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