kindness. Divine favor is God reaching out to superfluously meet the needs and desires of man out of His kindness and goodness. We have been brought into a place where God withholds no good thing from us. This is the place of favor.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:11 )
Do not make the mistake of thinking this favor is merely a doctrine about grace you should know and memorize. It is not a doctrine but an experience of God’s goodness and kindness. Through His favor, God has showered goodness upon the believer in Christ. The kindness of God is seen in three levels:
There is nothing that quite heals the heart broken by sin and overwhelmed with its guilt, shame, and fear like acceptance does. There is no greater gift for our failures, weaknesses, and faults than God’s acceptance of us. It heals the heart and restores it to a path of recovery like nothing else can ever do. God loves sinners and wants to receive them home. The words “love” and “sinners” do not seem to go together. The sinner merits judgment, not love or compassion. John 3:16 says “for God so loved the world.” No matter what we have done, God’s arms are open to receive us. This is not for sinners only but also for His children in the house. You are accepted in the Beloved.
Acceptance leads directly to freedom and deliverance from sin, Satan, and death. Through His favor, God has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. Sometimes we have wished we could delete our past away like we delete a message on our phones. Unfortunately, it does not happen like this with sin, our past failures, mistakes, and blunders. There is, however, forgiveness for whatever we have done, because Christ has shed His blood for that same reason to pay the penalty for every sin ever committed. This is favor. God has delivered and freed us from the entanglements of sin, Satan, and death. God’s acceptance leads us to come to Him to be delivered and made free by His grace from every entanglement in our lives. Freedom is here at last. It is His favor at work in man.
Brought into Glory
God has not merely accepted us in His favor and freed us from sin and its allies. He has brought us into Himself so that we can enjoy the very life He has. In His favor, God has given to us eternal life, which is essentially sharing God’s experience of living! He has brought us into His very glory as His children. This is the epitome of grace. It is the destination of grace. The work of grace is yet incomplete in your life if this dimension is not yet working in you. Divine acceptance is blissful. Freedom from sin is splendid. But acceptance and freedom exist so that you can come into the glory of God!
Definition of Grace – Unmerited
Grace is unmerited favor in Christ. It is the favor that is unmerited, and man is the one who does not merit the favor of God. The acceptance, deliverance, and glory that God’s favor have brought to us are completely beyond our reach, but they are brought to us by grace anyway. You do not need to earn, merit, or work for them.
It is sometimes hard to understand this aspect of grace because we live in a system of principles that are essentially contrary to this concept. We are conditioned to work for what we need or want. This quality is not wrong in itself if exercised in the right context. However, the problem is when we attempt to bring this mentality into our relationship with God—we face a shipwreck. In fact, there are some who will not accept anything unless they have worked for it or deserve it. We must do all we can to stay away from this mentality when it comes to our relationship with God in grace. The bedrock of grace is receiving from God with all humility what we do not earn, work for, or deserve.
Are we to religiously accept and assume that we do not deserve God’s favor? Absolutely not! We are indeed unworthy of that favor in truth. But our unmerited state is twofold:
- We do not deserve goodness from God. One sin is enough to lead to divine judgment, wrath, and eternal condemnation. How many times did Adam sin? Once! Who has not sinned? Sometimes we think this applies to those who have not yet received Christ. Even as believers, though, we know that the frailty of the flesh still weighs upon us, and we commit acts of sin to different degrees. Adam ate the fruit only once, which was against God’s commandment. I wonder how many of God’s commandments we break, from ministers to believers, every day, including today? We do not deserve God’s favor. In His mercy, God gives us what is contrary to what our state warrants.
- We are unable to do what it takes to free ourselves from our bondage and bring the gift of life we need so dearly. If we do not deserve God’s favor but at the same time are able, of ourselves, to do what it takes to get what His favor will bring to us, then we do not need God. If man could free himself from sin, then he certainly would not need God to help him. Look around you and watch the news, and it will again be very apparent that sin is beyond the strength and control of man. Grace remains inactive until we get to the point of seeing that we need God, not by assumption but in truth. Our pride, including religious pride, is a ferocious enemy of Grace.
“Taken Captive” by Favor
We have found favor with God. We have “stumbled” on gold we did not work for. God has surrounded man with favor because of the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield. (Ps. 5:12)
It is best explained by the words of the angel to Mary:
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” (Lk. 1:30)
There is nothing to fear—you have found favor with God! He has chosen, after the counsel of His own will, to overwhelm you with favor you do not deserve.
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? (Rom. 9:23-24 KJV)
Praise the Lord! You are a vessel of mercy. A vessel of love and of grace. You have been taken “captive” by favor. It is God’s choice, not yours. He has chosen by Himself to favor us!
Definition of Grace – In Christ
These are the two most important words for unraveling the mysteries of God’s grace. The grace that is described as that which “bringeth salvation to all men” is non-existent outside of Christ Jesus. Why is it that almost suddenly man became surrounded with God’s favor after Jesus came? God did not become gracious when Jesus was born. Neither did He acquire favor. He has always been gracious and a God of favor. What happened then? The answer—Jesus came! Grace showed up on the scene when Christ showed up. He is the grace of God revealed.
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (Jn. 1:17 KJV)
The Gift of the Son
Jesus has brought man into the favor of God. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the love and the delight of the Father.
And behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)
When the Word became flesh, God saw His “begotten Son” as a man with all the love and favor as well as the pleasure a father takes in the son he delights in. Through His sacrificial work on the cross, the most inconceivable, unimaginable, and unthinkable happened—Jesus brought man into His place as the “Beloved of the Father.” He took our place of sin and brought us into His place—of the Son, highly favored, well-beloved, and pleasant to God. When God sees you, He sees His Son. You have been brought into Christ.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Gal. 3:27)
The gift of grace is not all the “nice things in heaven.” It is His Son! And as His son, all things are yours!
And if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. (Rom. 8:17)
Man suddenly found himself in a place called “Christ,” a place of favor without limits. Grace is the status of the Son with God. Jesus has brought many sons to the Father!
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. (Heb. 2:10)
The Cost of Grace
Grace is free to us but cost God everything. Grace is not free for Him. It required the most painful execution of the Son of God Himself on a cross by the humans He made. This is what was required for you to be accepted, delivered, and brought to glory. That is why we are always overwhelmed with thanksgiving, praise, and worship to God for His grace in Christ.
Grace is God’s doing. It is God’s choice. It is what He has purposed to do. We have been “caught” in the purpose of the Father to show unmerited favor and bring many sons to glory.
…according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight
He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention, which He purposed in Him. (Eph. 1:7-9 )
As grace is revealed to you, you will fall in love with Jesus all over again. The power of His cross and the empty tomb will be all you truly care about. Everything else is secondary. In fact, one of the proofs of the revelation of grace in our lives is a renewed passion and love for our Lord Jesus Christ. You know grace by knowing Him.
The Definition of Grace – Anatomy
The word “grace” is used in different ways in the Scriptures depending on the context. However, the specific usage of grace that concerns us here is the grace described as “that is in Christ” or that “bringeth salvation to all men.” This grace shows itself in at least four different ways, which I call “the anatomy of grace.” See the diagram below for a quick overview.
Practically speaking, what we call “grace” in the context of this article will fall into one of the four categories listed in the diagram above. Your understanding of grace will be truncated if you do not see grace in all its facets of manifestations in our lives.
- Divine response: The unmerited favor of God
- Grace revealed: The Person and work of Jesus—the cross was grace at work!
- Grace executed: The empowerment of the believer to live and serve God is grace. It is so important to catch this also. Grace is not just a teaching; it the power of God at work in you.
- Our response: When we are touched by grace, something happens to us. The tangible results of the work of grace in our lives is called grace. A spiritual gift is grace because God’s power, which we do not merit, is operating in us in a way we will never be able to do so by ourselves. Grace produces beauty in our lives and leads to joy and thanksgiving.
Definition of Grace – The Signature
When grace comes in, it leaves its signature in its territory. Isaiah 61:3 gives us a remarkable description of what happens to a life that has been touched by God’s grace.
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. (Isa. 61:3 KJV)
Grace never leaves anyone the same. Three key things noted in the verse above are:
- Beauty for ashes. It removes our shame, hurt, bondage, and fears and replaces them with the beauties and excellencies of God. Holiness and righteousness instead of sin. Health instead of disease. Strength instead of weakness. You become compassionate, kind, and loving toward others rather than harsh, unforgiving, and unkind. Grace beautifies us with the excellencies of God. It cannot be hidden, because it leaves its signature on our lives. As a believer, you should go for the revelation of grace until you see its signature in your outward life.
- The oil of joy for mourning. Man has been mourning since sin and Satan entered into the world. Joy is a signature of a life that has received grace. The absence of joy in your life might be a proof to you that you have not yet taken ahold of what grace is. You see, it has nothing to do with what you are going through, because once you catch the revelation that grace came to turn those ashes you are in now into beauty, you will start shouting!
- The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. You cannot receive grace and be depressed, irrespective of the circumstance. Grace is a reason for celebration for humanity. Watch those who have known and believed the grace of God and you will notice that their lives are full of praise, thanksgiving, and worship. Grace can be seen.
Evidence of Its Absence
There is a rumor in the Church that this grace teaching will cause believers to be sinful and lazy. What a disaster! I remember telling a minister friend that I would be writing a book on grace, and she immediately exclaimed, “I hope it is not that kind of grace that is out there!” This is an extremely pathetic situation most of the Church has been caught up in.
If Satan has succeeded to make us shy away from understanding and receiving grace because of what some individuals are doing, then we are done. He will succeed in keeping us in bondage and servitude until we recover ourselves.
It is the same thing he has done with the Holy Spirit by making the Church shy away from His manifestations in our lives. The very thing (or rather Person) that is the life of the Church remains a major source of controversy, division, and even fighting with each other. What a mess! An enemy has done this (Matt. 13:28).
Grace and Sin
It is IMPOSSIBLE to know grace and live a life of sin. Firstly, grace is not a doctrine but the very power of God to deliver from sin. Secondly, the knowledge of God is not intellectual or mental but instead experiential and intimate. You do not know grace until it has changed you inside out and you have become one with what you know. You cannot say you KNOW GRACE and live a life of sin. It is IMPOSSIBLE.
There is no greater evidence of the absence of grace than the presence of a perpetual lifestyle of sin. The very fact that someone willfully lives in sin and even attempts to defend it is the greatest proof you can have that he does not know grace. No explanations are needed.
The Abuse of Grace
People will abuse God’s Word. It did not start today and neither is it ending anytime soon. If someone wants to do what they want, even God’s grace cannot save them. If the message of grace does not change a person because they have hardened their heart, most certainly rules and regulations or the law will not even attempt to do so. Grace requires that we are humble enough to accept God’s control of our lives.
This abuse of grace should in no way make us shy away from the very message of God to the world—the message of His Grace in Christ Jesus. Do not stop eating chicken because some individuals use it in shrines for sacrifices to demons!
This is a condensation of some of the key aspects of grace. Make these truths yours by reading it again and again if needed and searching the Scriptures for yourself with the inspiration of the Spirit. Remember that grace has a signature in our lives whenever we find it in the Word.
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