From Pastor Paul Ellis:
As C.S. Lewis famously observed, grace is the one thing that makes Christianity unique. Grace is what makes the new covenant new and the good news good news. But what is grace?
Do you know what it means?
I read a lot of grace books and I have found that very few define grace. They tell you what grace isn’t. Grace isn’t works. Grace isn’t law. Grace isn’t religion. But they don’t tell you what grace is.
Don’t you find it strange that we who have been apprehended by the grace of God don’t have good definitions of grace? It’s like being French and not being able to explain what it means to be French.
What is grace? What does grace mean to me?
What is the grace of God?
It is common to hear grace defined as the kindness of God, or his undeserved mercy or unmerited favor. These are fine definitions, but brief. Max Lucado said “Grace is God’s best idea.” Of all his works, it is his magnum opus. And a magnum opus deserves a magnum definition.
Since I have been writing about grace for some time, I thought it might be fun to put all my grace definitions in one place.
I am not claiming to have a handle on God’s amazing grace. Far from it. All I want to do is start a conversation. I hope you will weigh in with your own thoughts about God’s grace.
A biblical definition of grace
What is grace? Grace captures the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. Grace is God’s divine aid that supernaturally empowers you to be who he made you to be.
The Biblical noun for grace (charis) means favor or kindness, and is related to a word (chairo) which means to rejoice, be cheerful and well off. The grace of God leaves us cheerful and rejoicing. It leaves us better than it found us.
Grace is what the unconditional love of God looks like from our side. God is love and love that stoops is called grace. Grace is the love of God reaching down and gathering you in his arms.
Grace is God’s loving-kindness towards you. Grace is God blessing you with himself for no other reason than it pleases Him to do so.
Grace is the confident assurance that with God on your side, you can’t lose. Grace is his strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
Grace is freedom from sin, guilt, and condemnation. Grace is freedom from the need to prove yourself. Grace is divine permission to be who God made you to be.
Grace is heaven’s cure for the world’s woes. Grace is the power of God that turns sinners into saints, haters into lovers, and orphans into sons.
Grace is being adopted into the family of God. Grace is realizing you are a dearly-loved child, the apple of your Father’s eye, and a co-heir with Christ.
Grace is God honoring us with his presence. Grace is God with us. Grace is the adventure of life shared with Christ.
Flavors of grace
Grace is favor, freedom, forgiveness and a million other blessings besides. Grace is God’s divine acceptance, his salvation and sanctification.
Grace is power, healing and prosperity. (What do you think the word blessing means?)
Grace is God blessing you for no other reason than he loves you. Grace is divine power to live abundantly in union with the One who loves you and calls you by name.
What does God's grace really mean?
Grace isn’t a doctrine, or bunch of rules for you to keep, and grace is not God’s lubricant for greasing the cogs of self-effort. Grace is a Person living his life through you. Living under grace is like being married, only more so.
In a word, grace is Jesus. Grace is not one of God’s blessings but all of them wrapped up together in the One who is full of grace. Grace is the Gift of all gifts from the Giver of all givers.
Those are some of my thoughts. I would love to hear yours. What does the grace of God mean to you? In the comments below, complete this statement: “Grace is…”
I have given you my definitions of grace. In the Bonus Content that accompanies this article, I look at some outstanding definitions of grace provided by notable authors past and present.