Because grace is the heart and soul of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, a thorough understanding of grace is a must for every believer in Christ. An attempt to answer the question “What is grace?” is truly an attempt to explain the entire Bible and the person and work of Jesus Christ. We will therefore be very specific in this article and deal with one question: “Just what is grace?”
Grace has been simply defined as “unmerited favor.” This is a time-tested treasure and has blessed millions of believers. However, this definition is inadequate. It actually leaves out the most important words that really capture what grace is all about, and it is grossly insufficient to define grace as unmerited favor without knowing what that favor really is. Sadly, to many believers, this favor is chiefly that God will not punish them for their sins or that He will freely grant them one spiritual blessing upon another.
The most important words that tell us what grace is all about are given to us in Ephesians 1:6 (NKJV): To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
The words “in the Beloved” and “in Christ” are the most important words when it comes to understanding what grace is. These are the words that describe to us what exactly is in the favor that is unmerited. A better definition therefore of grace should be “unmerited favor in Christ.” Grace will only be meaningful to you if you have a revelation of the two words “in Christ.”
What is grace?
The wonders of the high favor of God lavished on mankind are hidden in what God has done by bringing us into the place called “in the Beloved” or “in Christ.” Imagine you are a wealthy dad with a son that you so cherish and love. That son is your delight and pleasure, and all that you have belongs to him. Then think of a day when you are walking on the streets one evening and meet a street kid—homeless, hungry, and looking really filthy. You feel sympathy for the child and bring him to your home. You can bless this street kid in at least two ways. The first is giving the child a well-furnished room in your million-dollar home and lavishing him with some good gifts, including clothing, a car, etc. This will be favor you have shown to this street kid—and it is unmerited. This first scenario describes what most of us will typically do for someone we want to help. Sadly, this is the sort of scenario that comes to our minds, probably unconsciously, when we think of grace. We think God has saved us and brought us to heaven to lavish on us the best gifts of heaven. No! So what does God do?
When God brings the street kid above into His home by grace, He does something completely foreign to us humans. He does not just lavish the street kid with good gifts, which in itself is favor beyond measure. He does just ONE thing. Only one thing. He gives the street kid the status of His own Son in the house. All that is in His own Son that makes Him a Son God imparts into the street kid, and then suddenly He sees His Son in this street kid. God the Father does not divide what He has in two to give half to His Son and the other half to the kid. Since the street kid is given the status of the Son in the house, all that is the Son’s belongs to the street kid. The street kid has been brought INTO the Son, into His shoes, into His place, and into His joys and happiness. The street kid is now in the Son, in the place called “in Christ,” where he shares the very nature of the Son and all that belongs to Him—unmerited, mind-blowing favor in Christ. You are that street kid that has been brought home to be “in the Son,” or “in Christ.”
What is grace? Partakers of the divine nature
The Apostle Peter made one of the most unexpected and mind-boggling statements in scripture when he said, “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4 NKJV).
God has made us partakers of the divine nature in Christ. First, it is important to make a statement about who or what Christ really is. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). Jesus is God Himself, in the flesh, as a man. The Word became flesh and the walking Jesus was a God-Man. The day Jesus was born, divine nature took up flesh and blood. Whenever a man comes to Christ, he is immersed in this Christ nature so that the same divine nature or order of existence that was operating in Christ is imparted on that man. He becomes a partaker of the heavenly order and all the benefits and privileges thereof! Grace is way bigger than sin. The favor God has shown humanity is unconceivable.
The word “partakers” in 2 Peter 1:4 above is from the Greek koinonos, meaning partners. It has a similar root derivative to the word koinonia, which you are probably familiar with, describing a kind of relationship in this context. In koinonia, the two parties in the relationship share the same thing—they feel the same feelings, think the same thoughts, enjoy the same delights, etc. They share by experiencing the same thing at the same time. It is not divided, like the street kid above sharing in the son of the house. They do not divide into two. They share the whole. The one thing belongs to one party completely but also fully belongs to the other party. This is koinonia. Jesus continues to be Jesus, and you continue to be you while yet sharing in all of what He is! God has brought us into koinonia with the Son of God. You have not become Jesus or God. However, the nature He carried while He walked on the earth is the same we carry. All of heaven and earth belong to Him, and all of heaven and earth therefore belong to you because you are in the Son, sharing His nature and experience of life!
Looking at Jesus
If you are asking yourself what this has to with you here and now, look at Jesus for a second. Before He brought us to be partakers of the divine nature, He had to partake of the human nature Himself. We are told:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (Heb. 2:14 NKJV).
The Word became a Man, and God called this Man’s name Jesus. He was not taught human nature. God did not give Him a lecture on humanity just before He came. Instead, He was made to partake of the human nature. He became a man to feel what you feel, face what you face, and live in this side of eternity like you do. He did not know humanity by head knowledge but by intimate knowledge through koinonia. He knows what it means to suffer pain in the body and also to suffer hunger. That is human nature. He was made a partaker of this nature so that He can bring you to become a partaker of the divine nature that was in Him, and this happened the day you accepted Christ by faith into your heart.
Divine nature in man destroys disease, fear, depression, Satan, sin, etc. God will never sit there in heaven confused and wondering what to do! Fear, anxiety, and confusion do not exist in His order of existence, and that same life and nature is operating in you here and now. You have been brought into a place where you can share His very life and nature. His fullness dwell inside of you so that you can experience all of it and express all of it. It is only our mortal bodies that are blurring the fullness of the glory of the believer in Christ.
Can this really be true? Why are we therefore still struggling as most of the Church is today? You see, the Church was born as a baby just over 2,000 years ago, and she has been growing to full maturity since then—to the fullness of our Sonship. Babies are fully human, having all the organs that adults have, yet they live completely dependent and helpless because these organs and body parts need to mature. Without maturity, they are miserably helpless though fully human like any adult. This is a picture of your life as a believer. The believer needs to grow from a babe to a mature son to fully enjoy all that belongs to him or her. Revelation and faith are required to derive any practical benefit from grace.
There is a great responsibility in grace for us to bear. We cannot enjoy what is bigger than the revelation of Jesus we know. Neither do we receive from grace what our faith cannot handle. Grace requires faith, and an absolute surrender to the Word of God is the cornerstone of the life of faith. Many of God’s precious children are still struggling to surrender to the control of the Word and the Spirit, and we are paying a big price for that without realizing it. They are saved, but they live as their lords on a daily basis, doing what they feel, want, or think is right. Grace is God living in you, and if that is to happen, you must give way. Let nothing or no man deceive you; we, as believers, will suffer miserably under the hands of the affairs of life, even though we are saved, if we do not learn to surrender the control of our lives to God by His Word and Spirit.
What is grace? Call to Sonship
Grace is a heavenly call to humanity to come into fellowship (koinonia) with the Son of God—sharing fully in who He is. Your life on earth here and now should be at least what you read of Jesus in the gospels. It might not appear to be true for you today, but do not get discouraged—just keep growing in the revelation of the Son of God and faith by feeding voraciously on the Word. Again, many believers still do not fully understand what the words “Son of God” really mean and the huge implications for us. Writing space will not allow us to dig into the full riches of these words. However, there is no understanding of grace until you have known what God means when He calls Jesus the Son of God and calls you a son of God.
John 1:14 gives us the usage of the term “Son” that is of significance to us here.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… (Jn. 1:14 NKJV)
In brief, the Son of God is a man who carries the divine nature. Jesus, the Word, which is God Himself, became flesh and blood. As a man, He carried the nature of God in Him—Son of God. When we become born again, we are recreated not with a human nature but with the divine nature within us. There is no gender, because son is not a biological but a spiritual term signifying the nature we share. Because of the nature we carry, we are called sons of God, whether male or female. Jesus is the only begotten Son, meaning His conception was unique in that He was not just born by the Word but He was the Word Himself that became flesh. We are sons in that we are born of the Word and imparted the nature of Christ.
Grace is a call to Sonship. Notice I did not write sonship but Sonship with a capital “S” because it is not just a call to become children of God but a call to become partakers of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. God has adopted us. Again, divine adoption is so foreign to us humans. A human being adopts a child by signing legal papers and taking up the role of a parent. The child, however, remains the biological child of another parent. God does not adopt this way. When God adopts, He actually imparts the nature of His Son and really MAKES US His sons! He is not assuming that you are His son because He has taken up the fatherly role as an adoptive Father. You are actually His son! That is why the Spirit of God looks at you and says, “Wow, you really look like your Father!” (Rom. 8:16). What does the Spirit see in you? The nature of the Son of God! This is grace!
What is grace? Bigger than sin
If you think grace is about God not punishing men for their sins and that is it, then you still need to come into the knowledge of what grace is. Grace far exceeds the sin issue. Grace steps into the eternal purpose of God Almighty to dwell on the earth in men as His temple. Sin was only an obstacle that of necessity had to be dealt with. Sin magnifies God’s grace and shows us the depth of His kindness to lavish such unimaginable favor on the rebels that we were. He has given the best gift to the most unworthy. This is not the way things are done here on earth!
The purpose of grace is to bring man into the glory of God. God has imparted in you His very life and has become united as one you to live in and through you. You can now experience what God experiences because He is inside of you. You can now fully express God because He lives inside of you. Your life in Christ is a life of glory—visible expressions of the invisible God in Christ. By grace, God has immersed you in Christ and made you a living manifestation of the Son of God. If you spend all of the years of your Christian life on earth fighting with some sin, Satanic oppression, fear, addiction, etc., it means you have not yet started living the life of grace in its fullness. We all start somewhere but need to grow up with time. God wants you to come into the place where when you talk, the wisdom of the Son of God and His power and authority are seen and heard in your words. When you speak to demons, they tremble because your voice is the voice of the Son of God living in you. This is the ultimate purpose of grace—to bring you into the life of glory. Babes in Christ spend their lives struggling to come out of sin or overcome some Satanic oppression. They needed deliverance when they got saved, and 5 to 10 years later, as a Christian, they still need deliverance. God has a better life prepared for you. Mature believers have learned to surrender their lives completely to the Spirit to lead a life of glory. It is impossible to know grace and live in sin. The greatest evidence of the absence of the knowledge of grace is the continual presence of sin and Satanic oppression.
What is grace? Unmerited favor in Christ. The splendor of the favor is packaged in the words “in Christ.” This article has merely focused on a core concept of grace. There is more. I encourage you to crave the knowledge of the Son of God to know what grace really is. Remember that grace only profits you to the extent of your revelation and faith. Creation is waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God. This is the season. This is the time. And you were born for this season!
Please share this article with another believer to provoke them to a life of glory.
You may want to read this article also that deals with 6 key concepts of grace.